Being More Valuable in the Work Place

I am in the midst of a job search. Although I have excellent experience and academic credentials, I am one of the hundreds of thousands of intelligent, articulate and qualified jobseekers in the market today. I am sure I shall eventually find a job, but my job search has taught me that despite my achievements to date, there are still many, many things that I could have done differently in the past to make myself more attractive to employers.

A lot of the deficiencies that I perceive are relatively minor and many of them are shared by a significant percentage of my peers in the job market. Those of us who grew up in the 1970′s and 1980′s learned certain things and had certain e

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7 Responses to Being More Valuable in the Work Place

  1. Carol says:

    I’ve been promoted a few times at my job because I have kept up with my skills in Microsoft software. There are quite a few people where I work who have no idea (and should, especially those who are support staff) how to maneuver around one of those programs without consistent help! I’m known now to be the “expert” in all of the Microsoft programs….

    The one skill I would add to the list is the ability to write in a clear, concise sentence (using correct punctuation, grammar and spelling). Not only does that help you get your point across, you look/sound much more professional when you have a command of the English language. With the advent of texting, people have gotten lazy when emailing peers at work. Not only should you dress for the job you want, you should emulate how your superiors communicate.

  2. Ann says:

    Being proficient in Microsoft products is a must these days. PowerPoint is for everyone, as well as basic Word and Excel, but finance people should also be intimately familiar with the intricacies of Excel — pivot tables, charts, formulas. Additionally, it doesn’t hurt to be familiar with databases.

    I agree with Carol on the ability to organize and write a report. I’m beginning to think it’s almost a lost art to many! When I was young, I worked for a perfectionist who sat down with me and went over word-by-word, sentence-by-sentence, and concept-by-concept a report I’d written. Other people I worked with found it annoying, when he did this with them, but I found it enlightening. Minor changes here and there turned a good report into something extremely tight and clear.

    Speaking proper English is as important as being able to write it, as well as exhibiting the common courtesies that too many people don’t seem to be learning at their parents’ knees. One important lesson I learned along the way was to respect a person’s position, even if you don’t respect the person. Also, swearing like a sailor (which I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve done in the past) does NOT belong in the workplace.

    Keeping current in your field of expertise is important and people should take advantage of it whenever they can. Another area that is equally important is any training available on working with other people — how different types of people learn (some are visual, some audio, some need a hands on walkthru), learning to praise in public and reprimand in private, recognizing when people are feeling insecure about their work and giving them confidence (or as much as you can), how to deal with problem people — bosses and subordinates and coworkers. Through the years, some of the things I learned from being mentored, some from classes but all of it was important… and a lot of it I wished I’d learned earlier!

    Email etiquette is a must! LOL Anyone who’s worked in business for any length of time has probably encountered badly written, unclear emails or accidently done a reply all when they shouldn’t have, etc.

    Being multi-lingual doesn’t hurt, but I have to admit to a negative bias when someone demands that for a corporate job here in the states you have to speak Spanish. If you’re like me, you need to “get over it” and simply think of being proficient in a second or third language as a marketable skill.

  3. bob kuehnel says:

    Dave-

    Great advice. I too am in the same boat an wish I make some changes in the past. Networking is key. Do not be ashamed to be out of work. You never know who may be able to put you in touch with the right person.

    As always great article.

    Bob Kuehnel

  4. These are all very good points. I lost my job three times between 1999 and 2006. All three times were in October. Twice on the exact same date in October. I definetely have kept up with Microsoft Office Suite and that has helped. I also have done additional certifications in my field which is a plus. I haven’t done the foreign languages but probably need to think about that.

    Lillian Dikovitsky

  5. Gail says:

    I wish I had learned younger that it is okay to reach for the stars. Even though a straight A student in school, neither I or my siblings were encouraged to go for training for good, well paying jobs. I’ve heard the expression “You don’t want to do that” from my mother more times than I could ever count!

    Now not working due to disablity, I realize that I had the skills and abilities to do so much more with my working years than I did as I didn’t believe I could do well and get ahead and that it was okay to make money–not just enough to get by, but a lot to have more than enough.

    Encourage your children to want to succeed big time in a career they will enjoy. I realize that money isn’t everything, but just about everyone in my family is just scrapping by and that in retrospect is very sad.

  6. spicoli says:

    It does not matter what we know, there is always more to learn. If you decide that you have learned enough, chances are your boss will recognize that you have no ability to improve at work. That always leads to problems. Bottom line: Keep on learning!

  7. Persephone says:

    My library offers a lot of office skills courses. I have always been meaning to take them but it is never easy to find the time in the middle of the day.

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