Reinforce your value to your current or next employer
The employment market remains volatile as COVID-19 continues to rage across the country. Although the predominant economic impact of COVID-19 was initially on the airlines, hospitality and other service industries, it is now affecting manufacturing, academia and even healthcare. If you haven’t already lost your job, you may be wondering how in the world you can save yourself from a layoff. A fancy title isn’t likely to save you when it comes down to making cuts or getting reemployed. Reinforcing your value will.
The key to understanding your value to your organization (or any organization) requires knowing what is going on in the world and how those events are specifically impacting it. With budgets cuts affecting many sectors, the need to do more with less has been heightened. Taking a proactive approach right now could make all the difference between your staying and leaving. It is in your best interests to improve the position of your department and the larger organization’s ability to combat the financial issues that may be looming. The following action steps may help you increase your value.
Find the problem that no one is fixing.
Find out what is needed. First, find out what the organization’s new/changed goals are. Then find the problem that no one is fixing. Make sure your solution is clearly tied to a larger goal. What else can you offer that you haven’t yet thought of? With many workplaces functioning virtually, you may be receiving more email communications that include information about other departments. Read them. Look for clues. Pay attention to the information presented during company meetings. If your group communicates via Teams, Slack or other forms of messaging, read what people are sharing. You can learn more about your organization by listening to conversations that don’t typically involve you.
Be visible (but not obnoxious). Taking on tasks that don’t ordinarily create visibility can work in your favor because others may have passed them over for being too mundane. The trick is carrying them out and defining the impact your work actually has (again, in relationship to the goals that have been set). Make sure your supervisor is aware of what you are doing via email reports that include the outcomes. Reinforce your value by describing what you did and the outcome. Make reporting your contributions become 2nd nature. You never know when you may need to reach out to any of the people you interact with and call upon them to serve as a reference.
Support something important. Yes, I know it’s possible that being a joiner may go completely against your nature. But isolating could leave everyone unaware of what you do or how you contribute. Now’s the time to support newly established, organization-wide initiatives. You may see an increase in programs that have developed in response to a previously lax position on social justice, equality, inclusion and diversity, or maybe they are taking a stronger look at environmental concerns. If you want to avoid potentially political issues, then join the Safety Committee. Now, more than ever, safety is a high priority for any organizations that still have staff on site. Find and join any of the existing committees that are dedicated to evaluating process improvements.
The change in today’s market compared to the past year is like night and day. If you have already been laid off, then now is not the time to throw resumes at job postings that “sound interesting.” Stop wasting your time by throwing spaghetti at the wall. Wannabes aren’t going to come out ahead in this market. You need to know that you have what the organization needs and can produce evidence of it. Look at yourself from their perspective instead of focusing only on what they offer that you want. Cruising through job announcements every day may feel like you are doing something, but there is much more work required at this stage of your job search if you want to get back on track.
Research. Approach your job search with the same effort that you would put into searching for a buried treasure. Follow clues and dig for information. Know what you are going after and find out what you are getting into. Learn about the companies that are most likely to survive the impact of the pandemic. Talk to employees and managers of the company in advance of applying to learn more about what they need. What’s broken? Can you fix it?
Demonstrate your value. A fancy resume that has no substance isn’t going to cut it. Make sure your resume describes your work in relevant terms. Include outcomes when at all possible. Know precisely what the company needs so that you can translate what you have done into a way that matches. Don’t assume they will understand how your skills transfer if the work or industry is different. Spell it out. A carefully edited resume helps you to focus on what is important as much as it helps the recipient to recognize your value.
Be prepared. If you have applied, then you must expect to be contacted. Prepare your answers to anticipated questions. Make sure you can walk the talk. In other words, make sure your stories evolve from your resume. Explain relevant outcomes/events/situations that were referenced in your resume in more detail vs. talking about work that was completely unrelated. Notify your references and make sure they understand what you will be doing so they are prepared to relate your value to the potential employer.
If you are demonstrating your value to the right audience, you’ll be able to prevail. Being flexible in what you are willing to do will help you inside of your current organization or when looking at the next. The road ahead is going to be tough, but it isn’t impossible.