Why employers value creativity (and 5 ways to elevate your own)

A student lays in the grass with the Calgary downtown skyline in the background. A though bubble graphic with sketches of a laptop, lightbulb, book and other images is shown above the student.
Creativity is often associated with painting or drawing a picture, but this soft skill doesn’t have to be about artistic expression.

You’re writing your resumé, and you hit the dreaded skills section. Microsoft Word, working knowledge of Excel, cats love me … okay that’s not likely to get an employer’s attention. But SAIT’s Lamb Learner Success Centre and Career Advancement Services can tell you what will: creativity.

“Creative thinkers bring new perspectives and ideas to the table that help businesses outgrow old ways of doing things or acknowledge biases and prejudices they weren’t aware of in the past. That’s very valuable in many employers’ eyes,” says Emily Byrne, Career Advisor with Career Advancement Services.

What does it mean to be creative?

“Creativity is the ability to develop something original and valuable by using our imagination, accumulated knowledge and past experiences,” says Shauna Issler, Learning Strategist with Lamb Learner Success Centre.  “It can be tangible, such as a piece of artwork, or intangible, like a new software system. Creativity is a skill we can learn to create new ideas and use information in new ways.”

Creativity can occur in any field — from arts and sciences to business, technology and math. It’s a key ingredient in learning and innovation, both in the classroom and the workplace.

Why do employers value creativity?

Creativity serves several purposes within an organization. Not only does it help our brains adapt to changing situations, but it also allows us to be receptive to new ideas and maintain an open mind.

As businesses expand and become more competitive, they need imaginative thinkers to create solutions to complex problems.

“When trying to stay competitive, employers value individuals who can think of creative solutions to industry problems,” says Byrne.

How do you show creativity at work?

If you’ve ever collaborated with others on a group project or brainstormed a list of ideas before deciding on a solution to a problem, you’ve engaged in creative thinking. These are also transferable ways you can show your creativity in the workplace. Other examples include:

  • writing computer code
  • automating a work task
  • finding ways to cut costs on a project.

So, how can you harness creativity to help you land your next job? Try these tips.

Ways to cultivate creativity

Be curious about everything. Creativity is being able to connect the dots between different types of information and experiences. If you're curious about the world around you, you’ll be able to ask more questions and connect more dots.

Ask big questions. Asking big questions challenges conventional thinking and helps arrive at solutions you may not have considered if you hadn't questioned the status quo.

Consume content. Get inspired by seeing creativity in action — whether that’s looking at artwork, reading a new book genre or binging the latest series on Netflix. By consuming a range of content, you’ll discover new perspectives and ideas. This will add to your ability to connect more dots and maybe even get inspired to create your own content!

Listen to a TED Talk or watch a documentary. Discovering videos of inspiring and brilliant people can expand your views and heighten your curiosities about various topics.

Understand the creativity faucet. Visualize creativity as a backed-up pipe. The first part is packed with wastewater that must be emptied before the clear water can arrive.

Now apply this to creativity. You must get through every wastewater idea that comes to mind. Once the bad ideas are emptied, better and clearer ideas begin to arrive.

Brainstorm solutions to a complex problem. The beginning of a brainstorm session can be daunting. You have a blank piece of paper. The ideas haven’t started flowing yet, but this is where you need to remove the wastewater. Start writing whatever comes to mind. Soon the ideas will start flowing and eventually you’ll get to the good stuff.

Continue the journey towards career and creative success!

Career preparation begins the moment you step foot on campus. Check out Career Advancement Services for more career readiness tips, resume help, interview skills and more!

Visit the Lamb Learner Success Centre for learning strategies and more ways to boost your creativity #HereatSAIT.

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