The Value-Add Approach to Finding a Job

One of the biggest challenges I see for hiring managers in social enterprise is uncovering applicants who will add value among a pool of qualified applicants.

Qualified applicants went to a great school and earned a relevant degree. Qualified applicants have work experience in the right industry or functional area. Qualified applicants expect their credentials to speak for themselves.

Applicants who will add value, on the other hand, can identify specific challenges that they will solve. Applicants who will add value aren’t afraid to work outside of their core function to see a project or opportunity through to completion. Applicants who will add value can explain why they are the right next hire.

For any young professional, it’s important to realize that qualified applicants aren’t always the ones who can add the most value, and applicants who can add a lot of value don’t always fit the necessary qualifications.

For young professionals interested in social enterprise, I think this point is even more relevant since most social enterprises are small, growing organizations where every hire matters. Hiring managers are usually less concerned with hiring for a specific role and more concerned with finding the right person.

In a hiring culture that puts so much weight on the resume and the degree, I find it ironic that all most hiring managers really want is for someone to tell them exactly how they will solve specific, high-priority challenges in their organization. Sure, applicants need to have the skills and experience to back it up, but social enterprise hiring managers don’t really care about resumes or degrees if an applicantcan show them that they can add significant value.

It seems that many young professionals fall into the trap of showing how qualified they are rather than showing how they can add value because focusing value-add would mean leaving out other impressive skills and experiences. Instead, they try to show employers everything they've done.

The critical flaw in this line of thinking is that it’s not the hiring manager’s job to connect the dots between an applicant and the value they can bring to the organization. It’s on the applicant to make that connection as explicit as possible. 

So the next time you apply for a role in social enterprise (or any role), make it as easy as possible for the hiring manager to see how you can add value to their organization. Even if you aren’t a great fit for the specific role, they might just hire you anyways.