The Rebel Workplace

Yesterday I was surrounded by friends at a 4th of July BBQ and I brought up the subject of job hunting issues. Some of these friends have a job they are happy with, some have jobs they aren’t happy with, and some are unemployed and actively looking. Regardless of their situation, they all had the same issue: there is a lack of job availability. When they explained this issue, they mentioned that there were jobs out there for them based on their past experience but there was a lack of jobs available for things they were interested in/cared about. They said the jobs they wanted wouldn’t give them a second glance because they had no experience to slap onto their resume. So, of course, this got me thinking. What if there was a rebel workplace that went against the norms?

Now, this idea is just a crazy one I’ve stirred up in my head after the discussion with my friends. It could be completely out there but it’s something interesting to think about. What if a company could figure out a way to make it work? I like to call it the Rebel Workplace because it does the opposite of what we’re used to. For example, resumes and past experience will most likely be a moot point and applications will be based on what the individual is passionate about. Here’s the rough structure I was thinking of.

1. Application Process: The application process would be a series of questions that a candidate could respond to so they could show: what their interests are; what they are passionate about; why they are passionate about it; what they’ve done to stay current with the industry; and how they have pursued it so far. Additionally, there could be a section where a candidate could submit a portfolio of work they have done so far. For example, if someone is interested in graphic arts they could attach a PDF of a design they did in Photoshop or something of the sort. This could help hiring managers to see that not only do they have a general interest in it, but there is potential in their abilities.

2. Interview Process: Hiring managers and recruiters can build a series of interview questions based off the answers that the candidate provided. For example, if a candidate was interested in software development then the hiring manager could ask questions like: how did you become interested in this; what language is your favorite; what publications/blogs do you read to keep up to date with the industry; how did you teach yourself to code; what are some things you’ve created so far; what do you plan on doing with this?… etc. This can allow hiring managers to get a deeper understanding of the candidate’s passion for the job type, their drive to learn without former formal experience/education, and so on. The candidate can show they are dedicated to the subject.

3. Training: If a candidate is hired they can go into an extensive training program in the subject of their choice. To keep the company safe, they can do a typical “probation period” during this training period. The trainee will have several different mentors in their department. There can be directors which will be the SMEs of the subject. There can be a leadership team which would consist of individuals who have worked several years in the field and can do the job function without supervision. Under the leadership team could be an array of individuals that are managed by leadership and the directors. These are the people who have come out of training and are able to do their job functions but still need guidance from time to time. Under that level of employees will be the trainees, which will consist of the new hires. They will learn about the subject and job function with extensive training classes, workshops, conventions, and hands on training.

Turn over issues? It might help reduce turnover. People would be doing something they enjoy so their satisfaction levels will be higher. Also, sometimes people leave jobs to pursue other career paths. Well, this company obviously encourages people to do the things they are interested in. Maybe the candidate was really interested in finance and did it for a few years at the company but now they are looking to do something in marketing. Sometimes people realize that their passion for something wanes and they have a new passion. Instead of leaving the company to find a job in marketing, they can simply make a lateral change within the company to the marketing department and go through the training for that job.

The reason I thought of this type of workplace is because I’m curious to know how much better the employees would work if they were able to choose the job they were passionate about without being rejected for having lack of experience or education. The fact that they are genuinely interested in the subject will also make them try to learn more about it, even outside of work. This may even help them retain more information and ideas that they could put to use in the work place. Innovative ideas? Yup. They’ll probably be able to come up with those pretty easily since they’ll naturally live, eat, sleep, and breathe for it.

Hiring a workforce based on sincere passion and interest versus their past experience may be an interesting concept. How many of you fell into a career path that wasn’t relevant to what you wanted out of life at all? After years of doing it, you might have gotten stuck in it because no one was willing to take a chance on you for something different. What if there was a company that did? What if you could finally do the things you had hopefully intended on doing years ago but got stuck in a work cycle that you couldn’t break from?

I would like to know how much productivity goes up in this type of workplace. Would people be happier with their work because they actually care about what they’re doing? Would they feel like they are fulfilling a life dream and goal? Would they respect their employer for taking a chance on them and allowing them to contribute innovative ideas? Maybe it would be a good thing to test, and maybe it wouldn’t. All I know is that I hear the desperation and hidden hope in people’s voices when they talk about how badly they want to do the things they cared about. Why not give it to them?

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