Have you ever gotten stuck in a routine and wished you could change and do something out of the ordinary, even though it could be risky? Innovation is about stepping outside of your comfort zone and trying something different. More importantly, it’s about change, and the ability to confidently fail, pick up and move forward. In today’s job market, this is the kind of thinking that will set you apart from your competition.
Here are some lessons I have learned on my journey to becoming innovative:
#1: Be an Innovator
Know your roadblocks: All too often, we get comfortable in where we are or what we have in life. The reality is we are not always open to trying something new unless it involves pleasure or it remedies one of our pains.
Take an Innovative Approach: Innovative people recognize others’ pain points and provide them a solution. Think about it like watching an infomercial. Infomercials market products around solving the annoyances we face daily. They don’t just focus on creating new products. Start with something small by asking yourself what you can improve in your environment.
How to use this thinking in your job search: Take a company approach – Start by determining what interests you most about your “dream company.” You should think about a few essential things: company size, location, benefits, values, reputation, culture, and stability. Research a problem that individuals in your desired industry have identified and then build a portfolio with content centered around specific solutions to their challenge. Companies want to know that you are an innovator- that you can bring them solutions instead of problems by being creative. Your portfolio might include blog posts you’ve written, infographics, social media activity, statistics, or quotes, to name a few. The key is to position yourself as a thought leader. Make a real effort to learn about their challenges, prove how far you’re willing to go to learn about what they do, and, more importantly, what they could be doing better. You can then add this information to your job application or bring it along with you during a job interview.
#2: Don't keep doing the same thing
Know your roadblocks: Let go of the “I know best” or “I have solved this problem a million times before” attitude. I admit that once you find a solution to a problem, looking for other solutions can seem silly. However, what happens when your solution doesn’t work? Doing the same things and expecting a different result is even worse.
Take an Innovative Approach: Persistence! Push yourself beyond obvious answers; continue to ask yourself questions until you’re all out of solutions. Then take one more step forward and find the answer to “who else has solved this problem?”
How to use this thinking in your job search: Bypass HR
Of course, you will have to deal with HR at some point during the hiring process, but you don’t always have to rely on HR to secure you an interview.
Try taking a personal, unique approach by seeking out, connecting, and sending a direct message to the hiring manager; at the very least, your resume will be reviewed instead of immediately thrown into a pile with 100 other applicants. In your message, ensure you explain what you believe their business is all about, the challenges they may be facing, and how you are the perfect person to solve those challenges. Yes, this may be time-consuming, but how many hours have you wasted doing the same thing and expecting a different result?
#3: Focus on the Problem
Know your roadblocks: We function on the common belief of “bringing solutions, not problems” to the table. When we are faced with a time-sensitive critical problem, we don’t want to waste time researching; immediate action is a must.
Take an Innovative Approach: Innovation is about focusing on the “problem” rather than the solution. The art of innovation is being to ask questions, have a sense of wonder, and uncover opportunities for learning. If you were given 5 minutes to solve a problem, you should be spending 4 minutes asking questions and 1 minute providing a solution.
How to use this thinking in your job search: Instead of asking yourself why you can’t get a job, first identify opportunities, market trends, industry challenges, undiscovered opportunities, and current roadblocks. Finding answers to these questions first will lead you on an innovative path to securing your dream job.
Some Extra Advice:
Naturally, people enjoy surrounding themselves in personal and work relationships with people who think in the same way. Unfortunately, this way of thinking can lead to an abrupt halt in innovation.
The Innovative Approach: Surround yourself with people who are opposite to you. Involve yourself in relationships with people with different mindsets, behaviours, personalities, backgrounds, ideas, interests, etc. Everyone was hired for a reason; seek to understand how your network, colleagues, friends can contribute to your success.
Example: If you struggle with interviews, you may want to reach out to your network or past colleagues who can advise how they approach interviews. Try to avoid getting attached to your ideas simply because they are your ideas or because someone else agrees with you.
The Innovative Approach: Seek rejection, tell your idea to a colleague, and ask them to challenge your theory. Repeat this step several times with all different types of people. Analyze their objections to get a broader perspective before proposing your solution.