Thursday, March 7, 2013

What businesses really want in an employee

There seems to be a lot of un and under-employed people while tons of companies are looking to add to their rosters.  But in 2013, having learned the hard lessons of 2008-09, companies no longer just want a warm body to fill the chair, they want a good fit.

Most job seekers and holders are worried about their credentials and experience.  It's natural given that these two metrics often determine the pecking order in a society.  The problem is, since the birth of the internet and the personal computer, your job title doesn't matter.  It is easier than ever to start a company and list yourself as the CXO.   The internet (and world) are changing so fast, extensive experience is more likely to hold you back than help you succeed.

How do you become a good fit?  Ironically, businesses don't care about your personality as much as they care about the results you can bring to the company.

The Director of the Business Institute at Albion College gave me some great advice during a recruitment visit I took there in high school.  He told me to double major in business (he was recruiting me for the business institute) and fine art.  I was big into art, but that isn't why he told me to do it.  His suggestion was based on what you learn in the two areas.

The business school teaches you about the numbers, things like economics and finance.  The art school teaches you critical thinking, how to build something from nothing, and how to justify it.  The combination of the two is extremely powerful.

I didn't end up going to Albion, but I did get a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.  To anybody looking to start their college carrier, I would give the same advice.  Get a degree in art and minor or double major in whatever discipline you want to pursue as a carrier.  Art starts with the tools and a blank slate.  What you do from there is up to you.  It is a very abstract place to begin.

Businesses today want to see that you can start from the abstract and create something useful.  If you can do that, hungry will beat experience every time.

My office is in Phoenix and I'm always looking.  If you know someone who is hungry and experienced with the abstract, send them my way.