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Category: Innovation, Intrapreneurship

Why You Fail At Hiring Innovators

When you browse job postings that are looking for innovation managers, you’ll be surprised how companies are unprepared for them. It often starts with a confusing job description that uses innovation in an arbitrary way. The actual jobs are often nothing else than administrative or managerial jobs that look for keeping the status quo.

Once you find a posting that really searches for an intrapreneur or innovator in the classical meaning, the next obstacle come with the application form. Those form tailored towards traditional job roles often do not offer any options for alternative career paths. To give you an example, we can look at my career. While I spent 15 years at a big corporation, the roles I had there only at the beginning resembled a traditional pattern. Developer, manager but then it started to become more interesting. I created my own jobs that didn’t exist the years before. Community manager, innovation strategist, gamification designer or intrapreneur are just four of them that a normal application form would not list. Some of those roles I had in parallel.

It becomes fuzzier once I left big corporate and started my own company. I became a CEO of a startup, a startup founder, I am on the speaking circuit, I am a mentor and advisor to startups, I work as trainer, I organize my own events and meetups, I write books on new topics, I blog regularly. Those are jobs that clearly indicate self-drive, taking action, and passion.

But none of those job roles were available in the drop down list of what seems to be a standard job application technology providers’ software. I remember specifically consulting behemoth Deloitte that used such a form. I couldn’t even finish sending the form as I would have had to delete all entries to submit it. You could find three thousand job roles in their form, but none of them included CEO, or advisor. While this technology helps to fill traditional roles, it’s embarrassingly ill equipped to hire for the 21st century jobs that require new job skills and need to give more freedoms. Corporate Entrepreneurs that you want to have are often the ones that have non-traditional career paths and who take things in their own hands. Traditional management struggles with those people, as all the incentive and management models in place often hinder intrapreneurs to unleash their potential.

Hiring former startup founders is what can infuse entrepreneurial thinking into a company, but today they are not making it easy. HR today is not prepared for evaluating such professional, and thus missing out on staffing the company with the resources that they need in an ever faster changing environment.