Making yourself more valuable to employers is a no-brainer. Whether you’ve already got a job and are trying to keep it, or want to build your resume to improve your chances of getting the next great job, making yourself more valuable is both a good idea and pretty easy to do.
Raises, promotions and job stability all stem from your value, so don’t ignore this crucial aspect of being an employee. Here are five simple steps you can take to ensure you’re more likely to get a job, less likely to be laid off, and all around better positioned to succeed in work and life.
#1 Add to Your Own Job Description
Don’t wait for your employer to give you more responsibility. Just take it. If you see a problem, jump in with a solution. Float it to your boss or, better yet, just quietly get the job done and wait for her to notice. She will eventually.
If you want to be more proactive, ask for additional work without asking for additional compensation at the same time. Complete the projects you’re working on before asking, though; it doesn’t make you look good to try and take on more responsibility when you haven’t met your current commitments.
#2 Ask for Help When You Need It
This is perhaps the best thing you can do to increase your value to employers. Muddling through is a big source of wasted money for companies. Failing to meet client or customer expectations, filling out forms or filing paperwork incorrectly, struggling with programs, using ineffective sales techniques … these are all good ways to waste time and funds, but not particularly effective ways to impress your boss.
When asking for help, be sure to go humbly. Explain that you’ve tried to solve the problem yourself – giving specific examples of what you’ve already done – and ask what you should do instead. Don’t be defensive or blame the problem on someone else, both of which send your employer the message that you can’t take responsibility and shouldn’t be trusted with more of it.
On a final note, be sure to ask if you’ve specifically done anything wrong. Knowing what not to do is just as instructive as knowing what to do, and it will only benefit your performance to possess this information.
#3 Set Your Own Stretch Goals … and Meet Them
Setting your own stretch goals is an excellent way to make your boss proud and climb the ladder at work. Stretch goals are ambitions that go above and beyond what you’ve been asked to accomplish in a certain time period – such as the space between annual reviews. If you can set and reach additional goals, you’re bound to impress. Consider trying to:
- Hit a personal sales best
- Cut expenses by a certain percentage
- Gain x number of new customers in y time period
- Contribute an actionable idea to your team once a month that sees ROI
- Gain a certain number of followers on social media
It doesn’t really matter what goal you set, as long as you know it will help your company succeed. Wait until you’ve reached your goal, then let your boss know about your achievement. This will make you doubly valuable: You not only set goals that help the team, you do it without being asked.
#4 Ask for Feedback
Many people are afraid to ask for feedback, because they feel like it opens them up to criticism that they might otherwise avoid. This, however, is erroneous thinking. In fact, you are more likely to receive criticism by avoiding requests for feedback, because you don’t have as good a chance of identifying and changing problems in your behavior, approach to work or interaction with team members before they become serious issues.
When asking for feedback, it’s best to avoid doing so at an annual or semiannual review. Since the whole point of a review is to talk about what you’re doing right and wrong, it won’t make you look particularly go-getting to do so at that time. Instead, take the opportunity to do it at informal meetings, while discussing clients or new programs at work, or just while chatting at the water cooler.
#5 Encourage Others to Be Top Performers
Being a top performer is awesome, but if you can take that skill to the next level and create top performers around you, employers will really start to take notice. But wait, you’re thinking, aren’t they responsible for their own performance?
Well, sure, but if you can encourage others to greater heights of productivity, teamwork and innovation, you’re doing your company – and therefore your employer – a great service. They’re bound to notice, especially if you continually take on more challenging roles (see Step 1) and delegate without being authoritarian. This is a great way to earn management and leadership roles, and with them, raises and promotions.
Of course, following the steps above won’t guarantee that you ever experience career setbacks, get laid off or suffer a disappointment when it comes to raises or promotions. But by using these strategies, you are more likely to succeed in your work, more likely to endear yourself to employers, and more likely to catch the attention of those who can seriously open doors and offer opportunities that will better your future.