In 2014 Mike Rowe, Dirty Jobs host and founder of the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, shared some valuable career advice with a fan via Facebook. The fan was concerned with finding the "right" career, and Rowe gave the sort of advice that anyone can learn from. "Stop looking for the 'right' career, and start looking for a job..." Rowe suggested, "Get yourself hired... [and] become indispensable."
While dropping your search for a fulfilling career just to get "any job" may not be the best advice for every job seeker, Rowe's advice to "become indispensable" is something we should all strive for, as we grow as professionals. Becoming indispensable helps add value to not only your career, but makes you a more attractive candidate for hiring managers searching for top talent.
Here are four ways to become the kind of indispensable, top talent that all employers and hiring managers are looking for:
1. Be the best at what you do
This may sound obvious, but the best way to start being indispensable is to become the best at what you do. Whether you are an aspiring graphic designer, financial advisor or a kindergarten teacher, being at the top of your game will make you stand out from the pack. Focus your efforts on producing top notch work, that goes above and beyond the basic requirements of a job description, to position yourself as an expert in your field.
Whether you're currently working and looking for new opportunities or in the middle of a job search, you have to dedicate time to learning. In order to be the best, take advantage of any professional development opportunities available to you, and continuously build your knowledge using resources like trade journals and industry events. Actively seizing every possible opportunity to improve yourself as a professional makes you a better employee and gives you more opportunities to connect with hiring managers looking for top talent.
2. Develop new, diverse skills
Once you've made yourself a master at your craft, it's time to diversify your skills. Start by finding people in your network or office who may need help, and offer it. Pay close attention to the tasks you are assisting with to learn the basics of skill sets that may be new to you. Additionally, be sure to ask questions along the way to get a deeper understanding of how to apply these new skills in the future. Find opportunities to expand your organizational and professional knowledge that may lead to more responsibilities down the road.
3. Step up
No matter where you work -- or want to work -- situations will arise when something needs to be done, and no one has time to do it. Step up and offer your assistance. Whether it be via unpaid internships or volunteer positions with trade organizations, seek out opportunities to put your knowledge into practice. Yes, it may mean more hours or more responsibility, but it also shows that you are a passionate and capable potential hire.
The more opportunities you take advantage of and the more interest you show in your trade, the more attractive you become to potential employers. Step up to the plate, knock the ball out of the park a few times, and hiring managers will start to notice.
4. Be solution-oriented
How many times have you been in a meeting where someone asks for suggestions, and you hear nothing but crickets? According to a November 2014 Clarizen survey, 46 percent of employees would rather do any unpleasant activity than attend a work meeting. Don't be one of those employees. Part of becoming indispensable is showing your colleagues that you are engaged and can be counted on to provide solutions.
Use your skills and the knowledge you've procured becoming the best at what you do, and diversifying your skills, to anticipate any issues that may arise. Whether it's a work or local trade organization meeting or just an issue brought up at a networking event, be prepared to provide intelligent, insightful solutions.
Don't dwell on the difficulties that a company's interview process poses or the challenges your new volunteer project brings to the table. Instead, attack them head-on and provide actionable suggestions that contribute to solving the problem. This takes a lot of confidence, but the more you speak up and offer insightful solutions, the more indispensable you will become. And the more indispensable you become, the more valuable you become for hiring managers looking to hire top talent.
Becoming indispensable takes time, but it is worth it. Attack every day with the mindset that you are going to go the extra mile, and then go a mile farther than that, to make yourself indispensable to those around you.
How have you made yourself indispensable to the people around you? What activities, organizations or projects have you taken on to add to your experience while you're job searching?
Val Matta is the vice president of business development at CareerShift, a comprehensive job hunting and career management solution for companies, outplacement firms, job seekers and university career centers. Connect with Val and CareerShift on LinkedIn.