Professional Perspective: Be the solution employers need

Welcome back to Professional Perspective where industry professionals share their insights regarding various employment related topics!

Wendy Ferris, Partner at inVision Edge, is answering today’Wendy Ferriss question. Wendy’s professional perspective comes from years of working in human resources and now collaborating with amazing business owners, leaders and teams, creating strategies and driving innovation to achieve results.

Today’s question:

Why is innovation a must-have for today’s new grads?

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Wendy’s Professional Perspective

In the business world, the speed of change is only increasing. In addition, consumers are now more educated and have more choice and accessibility to products and services than ever before. Companies are looking for new ways to compete and stand out.

The innovative employee is a rare commodity. Companies are looking for employees who understand the business, take initiative and offer solutions that make business sense.

I’m not talking about the clichéd and typical suggestion boxes here.  It is time for smart solutions that positively impact customers, employees, AND the bottom-line.

So how can you prepare yourself to make a difference for your employers and stand out by coming up with great ideas and solutions? Good news! You don’t need to be Steve Jobs to be innovative!  Here are some quick tips to point you in the right direction:

1. Don’t lose your creative mojo

The greatest thing about students like you is that you are fresh, energetic and eager. Use that energy to generate ideas by doing research and finding stimulus to make sure you are coming up with something new. Work with teams and others, get their thoughts and collaborate. The quality of your ideas radically improves by adding the diversity of others to the process.

Notice that I didn’t suggest “brainstorming”. That’s because traditional brainstorming methods will only result in ideas that are already percolating in your head. Push yourself to look at patents, trends, markets, insights, tech and dig deep to come up with new ideas. Once you get started, it gets fun! You’d be surprised at how much you can find in as little as an hour!

2. Critically think it through

It doesn’t take long to find the example of the passionate, unsuccessful inventor on Dragon’s Den. Avoid that. I’m glad that you love your idea…but will anyone else? Ideas are really a dime a dozen. But smart ideas are rare. So spend time critically thinking it through. Will it really work? Is it really all that unique? Now’s the time to think of all the things that may get in the way of your idea working. Test it out before you present it. Do a survey or conduct focus groups and get customer or user input. (Warning: don’t rely on just your family and friends opinions…get out there and get real feedback from people who aren’t worried about hurting your feelings!)

3. Get over it

So you got input that told you that your idea has flaws? GREAT! Now you have information to work with and the opportunity to build and improve your idea. Don’t waste time over analyzing…test your ideas, learn from the information, and ACT.  Make decisions. Make improvements. But do it quickly. This is not the time for analysis paralysis.

4. Make a case

I’m sorry, but any idea that doesn’t have a math model along with it isn’t worth listening to. Your boss is going to want to know what it is going to cost, how much revenue it will make or how it is going to save money for the company. What is the ROI on your idea? How long will it take to pay off the investment? What problem are you solving? Who is your customer? Make sure you are ready to communicate your idea clearly, confidently and with data. If math isn’t your thing, find someone who can help you. Your idea might be fantastic; but no math, no green light.

I guarantee you that if you can present your boss with smart, well thought out ideas with a business case…you will stand out.

Just remember who gave you this advice when you become my boss, k?


For more information on how to prepare for your job search, visit Student Employment Services’ Online Employment Resources or book an appointment with an RRC Employment Advisor at 204.632.3966 or JobCentre@rrc.ca.

Want to read more professional perspectives? Check out past editions here:
Professional Perspective: Beyond submitting job applications
Professional Perspective: Writing cover letters
Professional Perspective: Creating eye-catching resumes
Professional Perspective: Starting early with your job search

Professional Perspective Red River College Student Employment Services