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  • Writer's picturecarolineswiftholden

When You Can't Fit Into a Box Because You're a Star

I’ve been applying for jobs lately and I keep getting the same feedback over and over again:

“We thought you were a perfect fit for our team culture wise but unfortunately we need someone with more….”
“We really enjoyed meeting you, learning about your skills and experiences and having a really interesting conversation. Your enthusiasm, skill set, and humor will take you on many successful ventures I am sure! Unfortunately, at this time... ”
"She has infectious positivity and a ton of energy that she has put toward just making things, so many things. Very driven. I really am intrigued by those that choose to or are forced to learn all about production by wearing many hats. She is definitely one of those people and I liked how she spoke about those hats giving her a ton of experience in producing, writing, social strategy, shooting and post. Unfortunately..."
“Everyone on the team absolutely loved you, and thought that you were smart, talented, and have such a good story, but unfortunately we need someone who…”

As of yesterday, I’ve now had four different HR departments call me to apologize for not being able to hire me.

My background is a little untraditional. I started in advertising as a junior producer, I worked as a freelance comedy writer/performer for four years while working day jobs in retail, as a script doctor, and finally in admin/operations/events at a Venture Capital firm.

I’m an excellent writer, communicator, event planner, filmmaker, editor, tech enthusiast, social media marketer, cheese platter specialist, saleswoman, company culture expert, travel planner, artist, scheduling master, etc, etc.

I basically could thrive in a whole variety of jobs and am incredibly passionate and interested in a whole bunch of different areas. But, because I don’t have a linear career path, most employers and recruiters either don’t know how to help me or find me a challenge to employ, even if I’m an absolutely delight and perfect culture fit.

Now to be clear, I’m not bitter or angry!

ALL of these jobs were places where I may have been unqualified or didn’t have a skill that they were looking for, or didn’t have a way for me to grow as an applicant. Their reasons make a lot of sense and in the end, their decisions may have been right.

I too want to find a job that I’m going to LOVE and want to stay in for the next several years, so I’ve been a wee bit picky during my current job hunt because I want to thrive in my next job.

But, it also has become increasingly clear to me that most employers (and recruiters) are interested in making the safest possible hires and aren’t very willing to take on someone even if they have a lot of potential. They would rather hire someone who has done the job a million times before than take a risk on someone who may do the job differently because they know exactly what they're getting.

My skills don’t fit neatly in a box.

Or as my mom says, I’m a “Generalist in a world filled with jobs for Specialists.”

I believe we need a revolution when it comes to applying for jobs and how job roles function in organizations altogether.

Because although I’m extremely flexible and can easily find ways to fit into boxes of what people want me to be. I have eight different resume templates for a variety of different careers in an attempt to make my career path look as "catered" as possible which certainly helps me get an interview, but once they find out that I've done so many other things, employers start to get more nervous than enthusiastic.

I shouldn’t have to hide my star power in order to prove to people that I’m exactly what they are looking for when I, and so many others are much more than that.

I believe when it comes to building the best team and culture, skills matter, but the right people and culture matter more.

Catch the stars while you can.

You never know: they may just transform your organization in ways than you can imagine.

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