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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 April 8, 2019

    22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    Unless you’re infinitely rich or prepared to rack up major debt, you need to budget your income. Setting limits on how much you are willing to spend helps control expenses. But what about your time? Do you budget your time or spend it carelessly?

    Deadlines are the chronological equivalent of a budget. By setting aside a portion of time to complete a task, goal or project in advance you avoid over-spending. Deadlines can be helpful but they can also be a source of frustration if set improperly. Here are some tips for making deadlines work:

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    1. Use Parkinson’s Law – Parkinson’s Law states that tasks expand to fill the time given to them. By setting a strict deadline in advance you can cut off this expansion and focus on what is most important.
    2. Timebox – Set small deadlines of 60-90 minutes to work on a specific task. After the time is up you finish. This cuts procrastinating and forces you to use your time wisely.
    3. 80/20 – The Pareto Principle suggests that 80% of the value is contained in 20% of the input. Apply this rule to projects to focus on that critical 20% first and fill out the other 80% if you still have time.
    4. Project VS Deadline – The more flexible your project, the stricter your deadline. If a task has relatively little flexibility in completion a softer deadline will keep you sane. If the task can grow easily, keep a tight deadline to prevent waste.
    5. Break it Down – Any deadline over one day should be broken down into smaller units. Long deadlines fail to motivate if they aren’t applied to manageable units.
    6. Hofstadter’s Law – Basically this law states that it always takes longer than you think. A rule I’ve heard in software development is to double the time you think you need. Then add six months. Be patient and give yourself ample time for complex projects.
    7. Backwards Planning – Set the deadline first and then decide how you will achieve it. This approach is great when choices are abundant and projects could go on indefinitely.
    8. Prototype – If you are attempting something new, test out smaller versions of a project to help you decide on a final deadline. Write a 10 page e-book before your 300 page novel or try to increase your income by 10% before aiming to double it.
    9. Find the Weak Link – Figure out what could ruin your plans and accomplish it first. Knowing the unknown can help you format your deadlines.
    10. No Robot Deadlines – Robots can work without sleep, relaxation or distractions. You aren’t a robot. Don’t schedule your deadline with the expectation you can work sixteen hour days to complete it. Deathmarches aren’t healthy.
    11. Get Feedback – Get a realistic picture from people working with you. Giving impossible deadlines to contractors or employees will only build resentment.
    12. Continuous Planning – If you use a backwards planning model, you need to constantly be updating plans to fit your deadline. This means making cuts, additions or refinements so the project will fit into the expected timeframe.
    13. Mark Excess Baggage – Identify areas of a task or project that will be ignored if time grows short. What e-mails will you have to delete if it takes too long to empty your inbox? What features will your product lack if you need a rapid finish?
    14. Review – For deadlines over a month long take a weekly review to track your progress. This will help you identify methods you can use to speed up work and help you plan more efficiently for the future.
    15. Find Shortcuts – Almost any task or project has shortcuts you can use to save time. Is there a premade library you can use instead of building your own functions? An autoresponder to answer similar e-mails? An expert you can call to help solve a problem?
    16. Churn then Polish – Set a strict deadline for basic completion and then set a more comfortable deadline to enhance and polish afterwards. Often churning out the basics of a task quickly will require no more polishing afterwards than doing it slowly.
    17. Reminders – Post reminders of your deadlines everywhere. Creating a sense of urgency with your deadlines is necessary to keep them from getting pushed aside by distractions.
    18. Forward Planning – Not mutually exclusive with backwards planning, this involves planning the details of a project out before setting a deadline. Great for achieving clarity about what you are trying to accomplish before making arbitrary time limits.
    19. Set a Timer – Get one that beeps. Somehow the countdown of a timer appears more realistic for a ninety minute timebox than just glancing at your clock.
    20. Write them Down – Any deadline over a few hours needs to be written down. Otherwise it is an inclination not a goal. Having written deadlines makes them more tangible than internal decisions alone.
    21. Cheap/Fast/Good – Ben Casnocha in My Start Up Life mentions that you can have only have two of the three. Pick two of the cheap/fast/good dimensions before starting a project to help you prioritize.
    22. Be Patient – Using a deadline may seem to be the complete opposite of patience. But being patient with inflexible tasks is necessary to focus on their completion. The paradox is that the more patient you are, the more you can focus. The more you can focus the quicker the results will come!

    Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

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