In the current economy, every worker is looking for a leg up on the competition. But knowing how to advance your career or simply prove your value to your employer can be difficult. Consider the following six tips to position yourself for success in any economy, particularly an uncertain one like today's:
1. Be open to change
A common reaction when many aspects of your life are in flux is to cling to your usual ways of doing things. But uncertain times call for individuals who can adapt to new ways of working. Adopt an open-minded approach and remain enthusiastic even when there are shifts in organizational structure, procedures or workload.
2. Look for new opportunities
Keep in mind that changes to your organization or role aren't simply something to cope with; they could bring new opportunities. If the size of department has decreased in recent months, for example, you may be asked to shoulder new responsibilities, which, down the road, could position you well for advancement.
3. Don't overdo it
Even in tough times, it's important to establish boundaries. It's never a bad idea to volunteer for projects that allow you to build new skills and experience, especially if your team is short-staffed. But taking on too much can lead to burnout and lackluster work. If you feel overwhelmed with the number of projects on your plate, ask your manager to help you prioritize. He or she may be able to work with you to find a solution, whether it's bringing in a temporary worker or delegating some projects to another colleague.
4. Keep a cool head
In the midst of budget cuts or layoffs, it's easy to be so worried about your own situation that you lose focus. While it's natural to be concerned about your job, your colleagues and your company when business is slow, avoid obsessing over "what might happen." It's better to be the steady hand during turbulent times. Pay attention to your company's situation and take action where necessary -- after all, you don't want to bury your head in the sand. Just avoid becoming so consumed with speculation that you fail to do good work
5. Know your skill set's expiration date.
Prove yourself indispensable by staying current with all software and systems used by your company, and make sure your customer service skills shine. Do so not only to maintain your value to your current employer but also to remain marketable if you do find yourself back in the job market. Whether it's refining your communication skills or becoming an expert in a software program relevant to your field, always strive to continue your professional development.
6. Take your blinders off
No matter the state of the economy, keep your eyes open for new opportunities that allow you to advance professionally. You don't want to jump recklessly from one employer to another, but you should be prepared to make a move if the right opening presents itself. Be sure your résumé is up-to-date, and keep in contact with people in your network to get a feel for what opportunities exist in your field.
It's unclear how long the current downturn will last, but the above advice can help you weather the storm. Being proactive and keeping a steady hand when times are turbulent will benefit you now and pave the way for success once conditions improve.
Robert Half International is the world's first and largest specialized staffing firm with a global network of more than 360 offices worldwide. For more information about our professional services, please visit www.rhi.com.
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