I was prompted to click on a Business Insider post via Facebook yesterday. “Get hired and stay hired,” it said, and linked to an article titled “The 5 Traits of a Company’s Top Talent.” It was a thoughtful post by Beth Kuhel, founder of Get Hired. But the whole time I was reading the post, which in all fairness, like many Business Insider posts, was a repurposed NYT article, I couldn’t shake the thought: “Does top talent really stay hired?
Top talent, Kuhel explained, are the more innovative types and tend to possess an “entrepreneurial spirit.” It reminded me of a firm where I used to work. The people were great, the work was great, but there was one thing that always bothered me: they referred to everyone who worked there as an entrepreneur. Without ever taking on considerable financial risks to start our own businesses, the two definitional components of an entrepreneur, there we were, all of us entrepreneurs. If you solved a problem, you were an entrepreneur. If you signed a new client, you were an entrepreneur. Not an innovator or a go-getter, an entrepreneur. Obviously we weren’t actually entrepreneurs, and that’s what bothered me. They’re not alone, not at all. So many companies say that they attract “entrepreneurial employees.” People with entrepreneurial spirits leave; they don’t “stay hired.” If you’re an entrepreneur, by definition, you’re not working for someone else.
The NYT article that Kuhel was paraphrasing (hers has now been viewed over 51,000 times – gotta love Business Insider’s approach) was based on an interview between Adam Bryant and Laszlo Bock, SVP of people operations at Google. That’s one of the few companies that can actually say they attract entrepreneurial employees. And they prove they’re entrepreneurial when they leave and start a new company, which happens quite often.
Quick recap. In order to get hired and stay hired, you must have an entrepreneurial spirit. In order to have an entrepreneurial spirit, you can’t stay hired.