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  • Your Job Description Is Your Baseline: Try Exceeding It!

    Most employees assume that their responsibility with their firm is to meet the criteria outlined in their job description. While it’s true that you will be appraised based on how well you meet this criteria and satisfy your requirements, that’s not going to make you stand out in today’s challenging job market. In years past, if you consistently fulfilled all the tasks associated with your job description, it would be enough to meet your managers’ expectations and could even get you a promotion.  Today this is not the case.

    According to SimplyHired.com, (a job listing aggregator) also cross-references Bureau of Labor Statistics data with its postings, and comes up with its own most-competitive metro area list. It says there are 8 unemployed people per job opening.  This explains why in today’s corporate world you need to have a different attitude than your parents had in order to stay employed, get noticed, stand out from the crowd and move up in your firm. Every employee can improve their standing in the workplace by adhering to certain adaptable work place practices.

    These ideas may seem obvious at first glance but implementing them in one’s daily routine is not easy.  It requires discipline and a conviction that your contribution can make a difference in your work environment and in your career advancement. Try using these strategies to reinvent yourself and become what recruiters refer to as “top talent.”

    The first thing I tell my clients who are starting a new job is this: Your main job should be to KEEP your job! At first glance, this statement may not seem so profound but in today’s economy it is a real challenge for many employees. It’s important to consider every day at work why your company needs you and what you can do above and beyond in completing your prescribed job description to take on more capacity and add value to your firm.

    Here’s a general rule about the most successful employees: They come early and stay late, try harder, and continually advance their skills. The most valued employees don’t limit themselves (nor their work) by their job description. They tend to be flexible and find creative ways to help their department succeed.

    Here are five ways you can become indispensable at work and take your career to the next level

    Invest 10 percent of your time in personal growth: Focus on building new relationships at conferences, at networking events, doing charity work, blogging and by learning a new skill that could be useful to your firm.

    Make Your manager successful:  Do everything they ask and then ask for more ways to help out. Take on projects that no one else wants to do and make sure you get face time with him or her as much as possible.

    Become the go-to expert In your field

    Forbes columnist Dan Schawbel says that in order to have a successful career, now more than ever you’ll need to work as hard as you can to become indispensable at work because there will always be someone else in the world who will do the same work with a smile. When your manager, your co-workers, and executives view you as a valuable asset, it’s likely that you will get a raise, promotion, and have a very successful career.

    Become an expert in some essential field of activity. Become THE expert. Get yourself known as the first and obvious person to turn to on anything to do with your chosen subject. Read all you can about the subject. Speak on the subject whenever you are given the chance, at meetings and in presentations. Publish internal reports, making sure that the circulation list includes the top management.

    Make sure that your subject is essential to the company – to its manufacturing process, to its sales methods, to its essential competitive edge, to its debt collection. Whatever it is, make sure that you are widely accepted as THE expert.

    Above and beyond all this advice, make it your driving goal to add value to your team.  

    Add value wherever you can! 

    Go above and beyond the call of duty:  In order to create trust and build respect in the workplace you have to do more than you’ve been asked to do. Come early, stay late and be faster than your co-workers and you’ll get noticed. Always be looking for problems you can help solve and for ways to expand your knowledge and skills so you can come up with solutions that will improve the organization.

    Try anticipating your boss’s needs: The more astute you become at recognizing and solving your boss’s pain point the sooner you’ll be recognized as star talent. If you’re not sure what the main problems are in your firm, find time to ask your boss and then make a point to find a way to help solve the problem.

    At the end of the day, remember that everything you do ultimately is for yourself. So assuming you like your job and you want to keep it, do whatever it takes to get known as a valuable team player.  You’ll soon become someone who everyone recognizes as an asset to the firm and who is indispensable.  These are the people who typically get promoted and earn higher salaries. Why not aim your arrows in this direction so you become that person!


    Beth is Founder and President of Get Hired, LLC.  She advises students on how to bridge the gap from school to career.  Beth is the co-author of From Diploma to Dream Job: Five Overlooked Steps to a Successful Career. Her coaching assists students and career changers to successfully match their needs, interests, passions, skills, and personal goals with the needs of a sustainable industry in a sustainable location.  She is a resource for print and online media and offers workshops for University Career Service Departments, Executive Recruiters, Outplacement Services, College Guidance Counselors and College Alumni Associations. See website for more details about Beth’s services www.fromdiploma2dreamjob.com. Beth’s Webinar was sponsored by George Washington University’s Career Services Dept. for their worldwide alumni association: Leverage Your College Diploma. You can follow Beth on twitter @BethKuhel


    Beth Kuhel, M.B.A., C.E.I.P., is a career coach specializing in millennials. She writes about career strategies and improving the workplace for The Huffington Post, The Personal Branding blog, TinyPulse.com and Sharkpreneur magazine, and has been featured in Entrepreneur Magazine, U.S. News & World Report and BusinessInsider.com. Her weekly career column is sponsored by Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University. Connect with Beth on Twitter @BethKuhel or bethkuhel@fromdiploma2dreamjob.com, fromdiploma2dreamjob.com

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    2 comments on “Your Job Description Is Your Baseline: Try Exceeding It!
    1. avatar

      Thanks for this great article, Beth! Nearly all of your ideas align very closely with my approach, so it’s difficult for me to tell you that I strongly disagree with one of them. Of course, this changes based on your employer’s culture (and who your boss is), but the idea that the best employees are ones who keep their “backsides in seats” the longest is from the previous generation. If you are doing a good job of proving your value, you can do it without sacrificing your personal time. I hope that makes sense to you!

      • avatar
        Beth Kuhel says:

        Thanks for your comment Laurel. I think in today’s challenging economy employees who are eager to help solve problems and do it faster and better than their co-workers will have a better chance at getting promoted and will be more likely to keep their jobs.

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