HUMAN RESOURCES

5 Signs You're Unemployable

Entrepreneurs often joke that they're unemployable. There's a lot of truth to that.
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Yahoo! acquired micro blogging software Tumblr for $1.1 billion this June, and asked founder David Karp to stay on as an employee. Do you think he’ll still be with the company by Labor Day? I doubt it.

Forbes reports that Karp walked away from the Yahoo! deal with roughly $200 million, so he doesn’t need the job. I think it is more than his financial independence that will drive him out of Yahoo! In fact, my guess is--and I’ve never met Karp in person--he is probably unemployable.  

Here are five signs that you, too, may be unemployable:

1. You’re smarter than your boss, even though you don’t have an MBA

True entrepreneurs get bored quickly in school. The list of college dropouts includes Tumblr’s Karp and other names you might know: Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Ellison, Michael Dell and Bill Gates, to name just a handful out of hundreds of household names that did not have the patience for school.

Big companies use advanced degrees as a way to filter out candidates for hiring and advancement; so if you don’t have an MBA, you’ll forever be smarter than the guy or gal you’re working for.

2. You get distracted easily

JetBlue’s founder David Neeleman is one of the more public examples of the well-documented link between ADD/ADHD and entrepreneurship. Some say his ADD/ADHD contributed to the board removing Neeleman as JetBlue’s CEO in 2007. Many studies have made the connection between ADD/ADHD and entrepreneurship. There is even a LinkedIn group called “The ADD/ADHD Entrepreneur” for these entrepreneurs to connect online.

Signs you have ADD/ADHD include being distracted easily, starting several projects without finishing them, and being a hands-on learner. Sound familiar? If so, don’t expect to last as a company man or woman.

3. You think visually

Have you downloaded the Penultimate app for your iPad because you like to draw ideas? Do you find yourself jumping to the white board in a meeting room to try to describe a situation visually? An inclination towards visual thinking is an indicator of ADD/ADHD and another sign you should avoid getting a job where you have to lobby for your ideas in writing.

4. You have trouble listening to others

Some of my favorite entrepreneurs love talking about themselves. They like describing in detail their latest innovation, which is great if you’re in the mood to be regaled. The problem is this: If you try to enter into the discussion, their eyes start to drift, and it’s clear they are just waiting for a lull in the conversation so they can start talking again. It’s so natural, you probably don’t even know you’re doing it, so ask a buddy you trust or a spouse who will give it to you straight. If you tend to be distracted when other people are talking, avoid going to work for someone who not only will want to talk, but who also will expect--even insist--that you listen.

5. You start lots of projects that go unfinished

Be honest: Do you find yourself starting something only to lose steam when you come up with your next great idea?  That’s fine if you run your own company where you can delegate the execution to others, but it also makes you difficult to manage. Bosses like innovation to a point, but companies need employees who have the patience to see their ideas through.

Every entrepreneur has been faced with the question: Should I get a job? Some new grads decide to put their entrepreneurial dreams on hold to get some training on someone else’s dime before they start a business. Other owners get an offer to buy their company, contingent on them working for the acquirer for a few years. In still other cases, the entrepreneur’s company fails, leaving him with the decision to start something new or get a job to make ends meet.

Which leaves you, the entrepreneur, with one more question: Are you employable? If not, you--like Karp--should probably stick with owning a company, not working for one.

Last updated: Jul 24, 2013

JOHN WARRILLOW | Columnist | Sellability

John Warrillow is the author of Built to Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You and the founder of The Sellability Score, a cloud-based software company that helps business owners improve the value of their company.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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