The Try Before You Buy Job Economy

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In branching out to consult for founders and venture firms, I have found myself hearing from many folks similar to myself. These are people that have domain expertise within a certain area/category that are consulting – but many are also looking for what is next. I call this the try before you buy economy because people are literally trying each other out with engagements before signing up full time.

Folks include engineers, designers, marketers/growth, operations, founders – and more. Many of them stress the importance of a cultural and mission/vision fit before they go into a full-time role. I appreciate the fundamentals of this on both sides. Unlike participating in a spec., an RFP, or interviewing with a company – a growing number of people are getting paid for their time, spending time doing the job and seeing how it actually is to work at a company.

I have always recommended the strategy for certain new roles within high growth startups to be determined by a project assigned to interviewees which asks them to outline the first 90 days on the job. The final part of this allows both sides to see how the candidate grokked the information from the company, understood its mission and objectives, and coherently puts them all into a plan. The benefit for the company is that chances are they do not have a fully baked plan to have someone join, and the candidate with a solid plan can hit the ground running. In some cases I have hired a person and set them off on executing that plan. The reality is that things change but its a great place to start and have goal alignment.

This try before you buy is certainly not new for products, services, and the epic return policies of lots of companies. The difference here is that both sides do not have to go through the cultural and operational hurdles. The highly discussed Millennial Burn Out article that went around certainly underscores this point.

There is significant impact to teams, especially for senior roles, when people don’t workout. I continue to see some high level roles start out with consultants and advisors that matriculate to full time senior executive positions. This seems like a good bridge to what the world is heading towards. Given the inability to commit, people seeing “trials” everywhere they go, and distributed teams – I expect to see more of this in the workforce in the future.

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