In a report from the Age Smart Employer Award program, a project of Columbia University’s Columbia Aging Center at the Mailman School of Public Health, companies are now realizing that by hiring, retaining and using older workers strategically, they can solve a variety of pressing problems business owners face. The traits most valued for employers are soft skills like the ability to be innovative, flexible, and creative.
What are employers really looking for?
For this article, we will focus on showcasing your ‘innovative abilities,’ as this is one of the soft skills currently most in-demand by employers. This trait typically unveils itself only after comes with years of experience and wisdom. By focusing on this skill, you stand out from the competition who has not yet acquired this desirable ability.
Specifically, innovative skills are those that help you generate and implement new ideas or ways of doing things. You might think of it as the ability to find ways of improving processes, products or customer experience to impact efficiencies or effectiveness – and ultimately the bottom line.
How do I demonstrate that I am innovative?
Prepare the best example you can think of using the STAR Method outlined below that demonstrates that you are innovative. Employers are seeking candidates that can adapt to changing conditions and help improve the quality of the workflow. By focusing on this trait, you bring the point of attention to you as the best employee for the job!
The goal here is to provide evidence of your accomplishments that are unique to you and only you! To aid you in finding this evidence in your work history, we are including a formula below that draws upon your experiences:
Utilize the STAR method to formulate a strong answer. STAR is an acronym:
- ST– specific situation, task or problem
- A– actions completed to resolve the issue
- R– results that describe how the situation went from negative to positive and the impact (quantify with # or % when possible)
Remember, innovative behavior describes all activities that belong to generating, evaluating, realizing and implementing of new ideas.
Here are some thought starters to tap into when creating STARs that showcase your accomplishments resulting from your ability to be innovative:
- Provide an example of when you were persistent and it paid off.
- When were you open to a change and what occurred because you were flexible?
- Do you have a visionary view on challenges and solutions? If so, provide an example of this using the STAR method.
- When did you perform an independent search for information, resources and support to get the job done?
- Are you known for being proactive in the pursuit of ideas?
- Are you efficient and effective? Can you quantify what impact this has had on your role, department and/or the company?
- Did you ever play a role and/or were you solely responsible for creating and using new paths to reach the company’s goals?
- Tell the reader about a time when you had to locate and use new resource to complete a project. This can be a tool, instrument, staff, software, etc…
Take the STARs you just created by answering the questions above and boil them down into bullet points. Include these in your resume and LinkedIn profile, and include them in your elevator speech when networking.
Use these STARs when interviewing to provide evidence and facts that demonstrate you are the best candidate for the role. Evidence is hard to dispute and is unique to you and only you. Employers know that personal traits cannot be trained, so by emphasizing this strength, you are persuading hiring authorities that age is nothing but a number and you have the trait they desire!
All innovative activity of a company can be traced back to only one thing – the behavior of employees. Therefore, by clearly providing evidence of your previous innovative behaviors and successes via the STARs above, you are aligning your background with their exact needs. When this match is made, the decision is easy – you are the person for the job!
“Be an innovator, not an imitator.” – Audrey Carballo