These are challenging times for employees, with the global supply of labour increasing & wages growing slowly.
A macroeconomist might surmise that you should sit tight, pray for unemployment to fall, & wait for wages to rise again; but while this may be sound logic, hope isn’t a proactive strategy for individuals and it relies on outcomes you can’t influence.
To take control of your situation, you’ll need to learn the skills and find ways to add more value to more people.
Shooting for the stars
When the output of the economy is floundering below its capacity, it’s difficult to ask for something new or apply for more senior roles instead of moving laterally.
But aim to be confident and assertive to climb the career ladder systematically, rather than self-deprecating or apologetic.
By setting your sights higher you might land your dream position, while avoiding the demanding situation of applying for the same roles as younger applicants.
The blunt truth is employers tend to assess ambitious employees on an upwards career trajectory favourably, and if you don’t value yourself others won’t value you either.
In your element
It’s often said that you should be yourself, be true to yourself, recognise that you’re unique and there’s only one you…and so on.
This is potentially worthy advice, but with a caveat: don’t ignore the marketplace and what skills you might have that may be valued at a premium.
They say the magic happens when you stretch beyond your comfort zone, so why not try to combine who you are with your abilities to solve bigger problems, be that as an employee or in your own business?
Time for an upgrade
OK, that’s neat in theory; here are 5 steps to upgrading yourself:
(i) Know thyself – instead of comparing yourself too readily to others, take some time to consider your strengths, weaknesses, and preferences, as well as what you genuinely enjoy doing;
(ii) Research & plan – once you’ve clarified your purpose and the impact you want to have on others, you can put in place an action plan to achieve your goals, to be reviewed regularly;
(iii) Take action – develop and foster the skills & expertise you need to add more value, including formal education & qualifications where appropriate;
(iv) Mix in the right circles – network energetically and often. Both positive and negative emotions can be contagious, so be discerning about the company you keep. Find a mentor that can hold you to account, and model their strategies for success; and
(iv) Review experiences & learn – no journey to the top or through life involves a faultless upwards trajectory. There will be failures and setbacks along the way, so track your progress objectively, forgive or even embrace your mistakes, and resolve to learn from them.
Great businesses strive to thrive whether the economy is firing, spluttering, or indifferent…and you can do the same.
If you’re an employee, then the product is you.
Upgrade yourself, and you’ll increase your value!