Handy, cheap and willing

The industrial age prized these three attributes. We’ve all been indoctrinated into adopting them through our time in organized schooling, and it’s easy to imagine that the world still wants this.

When work is geographically bounded and the assembly line is the dynamic of efficiency, this is precisely what’s sought. Your resume certifies that you have what it takes to check the boxes, and the hiring company adjusts its offered pay to get the folks it needs, when they need them.

But now the rules have changed, suddenly and perhaps for the long haul.

There are still companies, many of them, searching for HCW. But those aren’t jobs we actually want.

When your job is digital, when you can work from home, there is no such thing as “handy.” That means that the company is either going to hire the cheapest possible person out of perhaps a billion worldwide, or get a computer to do it, or…

Or they need to hire someone special.

Someone with significant skills.

They might be the traditional sort of skills. That you’re actually truly great at coding or design or engineering. You’ve done the reading, built a body of work and earned the respect of your peers. That you’re not saying, “you need anyone, and I’m anyone,” but instead, are demonstrably and substantially better at the craft.

Or they could be real skills, which some call soft skills. That you bring emotional labor, thoughtful analysis, care, humor, equanimity or other difficult human actions to the work. Significantly more than most people do. If you’re off the chart at this, it will be valued by the places you’d be happiest working.

The good news is that there’s a path. The hard part is digging in and becoming better than good.

Not better than good at everything, or even better than good for everyone. Simply better than good for someone.