Hybrid background? A terrific job qualification.

I spoke recently with an executive who had a most successful corporate career in the TV business and has since for some years been in more entrepreneurial positions developing projects and new businesses. He wants to get back to a more structured environment but is concerned that having been out of the corporate system for some years might disqualify him. His thought was that corporations are looking for neat fits of people who are currently or have recently been in corporate jobs and that his time outside the fence would disqualify him.

Well it shouldn’ t. Everyone I talk to in big media firms is telling me the same story  and that is of restructuring and rethinking and new business models and fewer people doing the work that used to be done by many … and smaller paychecks. Does that sound right, my corporate friends?

My experience is that people who have grown up in highly structured organizations where everyone knows where they fit into the pecking order, and who has what title and so on, are not always the best people to implement the kinds of changes that are needed to bring media firms up to date. The status quo that corporate employees have long thrived on is dead. That security blanket is no more. In fact things will be in a constant state of flux for the foreseeable future so anyone who works best in a fixed orbit with known parameters will not fare well or be sufficiently effective.

But someone who has not only worked successfully in a corporate environment, yet can also bring first hand experience of an inventive, open and entrepreneurial way of thinking to the table, will be enormously valuable in so many companies today. This combination is something that corporate managers should be looking for.

I suggest to you that if you have this hybrid background, you would do well to frame yourself in those terms: as an entrepreneurial change agent who is excited at the prospect of helping to mold the new media world, yet still able to work collegially within the system.  This combo could be your edge.

So this is a word to corporate hiring executives and to those who aspire to get in there and help reinvent the media business. All experience is good experience. And a candidate with a variety of experience is often a stronger one than the person who has stayed “on track” for their whole career.

This article by Michael Pollock first published in Cynopsis Advantage.

  • Great insight, Michael.

    As someone who works at a not-for-profit that is restructuring, it's interesting to see the new hires in the organization. There is a mix of young and not so young folks, all of which offer some previous experience in corporate environments and "out of the box" environments. But, many of the more traditional NPO we work with do not share this method of restructuring. It will be interesting to see how this organizations, and many others, adapt in the years to come.

  • Love your insight, Michael. I wish some of the bigger publishing organizations shared it! I've interviewed with quite a few of the major players (Conde Nast, Scripps Networks, Meredith, Rodale) over the last 10 months and hiring managers seem fairly trepadacious about hiring those with a combination of corporate plus out of the box experience. It's a puzzle.

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