Job hunters trying to decipher the intentions of employers are often left feeling frustrated and discouraged. What employers are looking for can differ and will depend on subjective factors including how well they think you’d fit in with the company’s culture. Whether you’re a good fit or not could also depend on the date you apply; they may not be looking for someone like you right now, but maybe several months or a couple of years down the road, they will.
Still, when you’re applying for jobs, it’s important to consider the qualities that could set you apart in a positive way from other candidates and continue to develop them; there are traits that a number of different companies will find attractive. A recent article on the design team at Google X provides a good example of the qualities sought out by companies hiring people for creative technology jobs. Here are three of them:
Especially in jobs where you’re given a lot of room to play and innovate, it’s important to show employers that you’ll still get tangible results.
One way to do this is to demonstrate through your resume and in the interview that you’re self-motivated and understand how to plan a project. Show them concrete goals you’ve attained in previous jobs (e.g. specific things you designed or invented, specific projects you completed) and the steps you took towards achieving them.
If they see idea that you can outline a project, figuring out the steps to take and the time frame necessary to complete it, your chances of getting hired will likely increase. Be prepared for interview questions that may ask you to come up with a plan for a project or outline specific goals for your work in detail.
Feeling comfortable with uncertainty:
In such work environments, you have to show that while you have concrete goals and a general idea of how long a given project should take, you also need to be flexible. You need to be able to handle unexpected results and try new things. Maybe the project you’re working on will suddenly get canned or the deadlines will shift. You have to be able to anticipate these kinds of abrupt changes.
It’s all about striking a balance between the practicalities of working in a business that wants to see results and working in an environment that encourages the messiness of innovation. In fact, in planning a project, you need to anticipate the possibility of mistakes or problems coming up and build those into your project plan.
Enthusiasm and open-mindedness:
In the article, the Google X design team says they tend to shy away from people who show extremes of behavior: they’re either too fearful to try something new or will try anything without the proper consideration. They look for people who are generally optimistic. They want people who are willing to consider different points of view while also bringing to bear their judgment on how practical it would be to pursue a given idea.
In general, showing joy in creativity and a sincere willingness to explore will serve you well. Maybe part of your interview process will involve a brainstorming or problem-solving session with your interviewer or fellow interviewees, to evaluate your eagerness to participate, the meaningfulness of your contributions, and your ability to analyze new ideas.
Although these qualities may seem intangible, you can demonstrate them even in your resume (as with the example given above, of showing concrete examples of projects and goals). Even before the interview, you can use your resume to highlight your creativity, and ability to work well in fluid, fast-paced, and innovative environments.
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