What is the best way to get a job easily?

This is a story about Jack.

Jack wants a job. Any job. He needs money because allowance from his parents isn’t paying the bills anymore.

But Jack has never had to apply for a job before. So he did what most people do. Jack Googled “How do I get a job?”

After getting lost reading several dozen how-tos and subreddits Jack got worried. None of the advice told him what he could do today.

Jack was sad, confused, and still broke.

Jack doesn’t have any experience. He doesn’t have a resume – let alone a “good” resume. He still needs a job and his online reading made him feel like an unqualified loser.

But Jack wasn’t going to give up that easy. He decided he’d go visit some local businesses in-person to see what he could do.

The first place he visits is the grocery store, where he’s greeted by a manager. Jack asks him about the now hiring sign he saw outside – “How could I work for you?”

The manager tells him that he’s looking for people who will work hard and show up on time. He asks Jack if he can do that.

Jack tells him he’s never had a job before. “I’m willing to give it my best try.”

The manager tells him he’s leery of anyone who has never worked before. “I’ve had a lot of people applying for this job, son,” he tells Jack, “Why should I hire you?”

Jack doesn’t know, so he tells the manager the only answer he can think of – the truth.

“Honestly, sir, I don’t know why you should pick me over anyone else, but I’m willing to do whatever it takes to learn.”

The manager tells Jack to come back Saturday for a test run. “You get one shot to prove yourself, don’t be late.”

On Saturday, Jack showed up early.

He got a new haircut the night before, and picked out clean clothes. His shirt is tucked in and he’s wearing a belt.

The manager greets him again. He tells him he’d like Jack to sweep the floor to start and points him to the back room where the brooms are kept.

Jack doesn’t wait for instructions. Jack races to the back room. He grabs the dust mop and he sets off around the store.

When he encounters guests, Jack politely waits for them to move.

One guest stopped Jack. “Sir, do you know which aisle I can find the grape jelly?”

Jack doesn’t know, so he tells her the only answer he can think of – the truth. “No, ma’am, I do not. But give me one second to find out and I’ll be right back.”

Jack races to the front of the store, reading the signs as he moves. There, on aisle two, he spots it: “Condiments.” And he tears down the aisle, grabs a jar of Smucker’s Grape, and hurries back to the customer.

“Ma’am, I went ahead and grabbed you a jar, but the grape jelly is on aisle two, so you know next time.”

The customer smiles and accepts the jelly. She tells Jack how nice it is to meet such a polite young lad, and that she’d have to put in a nice word with his boss.

When the manager heard the customer’s story, he found Jack and told him he’d like to give him a shot.

Jack’s heart did cartwheels. He found a job! But he wanted to be sure why. So he asked.

“Sir, if you don’t mind me asking, what made you decide to take a chance on me? After all, I don’t have any skills.”

The manager told Jack he passed the test with flying colors.

“You told me the truth. You showed up on time. You jumped to get to work when you first got here. You wore a smile. You put the customer’s needs over your task at hand. You’re just the kind of person we want to teach.”

Jack beamed all the way home that day. He knew he had learned a valuable lesson.

Getting a job wasn’t as difficult as he first feared.

It was okay he didn’t know how to get a job – because he was willing to ask what it took, and go out of his way to prove he could do it.

It was okay that he didn’t have skills – because he was honest about it.

It was okay that he didn’t have experience – because he was willing to prove he’d work hard to learn.

Jack’s story can teach us all a lot. Regardless of what job we’re trying to land.

Jack’s whatever-it-takes attitude, paired with his commitment to proving it paid off for him.

And next time you’re looking for a job, it could pay off for you, too.

*I originally published this post on Quora in response to the question What is the best way to get a job easily?

From What I Need to What I Can Do For You.

The job market is not as scary as it seems if you’re willing to change your approach.

The easy approach is scouring job boards with a mindset that “I need an job” and blasting out resumes with generic cover letters. The mindset behind this usually overemphasizes the need.

But – this enhances the difficulty level of finding a job. Businesses don’t give two shits about your needs as an applicant. That’s harsh. But it’s true. They can’t afford to hire, let alone pay people on the basis of needs.

Instead of focusing on your needs – when applying, you should focus on how you can help a business meet its needs. How you can bring value to the enterprise.

Behind every business is a person or group of people. They all have needs, too. They all have families. They all have bills to pay. But if the business doesn’t make money, none of that matters.

So businesses look for ways to maximize the value of their time and dollars. This is especially true when it comes to hiring. Evaluating a candidate is often an evaluation of opportunity costs. In other words, everything a business says yes to means several things it says no to.

Consider a simple scenario:

A business needs help with bookkeeping, office management, and marketing. It has a $50k annual budget for these.

Sally has a family and a high rent. She needs to make at least $50k per year, but she has 10 years experience in a narrow range of skills. She also isn’t interested in learning new things. If the business hires Sally for $50k and she can only do bookkeeping and manage the office, it still needs someone to assist with marketing.

April is fresh out of college. Somehow she managed to walk out without debt. She doesn’t need a lot to live on and at this phase in her career she values experience more than money. She’s got some basic skills and an eagerness to learn. If the business hires April for $35k and she can take on some of the marketing and is willing to manage the office, then it still has $15k in the budget to go out and find bookkeeping help.

This isn’t meant to be a perfect thought experiment. It’s intended to paint a picture of the choices business face when they hire – and contrast the difference between an applicant’s needs and an applicant’s ability and willingness to create value.

It should be obvious that hiring the younger, eager, less expensive candidate and finding a creative solution for the other tasks is a better decision for the business.

It’s often easy on the job market to overlook that businesses are made up of people. It’s also easy to put too much emphasis on your immediate circumstances.

Fight the impulse. Instead, find a way to focus on the needs of the business.