Before I started my sales career, I had a very brief spell as an apprentice electrician – but it wasn’t right for me. I realized I was more interested in business, and fascinated by working with people.

However, I left confident that I was capable of more than my CV suggested. People stereotype and pigeonhole candidates, but businesses need to look at the capability within individuals rather than just their experience. We’ve been far more successful with those recruits we’ve grown and developed, while a lot of big companies miss out on this type of talent because of what is – or more often isn’t – in their past.

Entrepreneurship builds great teams

There’s so much untapped potential out there, and we look for a kind of entrepreneurship in our candidates. That’s what builds great teams. We want staff that aren’t afraid of creative thinking and thrive on solving problems.

The problem is that too often schools train children to remember rather than think, and the business community needs to take responsibility for building better links with education establishments across the country.

Schools, colleges and universities don’t talk enough about the fact you can become self-sufficient and take your destiny in your own hands by being entrepreneurial – even within a workplace. But that’s unlikely to change without stronger links from the business community, and we all bear the cost.

Fight for success

The difficult truth is that the system won’t carry you along; you’ve got to fight for your success and push yourself, and the commercial world is at odds with the academic world. Entrepreneurial people tend to make up the rules themselves. They make mistakes, but they keep going until it’s refined and successful.

A combination of practical, commercial-minded thought processes and individual motivation is what’s missing. So when we spot candidates with those qualities, they’re the ones we look to hire. A big strand of what’s at our core is giving people an opportunity.

There are no limits

We want our employees engaged and coming in to a great place to work. Building successful teams fascinates us. We want people who don’t know where their limits are, whereas sometimes a person’s experience means they don’t believe they can achieve anything more. When those beliefs are already in place, either because of their education or previous work environments, it’s very difficult to remove them and start again.

Speaking to others, most seem to be of the same opinion. Too many people leave university and don’t have these beliefs in them. Universities are looking at skills rather than beliefs. But it’s a lot harder to change ingrained beliefs rather than develop skills.

It’s time we changed our focus – and that includes the business community.

Richard Heyes is managing director of Manchester-based digital agency Tecmark.

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