Not since late 1982, when United States unemployment reached 10.82 percent, has the number of jobless hit such highs as in today’s “Great Recession.”
By November 2009, the American unemployment rate had risen to 10 percent, representing 15.4 million out of work—a little more than double the percentage from December 2007. For three straight months, the U.S. witnessed 135,000 job losses per month.
For those still employed, the future looks shaky. Many ask, “Will I have a job in six months?”
For others out of work, life has changed. Having worked at their occupations for years, long-time employees now find themselves lining up for unemployment benefits. As the weeks pass by, their benefits run out. And as money grows tight, the fear of losing homes, cars and other possessions becomes reality.
As a byproduct of this economic downturn, companies are learning to be more productive with fewer employees, a trend that is likely to continue. In such times, what can you do to increase the possibility of staying employed or gaining reemployment?
Though no job is entirely recession-proof, and at times there may be nothing you could have done to prevent a job loss, there are certain qualities that a person must have that lessen the possibility of being “let go”—especially when an employer is forced to make job cuts. The one who is most valuable to his employer stands the greatest chance of staying in his position.
Managers and companies desire certain key qualities in their workers. By knowing, practicing and incorporating them into your thinking, you will dramatically increase your worth to current and future employers.
Character is the virtue of knowing right from wrong, turning from the wrong and doing what is right, even in the face of pressures and temptations. It is being honest and upright in everything you do. Sadly, good character is rapidly disappearing. Even the most cursory look at society makes this plain.
Put yourself in the place of an employer. As an employee, you represent a company. How you conduct and present yourself, interact with customers and fellow employees, and the quality of your work, reflects directly on it. If you had to choose between an employee who was upstanding, trustworthy, honest and truthful in his dealings with others, one who goes above and beyond, and does excellent work—and one who lacks these qualities—which would you keep on the payroll?
The answer is obvious.
Many years ago, I heard an instructor advise his students to “always increase the value of the real-estate.” He was not talking about land, property homes or buildings, but about the value of each individual as an employee.
As with a house when it is remodeled, its value and worth increases. So too will your value to an employer as you improve and upgrade yourself. This can be done in a variety of ways.
For example, the automotive technician who can repair anything on a car from bumper to bumper has more value than one who can do only routine maintenance tasks. Likewise, the carpenter who can not only do rough framing, but also siding and roofing, and install windows and doors, stands a better chance of holding on to his job when others with only one specialization are laid off.
The more you can do, the greater value you have to an employer, and the more job opportunities that will be open to you.
Nothing aggravates an employer more than a worker who does not carry out instructions. As a result, a company misses crucial deadlines, makes mistakes and produces faulty products, which result in unhappy customers. All of this because the worker either did not pay attention to instructions or did not care enough to carry them out.
You can avoid misunderstandings and miscommunications by simply applying the basic biblical instruction, “Let every man be swift to hear, [and] slow to speak” (Jms. 1:19). Human nature tends to immediately speak and react, rather than patiently listen first.
Rare is the person who waits and listens, then carries out directives. But you can eliminate mistakes and prevent accidents by listening to instructions. It also shows respect for your superior, which will not go unnoticed. Your manager will see that you patiently listen without interrupting, which will assure him that you take your duties seriously and can handle further responsibility.
On the job, individuals with positive attitudes are usually well-liked by their co-workers, who find them easy to get along with. Why? No one wants to be around someone who is unhappy. Pessimism and negativity breed more of the same.
Cheerful attitudes are “contagious.” They have a positive effect on the workplace.
Similar to everyday life, things can go wrong at work. Problems need solutions. Employers want workers who are able to identify problems and devise and implement solutions.
Consider. The purpose of every profession is to solve some type of problem. Wages offered in any industry are generally proportional to the degree of difficulty and complexity of the problems that employees must solve on a daily basis. The more problems you solve—large or small—the more valuable you will be to your employer.
Sadly, a common attitude that pervades today’s workforce is that people feel they are “above” a given task, and feel the need to voice their complaints. They fail to consider that if those tasks did not exist, they would not have a job!
Realize that in today’s employment climate, the “squeaky wheel” gets replaced. Instead, be the wheel that quietly and efficiently carries its load day after day.
Have the type of positive attitude about whatever you do spoken of by Martin Luther King, Jr.: “If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry” (The Seattle Times).
He continued that you should work in such a manner so that people can say, “Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well” (ibid.).
In the past, craftsmen used to take great pride in their work, pouring hours into everything they did.
Now, many employees barely do enough to earn a paycheck, which is reflected in the lack of quality in the goods and services produced today.
If you want to become a more valuable employee, understand your particular job responsibilities and attempt to go above and beyond what is required.
The more care you put into every detail of what you do, the more your manager will be able to focus his attention elsewhere. He will know he can depend on you to “get the job done,” which provides him peace of mind.
Realize that your job duties affect others. Your mistakes can cause more work for them. Understand that you can make your coworkers’ jobs more or less difficult.
When things go wrong, most people blame others. Yet a responsible employee is not afraid to admit his mistakes. An employer appreciates such honesty.
There are two types of employees—those who wait to be told what to do and those who take initiative in finding innovative ways to be productive for the benefit of their employer. Managers notice a self-motivated worker and will seek him out for advancement.
There is an old saying: “If you want it done, give it to a busy person.” Those who productively use their time are more likely to be given increased responsibility, even a promotion.
Often, employers face workers who repeatedly arrive late, call in sick or do not show up at all. When a worker fails to show, the impact is felt companywide. Others must pick up the slack.
By your actions, show people that you can keep commitments. A dependably productive worker stays on the payroll.
Always strive to perform any given task with excellence.
Give your employer a full day’s work for the full day’s pay he is giving you.
In other words, “Whatsoever your hand finds to do, do it with your might” (Ecc. 9:10).
Soon you will be known as one who exercises diligence in whatever you do.
A good employee is one who stays on track. He does not allow modern technology, such as the Internet or his cellphone to distract him. He focuses his attention on his work.
A valuable employee does not waste his employer’s time and money.
Instead, while at work, he works!
A valuable employee shows his dedication by consistently exceeding his employers expectations and willingly taking on any task. If your motto is “that’s not my job,” then you may soon find yourself out of a job!
Notice what Jesus Christ said in the Bible about profitable servants: “But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird yourself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward you shall eat and drink? Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do” (Luke 17:7-10).
Be a worker who does more than is expected, not just the bare minimum.
There are seven laws of success, which every person, regardless of his or her position in life, should employ. They are: set the right goal, get an education, maintain good health, be driven, employ resourcefulness, persevere, and, most important, stay in close contact with God and seek His guidance.
David C. Pack’s booklet The Laws to Success provides insight into these often-overlooked laws. This publication clearly explains the keys to true and lasting success in all areas of life. If you want to be a more valuable employee, and a more effective person, be sure to read this booklet.
This article has shown some of the hallmarks of a valuable employee. By systematically and consistently applying these principles, you will increase your value in the job market and provide yourself greater job security in the future.