The problem with defining our value as a working professional is that most of us tend to do this by highlighting our credentials and allowing our audience to interpret how these accolades can benefit their situation. This can lead to misinterpretation or a downgrading of the true value you offer. More importantly, in today’s society of an instantaneous communication process, it’s more likely to deter your audience from reading your credentials altogether.
As technology expands into new horizons, it focuses on making communications faster and faster. Unfortunately, it means that we will include less and less information but we will convince ourselves that we can make better decisions that way. While I’m not sold on this idea, I think it’s important that we all understand the power of brief messages. Twitter type communications will create an impatient and “get to the point” audience. So, do you want to utilize the little time you’ll have in communicating your value by telling them about your credentials or do you want to briefly describe the benefits you’ll provide that they need?
When it comes to drawing interest from your employer, they are only interested in 3 things: making money, reducing cost and getting someone to do the crap they don’t want to do. If you can develop all of your marketing materials around these ideas, you’ll attract a lot more attention to your skill sets.
Making Money. This is your company’s purpose. There’s no greater value than someone who can generate revenue for their company. Usually, we look to sales people as the creators of growth in the company, which is why they get paid so well. But they aren’t the only ones who can demonstrate this value. You can create products, services, intellectual property, ideas, etc. I had a close friend who earned an MBA the same time I did. He took his new knowledge to the marketing department and helped them solve one of their toughest problems. He took that evidence to the CEO and got a $10,000 raise that week. It’s that easy. Don’t tell them how you can make money. Give them a little example of it. Then, tell them what it is worth to them. Once you put the money in the bank, send me some, since I gave you the idea.
Reducing cost. This is another huge activity companies engage in all the time. If they can reduce the cost to build the products and services, they can improve their margins and make more money. In my first job out of college, I asked my company to fire a contractor they had hired to do some programming for their industrial controls. You know, the software that keeps a production line running that builds products. Anyhow, my company was installing 10 new production lines in a large scale project. The contractor would program a production line, then charge my company money for putting the same program in the next production line. I told the company I could save them $30,000 on each production line. After I proved it, they gave me the project to run. Find better ways to do things with less effort and less time and you’re likely to find yourself in a much better financial position.
The Crap. This is my favorite part of defining your value. Most people don’t consider this to be of value but it’s a great skill to have in your toolbox. Businesses don’t run smoothly. I don’t care how many Harvard grads they hire (and I’ve worked under a few). They will run into obstacles. And when they run into obstacles, it costs the company money to figure out how to get around them. Why? If the problem is spotted near the top of the organization, they’ll contract a consultant to solve the problem who may know less about it than they do. Sometimes companies even create their own problems. I know…it’s hard to believe, but it’s true. I’ve seen companies buy smaller companies, then fire the sales people. Strangely, they can’t sell any products because they don’t understand the market or the customers. Step up and help out. Opportunities for helping here are abundant.
There are other times you can demonstrate some valuable skills, such as dealing with a “pain in the butt” customer. Companies have to show growth which means sometimes they have to work with customers they would rather not work with because they need the revenue. So they take the work. Here’s your opportunity. These are just a couple of examples of the kind of crap organizations get into in the quest for money. Most of the time no one wants to deal with such headaches. We all want the easy work that allows us to work on our “Career Plan B” during the day. I’m not saying you should sign up to handle all of the crap but it does have value. Here are a few kinds of crap dealing skills you can boast:
• Solving problems
• Dealing with difficult situations
• Creating and Leading Change
• Training and managing new people
• Working with other cultures
Defining your value can be done in just a few steps. First, consider the areas I discussed above. What skills do you possess related to these areas? Write them down. Then, take some time to think about what tangible evidence you have related to each one. What accomplishments prove you have the skill? If you don’t have any supporting evidence, go get some. Find opportunities by talking with other groups in your company about the problems they have. Help solve the issues. You might even take ownership of it and drive it to resolution. Lastly, deliver this info to those who can reward you for your efforts. That’s it….skills, evidence, and delivery.
Where do you market this value? Everywhere. Online profiles, cv/resumes, performance reviews, friends, etc. are great locations for your value. When people know what value you can provide, they’ll keep an eye out for opportunities to use your value, especially when it benefits them. Oh, and remember, getting all the crap jobs at work might not be so bad. It just might be a key definition of your contribution to the company.