3 Actions That Will Make You A Valuable Employee
Professionals around the globe who are WFH because of the COVID-19 pandemic are facing a variety of unexpected quandaries: Where should you set up your workspace? Will your Wi-Fi support your company’s video conferencing platform of choice? Which pair of sweatpants should you wear today?
In all seriousness, there’s another challenge you should consider: How can you show your boss you’re an MVP and support your co-workers during this unprecedented event? Aside from completing your basic objectives and keeping up with your company’s new normal, you may be struggling to identify ways to provide visible value.
Fortunately, the answer is relatively simple. Adding new skills to your repertoire can help you step up within your organization while setting you up for future career growth. But, with limited mental bandwidth right now, be strategic and choose actions that are sure to grow your personal brand and deliver big returns.
Right now, your company and co-workers might need support in a number of ways. If you’re solo but work with folks who have kids or care for their parents, working a full 40-hour week may not be possible for them. Offer to redistribute the workload and take some tasks off their plates. If you look at it from the company’s perspective, the already fast-changing world of business is undergoing a shift unlike anything it’s seen in recent years, and employees need the flexibility and skills to keep up.
According to data from April 16, more than 20 million Americans have filed for unemployment since mid-March. If your company has been hit by layoffs; has pivoted to a new product, service, or strategy to serve customers; or has simply begun to discuss possible paths forward, it simply doesn’t make sense to sit back, relax, and limit your activity level to what you were hired to do.
It’s time to prove you’re an indispensable employee by acquiring valuable new skills you can use right away. Need some ideas? Start with these three boons to your skill set and résumé.
1. Dive into social media.
For large swaths of the global population, time spent at home is increasing—and time spent on social media is increasing along with it. This is a great opportunity to learn more of the ins and outs of social media marketing to help promote your brand to potential customers using the platforms they already frequent. Employee advocacy, or workers promoting the organizations that employ them, is a social media strategy that can improve a brand’s reputation among customers and talent alike.
Whether you’re starting from scratch or building on some existing social media marketing knowledge, you have resources at your disposal ranging from blogs to guides to certification courses. Use what you learn from these and other resources to start promoting your company on your own social channels. Better yet, team up with leadership to spearhead a companywide employee advocacy strategy.
2. Learn to code.
Coding is another vital piece of the puzzle for many businesses, and now is the perfect time to take a course in a language your company uses. Some tech experts recommend that employees in non-tech roles learn at least the basics of coding because it will help them better collaborate with IT professionals, understand what goes on behind the scenes of their website or product, and optimize their use of tech tools or programs to do high-quality work.
“Learning a programming language can actually rewire your brain, increasing cognitive ability in areas like problem-solving, planning, and pattern recognition,” says Chris Bay, VP of education and technology for LaunchCode. “Also, more and more nonprogrammers know some basic coding, and this trend will only accelerate; these skills are necessary well beyond the technical sphere. If you want to stay competitive in a tech-fueled economy, you need to speak the language.”
3. Pursue a certification.
Do you work in a specialized field? Are you looking to make an impact on your specific department? Then a certification course may be the right place to focus your professional development efforts over the next few weeks or months. Certifications are a middle ground between one-off webinars and full-fledged degree programs. They’re training modules that often include graded exams over the material covered throughout the course.
Choosing to pursue a certification in a subject that your industry needs is a surefire way to prove to your manager that you have what it takes to help out in a crisis and beyond. And according to Glassdoor, role-specific certifications in areas like HR or project management as well as certifications for specific software like Salesforce or HubSpot would be particularly valuable in impressing recruiters as you grow your career.
We are living in historic times, and around the world, professionals are stepping up their game in response. Join their ranks by building your social media skills, learning a new coding language, or getting certified in an area relevant to your role. By taking these steps, you’ll prove your worth at your current organization and show future employers that amid uncertainty, you’re a team player who can thrive under pressure.
William Arruda is the cofounder of CareerBlast and author of Digital YOU: Real Personal Branding in the Virtual Age.
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