10 Ways to Increase Your Value at Your Job
There’s no better time than the start of a New Year to improve your economic outlook.
This could mean getting a promotion or a raise within your current job, or moving to a new job within your company. It could mean raising your visibility by increasing the value of your contributions to the organization. Or it could mean increasing your personal value by becoming influential within your chosen field.
Read through the ideas below and then focus on one or more of these ways to increase your value (don’t over-commit, as that could set you up for failure and negatively impact your normal duties). As you do so, be sure to have a goal in mind. Are you shooting for a raise, or a promotion? Do you want to move out of your current job, or just get closer to your company’s executives? Figure out your goal and then proceed.
Here are 10 things you can do right now to position yourself for success in 2011 and beyond:
1. Look cross-functionally for a better or more fun job. If you think you are stuck in your current job, with boring tasks and no upward mobility, start investigating your company’s internal job board for better opportunities. You’ll probably perform better doing something new, interesting and personally gratifying.
2. Take a company-sponsored self-improvement course. Many HR departments have a suite of self-improvement courses available to all employees, including marketing, public speaking, software and hardware training, personal accounting and more. They may also offer discounts for courses at taught at local community colleges or by contractors. These can give you a competitive edge in promotion opportunities.
3. Select and communicate with a mentor. Find somebody within or outside your company that you trust and can connect with. Share with them your thoughts about your career, what you would like to be doing and where you see yourself in five or 10 years. Allow them to help guide you through a long-term, step-by-step path toward the career you want to realize. Communicate regularly and share you progress often.
4. Do some aggressive competitive analysis. Use LinkedIn, Google Reader, RSS Feeds and social sites to keep track of your competitors. Conduct a market analysis to determine their strengths and weaknesses, as well as their perceived strengths and weaknesses (often not the same thing). Suggest several ways to take advantage of this.
5. Become your company’s best resource for market-level social knowledge. Using a variety of social media resources, curate information about the market you serve. If you are a business-to-consumer company, you should be listening to what consumers have to say about your brand and others like it. If you are a business-to-business company, you should be listening to what your customers’ customers say about them. Look also for emerging trends, new products that may impact the market, and influencers who are coloring the perception of your industry. Write up a market analysis, including recommendations for engaging in these discussions and bringing the company into the social age.
6. Turn your complaints or observations into not just ideas, but strategies and plans for implementation. Many employees don’t move up because they lack the ability to turn good ideas into action. They are brilliant idea people or even strategists, but they can’t actually drive a project through to completion. As a result, their efforts often fare no better than common complaints. If you have an observation about a shortcoming that you would like to share with your boss, consider an actionable course of action that would solve the issue before you have that conversation. One caveat: You’ll make enemies if you have this conversation with someone else’s boss.
7. Immerse yourself in the history of your industry. Amazingly, history tends to repeat itself even in business. In addition, many of the players in your corporate ecosystem have worked with your company before, often in different roles at different companies. By researching the history of your industry, you will have a better understanding of how it got started and where it is going. You’ll also be able to talk about this competently with upper management, which is usually equally well-versed in market history.
8. Write consistently. Tweet and blog about your chosen career and your experiences within it. You may be surprised to find that there are many people who are genuinely interested to know what you have learned. If you do this well, over time you may be considered an industry influencer with a large and relevant audience that is of great value not only to you, but your company and industry as well.
9. Participate in trade associations or groups around your profession. Again, by communicating extensively with others in your field, you stand a good chance of learning valuable tricks that can be used at work, as well as sharing good information which may be of value to others. This enhances your own value in the industry and increases your visibility with upper management. You may also learn other skills, such as project management, event promotion, public speaking or business management as result of volunteering for service positions in these groups.
10. Once you’ve achieved some of these goals, set up an interview for that raise or promotion. Don’t wait until you have completed all of the self-improvement projects above to make that move. If you do, your projects will have run their course and management will fail to see their relevance going forward (corporate management has a very short term memory.) Go in to the interview fully prepared, with examples of you work, outcomes and recommendations from others. Show them your ongoing projects and when you plan to complete them.
Whether you are successful or not the first time around, management will get it that you are prepared to work proactively to improve yourself and your career. This never goes unrewarded.
Good luck, and Happy New Year!