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HR Departments All Over Can Take a Note From Steve Jobs

Since his passing last year, Steve Jobs has been all over the internet waves and pages. Walter Isaacson’s biography on Steve Jobs gave readers all over the world a glimpse into the thoughts, mannerisms and theories of an innovative genius. An “icon of applied inventiveness and applied imagination”, he married creativity and technology to yield results that have completely changed our lives- for better, worse or both. While many have come to believe that Jobs was rather a self-obsessed and brutal tyrant than an innovative genius, one can’t hide the fact that some of his ideas on hiring and conducting business could be noted by Human Resource departments coast to coast in order to better work environments and productivity.

What’s most interesting about Jobs’ hiring theories, is that he looked for pirates. At first glance you may picture a muscular, one-eyed sailor with rotting teeth and an extreme condition of scurvy. Rightfully so. However, this is clearly not what Steve Jobs meant by hiring pirates. According to Jobs, “it’s more fun to be a pirate than to join the navy.” So what exactly is a Steve Jobs pirate? On his terms, a pirate is someone that can still operate when rules and safety nets fall apart. They never stray from supporting one another and their leader in reaching a defined goal. In the wake of a difficult or dangerous situation, a pirate can still maintain their creativity and complete the task at hand no matter what comes up. “A pirate can act independently and take intelligent risks, but always within the scope of the greater vision and the needs of the greater team.” This is what Jobs looked for, and in reality, isn’t this what every business desires of their employees?

Dean Keith Simonton, a University of California psychology professor and an expert on creativity agrees by saying, “being aggressive, egocentric, or antisocial makes it easier to ponder ideas in solitude or challenge convention.” This way of operating clearly isn’t made for everyone, but as a lead innovator and technological genius, it fared pretty well for Jobs. He looked for people that were “bright and think different and are willing to go for it as part of a special, unified, and unconventional team” to work for him and his company. On top of these qualities, his team members needed to have a passion for their work. “When I hire somebody really senior, competence is the ante. They have to be really smart. But the real issue for me is, Are they going to fall in love with Apple? Because if they fall in love with Apple, everything else will take care of itself. They’ll want to do what’s best for Apple, not what’s best for them, what’s best for Steve, or anybody else.” It’s no secret that when a company’s employees are passionate about their work and love what they do, they will go to any lengths imaginable to perfect and heighten their work. Simply hiring workers that are competent and can get the job done wasn’t enough for Jobs, and really shouldn’t be enough for any company.

Jobs looked for diversity and individualism on his team. He hired those with diverse backgrounds and multiple sets of skills, much like himself. “A good technologist is a good technologist, but one with interests in philosophy, the arts, literature, and such really moved the needle,” explained Peter Sander, author of What Would Steve Jobs Do?: How the Steve Jobs Way Can Inspire Anyone to Think Differently and Win. Again, any company would likely be more apt to hire the programmer that also has a background in other fields over the programmer that strictly excels in programming. Having skill sets that span industries is a beneficial quality for any candidate to posses and when HR departments demand it, job seekers all over have to step up their game.

Steve Jobs’ methods aren’t just good guidelines for employers, but job seekers as well. If you work at possessing these qualities and skills, chances are you will be more marketable and more desirable to employers from all industries. Knowing what top-notch, successful workers are made of gives job seekers the guidelines to follow in order to be that top-notch worker.

SOURCE: Fast Co Design
IMAGE: Courtesy of Forbes

Nicole Nicholson

Nicole is the Content Editor for Spark Hire and mainly writes for and edits the work for the Spark News blog. She graduated in 2010 with a BA in Journalism from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. She has a passion for writing, editing, and pretty much anything to do with content. In her free time she frequents the Chicago music scene and writes reviews on shows for her own personal blog. Connect with Nicole and Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter