Everybody wants to work for Google, right? We have all seen the pictures of funky offices, people schlepping around in T-shirts and rumours of taking your dog to work with you. And Google itself promotes an employment model where staff work on core business 80% of the time and then that other day of the week is spent working on a company approved-project that the employee chooses. It sounds fun, innovative and challenging...basically, the best place on earth. Recently, I attended a conference in Sydney where I had the genuine pleasure of hearing Richard Suhr from Google talk a little about their employment strategies, and one thing he said really stuck in my head. Google is dedicated to employing people who can do more than the job for which they are being employed. Their employees need to be adaptable and multi-skilled. I am pretty sure that this doesn't mean that if you are an accountant working for Google you are also expected to be darned good at graphic design; it means that if you are employed as an accountant, you can think outside the square and offer solutions, ideas and be open to working on new projects. Fundamentally, Google is NOT interested in those people who say, "That’s not my job. I am not doing it." Here is the thing, Google is not the only employer looking for this when they go out to the market. Very few employers are going to come to us and say, "Look, I want to employ someone who only does what is in their job description. I don’t want them to put their hand up when they see a potential problem, I certainly don’t want them to think of solutions to the problem, and if I have changing business needs, I don’t want someone who can adapt with my business." When you are being interviewed by a potential employer I can guarantee you that interviewer is thinking this:
- Can this applicant do the tasks in the current job description?
- Will this applicant fit into the current team?
- Will this applicant add value now and in the future?
- Do I think that this person is adaptable?
- Do I think that this person will be able to take on more or different tasks if required?
The only way they are going to be able to measure this at an interview is either because you have a track record of doing this with your previous employers or you demonstrate a really positive, proactive attitude at the interview. Think of great examples of where you have taken on a project, been involved in a business change or championed a new process. If you can’t think of a time where you have done any of this, think harder. This might sound like employers are wanting their cake and eating it too – they want more bang for their buck. But think of it like this: do you want to work for a company where you can be involved in new initiatives? Where your ideas are welcomed and where opportunities for career development are the reward for initiative and hard work, not just because you have been there the longest? Well you can’t have all the benefits without doing the work and demonstrating your abilities. Sure, some things are skill based, and for some solutions you need to have specialist qualifications and experience, but for so many of the changes, initiatives and opportunities that help a business grow and prosper, the key to being at the forefront of this success is attitude. Be willing to change, be willing to adapt and be willing to think of yourself as a valuable contributor to the business. Australians work hard, they work long hours, and there are lots of times where it may feel like your employer is trying to get blood out of a stone, but this is the world we live in now. Our employers need to be competitive, they need to adapt to changing customer demands, and they need to be innovative to stay financially viable. Richard Suhr also said at the conference that businesses no longer have to worry about competitors who have been around longer or who are currently striding ahead in the market – business has to fear the company that hasn't even launched yet, the one who comes to market hard and fast with a new offering that completely changes the game. Your employer is trying to be successful in interesting times, and the only way for both you and them to succeed is to make sure that you can change when needed. So maybe it's time you stopped wishing you could work at Google and realise that maybe you already work for a company that can offer you an innovative and challenging environment.