As those of you who have read my previous posts may know, I'm an architect. Well, according to my degree I'm an architect... but if you ask my architect friends what I am, they have a hard time explaining what it is that I do. This might sound a bit odd, seeing that I've met many of them during my time at uni, but I do understand their trouble of defining what I do—I can hardly explain what I do, so how could they possibly do so?
Being an undefinable creative individual myself, I end up talking with a lot of kindred spirits, young and old, who are finding it hard to find/make a space for themselves in the field for which they have studied. Fashion designers exploring art, architects tackling social problems, graphic designers working in music, lawyers developing furniture, and the list goes on and on and on.
One of the things that defines us all is that we are creative, no matter what field we were or are in, our mind always find new ways of solving problems, develop new visions and handling tasks. Some of these talents are more tactile: a musician makes a new melody, an architect designs the scenography for a theatre piece, a fashion designer designs jewelry, and so on and so forth. Those are easy to understand, easy to write down and showcase in a portfolio.
Then we come to the tricky part, how do you showcase your creative side when it comes to problem-solving, people skills, your way of bringing positive energy to a business, your way of making teams work more fluidly, helping people find and nourish their passion in everything they do, how you make people feel comfortable when you are around, create an atmosphere that drives creativity to a higher level, how you make people trust you and truly talk to you, your burning curiosity that makes (almost) every subject interesting, or your way of twisting a situation into something positive or at least into something you can learn from?These are a few things that are really hard to write down on a CV or application when looking for a job. These are the things that you do not learn when studying at a design school. These are the things that every workplace needs, but hardly any workplace asks for when posting a job opening.
You can be the best young architect in the world, but if you are horrible at working with others, you can't communicate with you client or the engineers, you make people uncomfortable around you, and you make people feel like you are draining their energy rather then giving it to them, you will not last very long at any studio.
I've met many talented designers with various combinations of the soft skills mentioned above, who feel like they are falling in between the cracks since they don't know how to define the soft skills in a way that they connect with the person reading their resumé. Many people in creative vocations have studied and graduated from university, but feel like their true skillset is a mixture between the hard skills, their soft skills and their passion for something completely different.
I see so much passion fade away within this mish-mash field of talent that it scares me. All of this positive energy going to waste. They don't fit into a regular box of what they should do according to their degree; instead, they remain far outside of it. Sometimes they wish they fit the box, but they know that trying to fit into the box, to change themselves, to cut themselves into pieces would kill them.
So now my question to you is; How can we use this energy for good rather then to let it fade away? And do you have any suggestions on how these sort of people get these soft skills come across on their resumé/CV?
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I wish there was a simple answer to this, but I definitely feel the same and often feel like I'm the only one that thinks similarly to the article.
I think the issue is complex, but will provide my.02.
I've been searching for new work for a little bit and continually run into the "HR Issue". These are people that don't have the expertise, in my experience, to even sort through and identify unique candidates that have a variety of skills that could help the org. What they are good at is matching word-for-word or using automated systems that do this. As the article stated we could parse ourselves out to fill these other roles, but we/I refuse to be cut up. Our talents exist as the whole of our skills.
Some would argue that "why don't you just tailor your resume to fit that job req" and then get into the company first. Wouldn't that be the "smart" thing to do. I can only speak for myself, but that feels like selling a false bill of goods because then when you come into that new role and start to try and contribute in other ways our outside the job description it typically raises questions amongst the hiring manager. And it reduces us down to one or maybe two of our pieces, instead of valuing the "whole".
I've tried to combat this by asking the HR person, if I even get to talk to them, if I could have the opportunity to walk people through my story and show them specific examples of how I can solve problems. This rarely happens. The odd occasion that it does happen it's always well received, but I often get "you have a lot of great skills and experience, but we don't know where to put you in the org". I think this issue is a whole other problem. This seems to me, to be the lack of vision within an individual. The lack the skills to envision all of the ways a product designers skills and design thinking skills could apply to a variety of places across the org. I think this is a hard problem to solve. Most hiring managers that I've run into in Sr. roles seem to be MBA's or "product managers. I use those terms loosely. Meaning, that they lack the background around the creative space to figure out how to utilize this set of talents. So perhaps they just fall back on the boiler plate job requirements.
I think a video is and has been an option, but you still have to get the person to watch the video. Remember, these typically land in HR and most of the things I've read lately is that they have very little time to read cover letter, let alone watch videos.
In the end I believe the hiring of creatives can be improved by leaps and bounds because the new creatives/product designers/ etc (I still don't know how to classify myself) is going to be a tough battle.
I'm not talking about a person sitting on a stool in front of a camera. I'm talking about showing us the nitty gritty of why YOU are so special that you have to send in a video in addition to your paper resume. Get those creative juices flowing and make a vid the interview won't be able to ignore.