“It is your professional responsibility to make decision makers aware of the value you bring to the organization.”
I grew up with the belief that, for the most part, people do the right thing. But having gotten older and (supposedly) wiser and having been immersed in the world of strategic consulting for job seekers the past too many years I have come to the sad realization that we are all little more than a commodity in the eyes of an employer.
That statement alone is not earth shattering. I mean, what took me so long, right?
Another element in this employees-as-commodity discussion that I may also be late-to-the-party about is that the “ideal” job candidate in the US is most often a college degreed, white male, somewhere between 27 and 37 years old.
Now, God bless the 30 year old degreed white male who worked hard to achieve what he has but where does that put the rest of us? How does a female, mature, young, or minority job seeker compete when you aren’t young, white and male? And heaven help any person who happens to lay claim to 2 or more of these criteria or have to defend sexual orientation or—gad!—ink!—as well.
Speaking to Value
OK, so we are, all of us, a commodity. We are worth no more or no less than what someone will pay us for our services. How do you change the conversation if you don’t look like my aforementioned young, white dude and you want the promotion?
Well, you talk about accomplishments. Yes, those things you have done previously that your boss or teacher or co-worker or coach thought were impressive. It makes no difference if you are 26 or 76; it makes no difference if you are gay, inked, female or minority. The gospel truth is that if you can convince someone of your ability to make or save an employer money you can get, and maintain the job, the promotion, win the salary negotiation or defend your position in times of layoff.
You were taught as a child not to boast. I agree. However, ‘informing’ others on a continuing basis of your value to the organization does not qualify as bad behavior. It is necessary. Waiting around for a slap on the back? It will not happen often enough, if ever, to make a difference over the 40 years or so that make up your career.
Take a personal inventory of those things you have done over the course of your career, what you achieved in school, what you accomplished ‘in the trenches’ and provide this information to your employer in a formal document. It may take some time and effort on your part but this isn’t climbing-a mountain-kind of effort.
Do not ever think that just because you share air with your boss, she or he knows exactly what you do. They won’t. Promote yourself!