In a fast-moving, competitive professional culture, most of us are trying to find ways to become indispensable. I hear over and over from employed professionals and job seekers alike that they most desire job security.
But being indispensable isn’t worth it if you hate your job in the process! Several people who do in fact have job security have recently called me, complaining, “I’ve got plenty of work to do – in fact, I’m often the person others turn to when a project needs saving. The problem is that it’s keeping me from moving up in the organization! My boss doesn’t want to lose me in my current role, and it’s holding me up!”
So the question becomes: How do you become great at your job while not limiting your potential for growth?
- Define what you want. Too often I had employees come into my HR office and complain that they were not growing in their career. But when I would ask them what they wanted, they weren’t sure or were unrealistic. Research career options you can realistically achieve within an organization and look for ways to identify mentors. They will help you identify what skills, knowledge, aptitudes or talents are essential for the role you are exploring. By honing these skills, you will be able to establish job security (by going above and beyond your current responsibilities) AND prove that you’re ready for the next level.
- Arrange for a meeting. Meet with your manager to talk about what you want to do and accomplish within the next year or two. This will show your manager that you’re serious about your current job (establishing job security) and give them time to process that you want to grow. Work together to set a goal and then map out steps of action that will take you there. When it’s time to make the transition to another role, it will be less painful for your manager. Just keep in mind that even if you get prepared for a new role within a year or two and you are ready to go, your manager may not have the position to offer you. So maintain an open dialogue on what’s happening within the organization with your manager so that when the time is right, they’ll be ready to pull the trigger.
- Showcase your commitment. Be willing to put in some extra hours on the job – but not just on your current responsibilities. Think about your future. Consider opportunities to get certifications or specific training after hours to prepare you for up-and-coming opportunities. Many organizations even have tuition reimbursement plans for continued education.
There is something to be said about feeling needed on the job – but sometimes it comes with a price. But you can still move forward in your career while establishing job security. Know what you want to do. Set realistic goals with your manager. And be committed to doing whatever it takes.