Innovation is a key skill to have on your CV. 80% of CEOs believe that innovation drives efficiencies and leads to a competitive advantage. Being able clearly demonstrate you have brought innovation which is measurable within previous roles will greatly help you move your career forward. Being able to innovate demonstrates a number of desirable characteristics such as creativity, initiative, inherent interest in your role and commercial awareness. It also demonstrates one of the biggest desirable characteristics in an employee. Going beyond what you get paid to do.
How can you demonstrate innovation in your current role and what are the sources of innovation you can leverage?
You can sell any product or service to a business if you can clearly demonstrate just one of two things. My product or service can reduce your costs or increase your revenue. One area you can demonstrate innovation in your current role is by introducing processes which can create efficiencies.
For example, if you work in finance, audit or banking you’ll most likely work with excel. Often when new people join roles in this industry they inherit excel based processes which have been developed years ago. Each person who inherits the process never questions why this process exists and is there a better way of doing things. Often in excel process are very manual and can be automated. In some cases I’ve also seen people spending time producing reports which were no longer needed. (We added a password to the file and no one asked for it for over 4 weeks.)
Introducing new processes is a great way to demonstrate innovation. You can clearly quantify the benefit of the new process you’ve introduced. The time taken to complete the new process is measurable against the time taken to complete the old process. Being able to write on your CV you introduced a new process which resulted in the time taken to complete a task being reduced from 3 days to 1 day will make you stand out from other candidates.
Within your current role look for opportunities to complete processes more efficiently. You can also reach out to people in your network to understand how things are done in other companies. They may have a more efficient way of doing things.
Another way you can innovate is by increasing sales within the company. You don’t necessarily need to be a sales rep. You also suggest new products. With advances in technology there are new opportunities of selling and for product development.
If you work in sales you have many opportunities to try different methods which could increase your monthly sales. For example, one salesperson who worked in a remote software company wrote advertising material in her native language. She also created sales videos for Linkedin on her own free time.
The majority of candidates work to get paid. They do what they are asked, rarely taking initiative or implementing innovative ideas. As a hiring manager, when you finally come across someone who cares enough about their job to create advertising material on her own time your decision on which candidate to choose will be easy.
Sources of innovation
There are many different sources for you to find ideas to implement innovative ideas in your company. As already mentioned, if you have friends working in other companies you can ask them how they do things. Maybe you can get some ideas on how to implement better processes.
You can also look at the products of competitors to see if they have identified a gap in the market your company has missed. If you work in sales you can get great ideas from customers.
Finally, you can generate new ideas by looking at how new technology might present opportunities to do things differently. You can speak to people who are knowledgeable in this area and explain to them the problem you’re trying to solve.