Recognizing Opportunities: How to Become an Invaluable Player

Invaluable — something indispensable, vital and necessary to daily operations. That’s what you want to be to your employer. Getting to that point takes hard work, dedication and awareness. You also need insight — an understanding that goes beyond the obvious — so that you can anticipate changes in the marketplace and grasp the implications of those changes for your company and for your career. Becoming aware of these changes will help ensure that you have a continually evolving career, as opposed to simply having a particular role or function.

Becoming an invaluable employee begins with a desire to learn

Strive to develop cutting-edge expertise. That means learning everything you can about what’s changing in your world. Almost every industry sector is bombarded with new regulations and new technologies, including software, hardware and reconfigured processes. Many industries are also impacted by issues such as health and safety requirements and by compliance issues.

If you work in the banking arena, for example, you are no doubt aware that the Federal Reserve has proposed streamlining the annual stress tests that The Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 mandated for large banks. How will this move affect your position? How can you contribute to driving the effectiveness of your organization’s risk and compliance programs? You may have the opportunity to be among the first to tackle the challenges that regulatory uncertainty imposes, and that will make you an invaluable team member.

Becoming an invaluable employee continues with informed responses to market shifts

Among significant shifts today is the Baby boomer shift. Many senior workers are delaying retirement due to employer demand, resulting in targeted retention programs. Baby boomers often have valuable institutional information that hasn’t been systematically passed down, and this provides an opportunity for you to learn from them and build upon that knowledge. Recognize that Baby boomers have value and purpose, and they continue to contribute to the workforce in a positive way. You can leverage this expertise by acquiring senior mentors with the ability to challenge you and contribute to your becoming a more valuable employee.

Another shift that should command your attention is the BRIC Nations shift. The acronym stands for Brazil, Russia, India and China, four of the world’s emerging but not yet fully developed economies. It is argued that these four countries will collectively be the most successful and influential in the world by the year 2050. Each of them has a unique, highly differentiated base of competitive advantages that are in demand globally, across both manufacturing and services-based industries.

Although each of these countries faces challenges that affect their projected dominance, their sheer size, their vast resources, and their youthful populations ensure that they will influence developments across most industries and companies. It is imperative that you understand the implications specific to your industry and your company. Identify areas of particular concern, project responses to increasing competition, and determine what would allow your company to meet this shift.

Becoming an invaluable player requires seeking out sources of insight

In today’s world you can tap into an ever-increasing wealth of ways to develop insight into the world economy, your specific industry and the future. These include your social media contacts, your professional associations and your LinkedIn communities, all of which allow you to exchange information, learn about new developments and extend your range of influence.

Beyond this, social media is becoming a larger influence in the hiring process. A recent SHRM study, for example, showed that 35 percent of employers are hesitant to interview a candidate who does not have an online presence. Additionally, the 2018 MRINetwork Reputation Management Study found that 48 percent of candidates felt their social media presence would be an important factor to future hiring managers.

Social media is a powerful tool for networking. Network with your coworkers and add them to social sites. Twitter is a great way to follow important leaders in your field, to keep up with the most up-to-date information, and to follow companies that interest you. LinkedIn is a great resource to showcase your professional achievements and make connections with other industry professionals. Social media just gets bigger and continues to grow daily; using it effectively can aid immeasurably in your quest to become an invaluable player.

Becoming an invaluable player means managing your career

There are some clear “do’s” and “don’ts” involved in making yourself indispensable to your company. Although they’re mostly common sense, they are worth reviewing.

Avoid the following pitfalls:

-Don’t become the “Legacy Expert”
-Don’t become complacent
-Don’t coast
-Don’t suffer a post-accomplishment letdown

Advance Internally by:

-Documenting your current accomplishments
-Identifying the impact of those accomplishments
-Finding your next problem to solve
-Seeking a mentor
-Gaining the specialized skills

Advance Externally by:

-Identify a search consultant who dominates your market
-Identify the most important problems you can solve for a new company
-Identify the most important opportunities you can seize for a new company
-Be open to both direct hire and project work
-Your highest and best use might be reached as a contractor!

You have a great deal of control over the way your career progresses and how valuable you become to your employer. It requires effort and vigilance and smart planning. You’ll face many challenges, but those challenges also represent great opportunity. Seizing those opportunities and making the most of them are among the most rewarding experiences you’ll encounter during the course of your career.