Are You Invaluable?

Yesterday’s Boston Globe reported that the jobless plight continues: “5 million Americans have been out of work for more than six months, a record number that forecasts a slow, difficult recovery and a long period of high unemployment, according to Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies.”

If you are fortunate enough to have a job or a healthy customer list, are you making yourself invaluable to your employer? To your customers? Are you striving to do everything possible to move prospects from viewing your company or products as a “nice to have” to a “must have”? Are you doing everything possible to ensure your name never appears on the “short list” when management has to think about cost cutting? If not, why not?

Even if you believe that you are in a comfortable place with your job or customers, you should be striving to do everything possible to be seen as invaluable. Invaluable means it would hurt to lose you and – as much as one can be -  that you are irreplaceable. As an employee, you should especially drive to be irreplaceable because with the job market as it is, there are plenty of available workers who will line up to fill your shoes should they become vacant.

A few esy ways to become invaluable:

  • Don’t do what’s asked. Do more without having to be asked.
  • Go beyond the obvious. Attending a networking event? Reading a book? Joining a webinar? How can you bring lessons, leads or other value back to your organization or to your clients?
  • Pay attention to the competition (even if it’s not “your” job). Whether it’s another vendor or an industry colleague, know what they’re doing. Then strive to do more, better. Make suggestions to management to keep the entire company ahead of the curve.
  • Be visible. Visit your clients, ask your boss to lunch, send one new idea a day to your managers.
  • Don’t miss a brainstorm. In fact, suggest them yourself. And speak up during every single one. (Meetings, too!)
  • Be selfless. While it’s hard to think of others during a time when “personal branding” is all the rage, don’t forget about your existing employer or customers. Be sure that your efforts can be seen as mutually beneficial – to both you and your organization (or clients/customers).
  • Forget about your job description. Or at least don’t stay within its boundaries. Offer to take on new projects, grab assignments normally reserved for others when you see staff shortages, etc.
  • Improve, innovate, inspire. The recession can be tough on everyone – including your boss. While it can be hard to stay positive and upbeat, doing so will help you to stand out as a leader. A negative, controversial attitude will only make the situation worse – and it will be remembered. But working hard to improve everything you do, innovate in the way you do things, and inspiring others to do better will help you to be invaluable now – and well into the future.

What’s your advice for becoming invaluable?