From His Perspective: Breaking the Mold

I am on my way to Charleston, SC today so I thought it was the perfect day to post a new essay from my better half.  It’s been a tough month for us and I think Andrew sums up his view on such a challenge perfectly.  Anyone looking for a job will probably relate….

(a relevant book, and an Andrew favorite)

It has been a little bit since I had the inspiration to write a post. That has mostly to do with the fact that I have been hot on the trail of finding my next career opportunity. It appears (fingers crossed) that this dilemma is coming close to a close soon. It has been an interesting few months looking for a job/career/passion. I have learned a few things that I thought I would share with you all. This is not the typical “here’s what Erin and I are talking about” post. No relationship advice forthcoming. But I hope that the following you will still find interesting and helpful.

Early on in my career I had no idea what I wanted to do. I knew I liked talking to people, I had a variety of interests and an entrepreneurial streak. I didn’t have the feeling that I wanted to be in real estate, finance, hospitality, tech, web, etc. I liked all of those and a few others as well. I got excited by the opportunity. If I thought something was a good idea, then I could get passionate about it. So I tried a lot of different things.

I think this experience is invaluable. They say variety is the spice of life, but not everyone in corporate America agrees. Experience has its place to be sure, but do you really want a team of people all with the same backgrounds? Doesn’t that make new and innovative thinking harder? Sometimes a lack of experience in an industry allows for a much freer thought process. I can’t tell you how many times I have been told by an “experienced” business development person that a particular company would not be interested in our service…they had tried before and it didn’t work. Guess what. Things change. New people take over, strategic objectives change, and companies pivot. Not to mention that if you catch someone on an off day it might not be your product/service it might be the person you are talking to has his/her mind somewhere else. This is truly where ignorance can be bliss. I know. I have been told that so-and-so company would never be interested only to turn around and get an appointment the next day.

More and more companies are valuing diversity because getting different perspectives is actually beneficial, but for some reason most are limiting that to race, sex, religion, etc. My advice? Hire good people. They are much harder to find than experienced ones. You can teach the industry not integrity and talent. And with the pace of the world today is experience from 3 years ago really that relevant any more? Depending on your industry…probably not.

From all that I have read, people are starting to think this way. So my advice in this post is to keep your eyes open. A career should be not only about climbing up the corporate ladder, but about self-exploration. If you are debating two opportunities perhaps the one least familiar and less relevant will propel you further in the end. Allow yourself to learn from your experience, but don’t let it put borders on your thought process. Wherever I land I am going to be doing something a little different from what I have been doing. The companies I am talking to see that as an advantage for them. They encourage new thinking, mold breaking, and personal development. They will get more from me because of that and I will get more from them. Seems like a perfect scenario to me.

18 comments

  1. Perfect advice- I’ve seen this played out at the (many) jobs I’ve held.

    Smart, ethical, hardworking people can learn ANY job, but you can’t teach integrity or dedication no matter what the skill set.

    Best of luck to you- but with your attitude, you are making your own good luck.

  2. More and more companies truly are looking for diverse employees especially with their backgrounds. This has encouraged me to broaden my background with administrative, human resources and a variety of other skills that can help me become a more well-rounded candidiate. I wish you the best in your search and will definitely be adding that book to my list!

  3. Welcome to Charleston, I just hear it is supposed to be 88 degrees today! Hope you enjoy this city!! (And I have read outliers and REALLY enjoyed it!) My dad always said, even at 50, I still don’t “know what I want to be when I grow up”!

  4. I bought that book for my son when it fist came out. He’s 22 now. He went to the School of Visual Arts for 2 years but wasn’t crazy about it and is now managing a restaurant in Soho so you never know where that ladder will take you. He went from bar back to manager in six months so yes, experience should not always be a factor. They saw a smart dedicated young man. I believe in putting passion first, everything else comes after. If you don’t have passion about what you do you’ll never find success or happiness in my opinion.

    Good luck to you in your career opportunity and have a great trip Erin.

  5. As an HR professional in the Midwest – I completely agree with your post!! 80% of my interviews – I look for that culture or personality fit. Do they have the drive to learn and hit the ground running? Are they personable? Can they give me eye contact, wear a suit, not chew gum, and bring a nice copy of their resume? Can they give me a firm handshake with a smile? Can they ask well thought out questions to show me they researched the company?

    9 times out of 10 – I will hire the candidate that has a solid personality and drive than the candidate with no personality and experience.

    Best of luck to you!!!!

  6. I’m 57 years old and currently unemployed. I’ve been a technical writer for 30 years and a software tester for 12. I’ve also worked as a college instructor, business analyst and translator, and owned a flower shop for 10 years. Nobody wants to hire me, however, because I’m “too old” or have “too much experience” (translation: they want someone just starting out so they can pay them a lower wage).

    I wish the companies in my city encouraged new thinking, mold breaking and personal development.

  7. This perfect advice! The world is indeed moving at such a rapid space that how relevant is experience from 3,5 or 20 years ago. Jobs should be asking what can you show me now…not what can you show me from your past!

  8. Ofcourse I love Erin. It is the reason I keep coming back. But Andrew’s posts really hit a nerve and I have bookmarked every single one of them. @andrew: you should post more. Did you ever think about starting your own blog? I would certainly read it. Anyway, thanks for the insight.

  9. I agree with Hannah. I am amazed at the powerful things you are able to communicate in one short blog entry. Thanks & keep posting :)

  10. Great post, great advice! Good luck with your next position, keep us updated on how things work out!

  11. Squeak, you got it bang on. The reason corporations value experience over uniqueness and other things is because they base remuneration mostly on experience. I don’t see that changing anytime soon. I see lots of job postings for positions I would be interested in but key words in the postings discourage me from applying because I know they couldn’t afford me.

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