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Expertise: Is It Your Ticket To Bigger and Better Things?

Expertise: Is It Your Ticket To Bigger and Better Things?

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    Being an expert isn’t always as beneficial to your career as you might hope: some companies target their expert employees during layoffs in favor of employees still learning the ropes. It isn’t because those employees are necessarily assets — it’s just that they’re cheaper. Either way, though, it makes you question how worthwhile your expertise really is.

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    If you take a look at companies that get rid of their experts, though, they are never better off. Sure, a company can cut its payroll quickly by getting rid of some of its highest paid employees — but there is usually a reason that an employee has earned such a salary. It can take months to get a newer employee up to the performance level of a missing expert, assuming it’s possible at all. At least a few balls will get dropped and it’s likely that a few clients will be disappointed. In the mean time, you can use your expertise as a way to move on to bigger and better things.

    Expertise Opens Doors

    Even during a hiring freeze, many companies will find a way to bring the right expert on to their team. And if business is going well — depending on your field of expertise, you may be able to name your own terms. No matter what industry you work in, you’ll get a better deal over all if you’re an expert. You have to make your abilities work for you, of course: most resumes don’t convey true brilliance any more than they prove that a person really is an expert in a field.

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    Instead, prospective employers — or clients, if you’re ready to take your expertise solo — need to be able to easily find out about your impressive abilities. You can toot your own horn a bit, but it’s better if they find out about just how great you are from parties with less interest in the end result. In an ideal world, running an online search for your expertise would return your name. An employer mentioning that they need an expert in your field would hear your name from all of their friends and colleagues. Everyone would know your name right off the bat.

    Unfortunately, things aren’t quite that simple. In most industries there are thousands of experts and only one or two are known by absolutely everyone involved. It’s only more complicated if a prospective employer isn’t actually involved in your particular field — if, for instance, a company needs IT personnel but actually sells clothing. Name recognition just isn’t going to get the job done.

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    What you need is recognition for your expertise. When someone says your name, they should immediately add “the sales expert” or “the contract expert” or whatever your area of specialty might be. If you can’t be in the top ten search results for your field, your field should be in the top ten results for your name. It may not get you an immediate consulting job or immediately convince a hiring manager, but after a web search or a reference backs up your expertise, you’ll be on your way to that bigger and better thing.

    Getting Recognition For Your Expertise

    Relatively speaking, becoming an expert is easy: you read, you go to classes, you try out new things and so forth. Getting known as the go-to guy or gal, though, is a bit harder. In a sense, you have to advertise your expertise. And while getting known can be a little more complicated than becoming an expert — there are so many ways to go about it — it’s worth doing right.

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    Lately, blogging has been described as a great way to get credit for your expertise — after all, if you write about a topic regularly, you’ll get recognition for knowing your stuff, right? It’s an arguable point. If you put in a lot of time and effort on a blog, you can really show off your expertise. But you have to spend an incredible amount of time on it: the ROI on that kind of work is just not good enough to rely on blogging to establish your expertise. Writing an article for a trade publication will do a better job — the fact that an editor has to agree that you know your stuff can make it a much better indicator of your expertise. The same goes for getting quoted as an expert source in a magazine article, on the nightly news or anywhere you can reach. An added bonus is that you won’t have to work nearly as hard to make sure that a magazine article shows up in the search results for your name as you would to promote your own blog.

    Here are just a handful of ideas that can get you a little recognition as an expert:

    • Respond to requests for information from journalists on HARO
    • Volunteer your expert services for a non-profit
    • Give a talk at a conference — and if you can apply your field to another industry’s conference, go for it!
    • Offer a guest post to a blog
    • Submit an article to a trade magazine
    • Present to local organizations, like the Chamber of Commerce

    All of these options work equally well whether you act as your employer’s expert, you run your own business or you’re looking for a new opportunity to use your expertise. But there are a million more — if you have one to add, let me know in the comments!

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    Last Updated on February 20, 2019

    How to Get Promoted When You Feel Stuck in Your Current Position

    How to Get Promoted When You Feel Stuck in Your Current Position

    Are you stuck in the same position for too long and don’t really know how to get promoted and advance your career?

    Feeling stuck could be caused by a variety of things:

    • Taking a job for the money
    • Staying with an employer that no longer aligns with your values
    • Realizing that you landed yourself in the wrong career
    • Not feeling valued or feeling underutilized
    • Staying in a role too long out of fear
    • Taking a position without a full understanding of the role

    There are many, many other reasons why you may be feeling this way but let’s focus instead on getting unstuck.

    As in – getting promoted.

    So how to get promoted?

    I’m of the opinion that the best way to get promoted is by showing how you add value to your organization.

    Did you make money, save money, improve a process, or some other amazing thing? How else might you demonstrated added value?

    Let’s dive right in how to get promoted when you feel stuck in your current position:

    1. Be a Mentor

    When I supervised students, I used to warm them – tongue in cheek, of course – about getting really good at their job.

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    “Be careful not to get too good at this, or you’ll never get to do anything else?”

    This was my way of pestering them to take on additional challenges or think outside the box, but there is definitely some reality in doing something so well that your manager doesn’t trust anyone else to do it.

    This can get you stuck.

    Jo Miller of Be Leaderly shares this insight on when your boss thinks you’re too valuable in your current job:[1]

    “Think back to a time when you really enjoyed your current role. I bet there was a time when this job was a stretch for you, and you stepped up to the challenge and performed like a rock star. You became known for doing your job so well that you built up some strong “personal brand” equity, and people know you as the go-to-person for this particular job. That’s what we call “a good problem to have”: you did a really good job of building a positive perception about your suitability for the role, but you may have done “too” good of a job!”

    With this in mind, how do you prove to your employer that you can add value by being promoted?

    In Miller’s insight, she talks about building your personal brand and becoming known for doing a particular job well. So how can you link that work with a position or project that will earn you a promotion?

    Consider leveraging your strengths and skills.

    Let’s say that project you do so well is hiring and training new entry level employees. You have to post the job listing, read and review resumes, schedule interviews, making hiring decisions, and create the training schedules. These tasks require skills such as employee relations, onboarding, human resources software, performance management, teamwork, collaboration, customer service, and project management. That’s a serious amount of skills!

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    Is there anyone else on your team who can perform these skills? Try delegating and training some of your staff or colleagues to learn your job. There are a number of reasons why this is a good idea:

    1. Cross-training helps in any situation in the event that there’s an extended illness and the main performer of a certain task is out for a while.
    2. In becoming a mentor to a supervisee or colleague, you empower then to increase their job skills.
    3. You are already beginning to demonstrate that added value to your employer by encouraging your team or peers to learn your job.

    Now that you’ve trained others to do that work for which you have been so valued, you can see about re-requesting that promotion. Be ready to explain how you have saved the company money, encouraged employees to increase their skills, or reinvented that project of yours.

    2. Work on Your Mindset

    Another reason you may feel stuck in a position is well explained by Ashley Stahl in her Forbes article. Shahl talks about mindset, and says:[2]

    “If you feel stuck at a job you used to love, it’s normally you–not the job–who needs to change. The position you got hired for is probably the exact same one you have now. But if you start to dread the work routine, you’re going to focus on the negatives.”

    In this situation, you should pursue a conversation with your supervisor and share your thoughts and feelings. You can probably get some advice on how to rediscover the aspects of that job you enjoyed, and negotiate either some additional duties or a chance to move up.

    Don’t express frustration. Express a desire for more.

    Share with your supervisor that you want to be challenged and you want to move up. You are seeking more responsibility in order to continue moving the company forward. Focus on how you can do that with the skills you have and will develop with some additional projects and coaching.

    3. Improve Your Soft Skills

    When was the last time you put focus and effort into upping your game with those soft skills? I’m talking about those seemingly intangible things that make you the experienced professional in your specific job skills:

    An article on Levo.com suggests that more than 60 percent of employers look at soft skills when making a hiring decision.[3]

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    You can bone up on these skills and increase your chances of promotion by taking courses or seminars.

    And you don’t necessarily need to request funding from your supervisor, either. There are dozens of online courses being presented by entrepreneurs and authors about these very subjects. Udemy and Creative Live both feature online courses at very reasonable prices. And some come with completion certificates for your portfolio!

    Another way to improve your soft skills is by connecting with an employee at your organization who has the position you are seeking.

    Express your desire to move up in the organization, and ask to shadow that person or see if you can sit in on some of her meetings. Offer to take that individual out for coffee and ask what her secret is! Take copious notes and then immerse yourself in the learning.

    The key here is not to copy your new mentor (think Jennifer Jason Leigh in “Single White Female.” Just kidding). Rather, you want to observe, learn and then adapt according to your strengths. And don’t forget to thank that person for their time.

    4. Develop Your Strategy

    Do you even know specifically WHY you want to be promoted anyway? Do you see a future at this company? Do you have a one year, five year, or ten year plan? How often do you consider your “why” and insure that it aligns with your “what?”

    Sit down and do an old-fashioned Pro and Con list. Two columns:

    Pro’s on one side, Con’s on the other.

    Write down every positive aspect of your current job and then every negative one. Which list is longer? Are there any themes present?

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    Look at your lists and choose the most exciting Pro’s and the most frustrating Con’s. Do those two Pro’s make the Con’s worth it? If you can’t answer that question with a “yes” then getting promoted at your current organization may not be what you really want.

    The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. –Mark Twain

    Mel Carson writes about this on Goalcast that many other authors and speakers have written about finding your professional purpose.[4]

    Here are some questions to ask yourself:

    • Why is it that you do what you do?
    • What thrills you about your current job role or career?
    • What does a great day look like?
    • What does success look like beyond the paycheck?
    • What does real success feel like for you?
    • How do you want to feel about your impact on the world when you retire?

    These questions would be great to reflect on in a journal or with your supervisor in your next one-on-one meeting. Or, bring it up with one of your Vital Work Friends over coffee.

    See, what you might find is that being stuck is your choice. And you can set yourself on the path of moving up where you are, or moving on to something different.

    Because sometimes the real promotion is finding your life’s purpose. And like Mastercard says, that’s Priceless.

    More Resources About Career Advancement

    Featured photo credit: Razvan Chisu via unsplash.com

    Reference

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