Increasing your worth in the job market means having a strategy, experts say. Here are five routes to get there.
- Be a business of one. Mindset is critical, said J.T. O’Donnell, founder and president of Careerealism.com, who urges workers to stop thinking as if they are employees working for employers, and to instead think of themselves as “businesses of one” serving clients. As a business of one, you know the additional value you bring to a company and develop a plan for making or saving the company money, explained O’Donnell, who’s based in the Boston area. This demonstrates that you understand what it takes to run the business and you’re not just seeking a raise.
- Continue your education. Whether it’s a master’s degree or a certification, more education can mean more money. Cheryl Palmer, president of Call to Career, said certifications are becoming more common in many fields, from finance to human resources. Likewise, advanced degrees are more frequently prerequisites for management positions than they were in years gone by. Palmer said she sees many job listings that specify a master’s degree is “preferred.” Consider that a call to action, she said: “I advise my clients, when you look at vacancy announcements and you see something ‘preferred,’ that’s what you should work on. Because if it’s preferred today, tomorrow it will be required.”
- Pick up a part-time gig. Take on work related to your career — or unrelated, said Roy Cohen, a New York career coach and author of “The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide.” For example, if you work in publishing, ask your employer for permission to freelance for other clients, he said. Or pursue something unrelated to your full-time job. Cohen noted that his barber supplements his income by working as a breakfast waiter at a hotel restaurant, and then darts off to the barber shop for a full day of work. Hobbies or interests such as gardening, real estate, travel or fitness can lead to side jobs at nurseries, as real-estate or travel agents, or at local gyms.
- Look up. Examine the job description for the position ahead of yours, and make sure you have what it takes to perform that job, explained Alexandra Levit, a business/workplace author and speaker based in the Chicago area. Note the skills and contributions required of that position, and fill in the missing gaps in your experience, she says. You may have to go outside your organization to get such experience, according to Levit, by volunteering or joining a board, where you can take the lead on projects or initiatives. “Get yourself at a point where you can do the job of the person at the next level so it’s a no-brainer … that you are qualified to do it,” Levit said.
- Find and mind a mentor. Cohen suggested identifying a mentor who can help you understand how you’re viewed within the company. This relationship could give you an edge in presenting yourself more effectively and ultimately increasing your earning power. “I would pick someone outside of (your) department who has history in the organization and who seems very calm — who has been there, done that, and is at a senior-enough level to have a more global perspective on events, initiatives and people,” he explained.