Susan Hires a Boss

Final post: Lessons learned

Someone asked me to recap what I had learned in the hiring-a-boss process. Here's a recap post I wrote for The Art of NonConformity contest (didn't win) that covered a few of those lessons.


There many things in life we don’t like as they are.

And the normal reaction? Just to work within the constraints, accept the boundaries, play the game by the rules. But the very crux of the nonconformist life is not to do that.

Instead, change the game, change the rules, change the playing field. Make it a game you can win.

And nothing is more hide-bound by rules than the job search process. Include a cover letter, use the right keywords, have the exact required experience, provide a resume (but how many pages?), fill out the application form, we’ll call you, send a thank you note. Whew. How you’re supposed to get noticed and hired in all that is beyond me.

So how to change the game? How to take a non-conformist twist on finding a job?

Hire a boss instead.

That was my line of thinking as I wrapped up my six months studying with Seth Godin. The mere prospect of putting together a resume and having to send it out for boring job listings just set my teeth on edge. Yes, I’d have Seth’s name on there now and that should open a few doors. But there would still be the entire process where, no matter how proactive I got, I would still be waiting on others to make things happen.

I didn’t want to play that game and thus this site was born.

The process was simple – create a website complete with blog showing off my thinking and expertise. One post about me, one post explaining the job, one post explaining the process. Add a little promotion (including a mention on Seth’s blog, which is close to cheating) and viola! Less than two months later, I have an amazing job with some really cool people.


Understand the status quo, the assumptions, the norm. These are the fertile field you have to work with. Figure out which parts work against you, weigh what can and can’t be changed, come up with a new way to do it that works for you.

For me, this was my random work experience, more than 300 people applying for any position I applied for and a knowledge that the best jobs are never advertised. Doing it my way, I never even sent out a resume, there was only one applicant (me!) and I got one of those best jobs.

Not everyone will like what you’re doing. And that’s OK. If you don’t tick someone off, you’re probably not going far enough. Whether a job hunt or a new business venture, you aren’t trying to please everyone, so don’t try.

I got a lot of grief about one of the parameters I set for my new boss, as well as people thinking I must be out of my mind. Not to mention the ones who cautioned me about making so much of myself public and putting myself out there. Then there was the newspaper article about people taking bold measures on their job hunt. My efforts were apparently too extreme to fit with the rest of the article, so I got cut and only included in an online column.

There’s no such thing as a little non-conformist. If you’re going to adopt the posture, make sure you carry it out all the way through. No half measures, no retreating.

For me, this extended to actually sending a formal job offer to the company I’ll be working for and driving the process the entire time. It got hard to always be in charge and make all the decisions. (Seriously hard.) But that was the posture I chose and I forced myself to stick with it. Keep that in mind as you start out in a game-changing stance.

This entire process was one big learning experience with unexpected things coming at me from every corner. While I might do some of it differently now that I’ve done it once, there is no doubt it was worth every moment.


Again, it’s been a great ride and I appreciate you coming along with me. (You can continue to follow my non-work-life adventures at my regular blog.) Best of luck in your own job searches and changing the game you play!


posted on Sep 2, 2009 under