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Monday, June 30, 2014

3 rare traits that will make you more valuable in the workplace

By Oscar King

The last few years have been hard for people without jobs. As of November 2009, over 14 million Americans were jobless. In fact, the last time the US had such huge unemployment rate was in 1982. Between the years 2008-2010, millions of Americans went from owning two cars and living comfortably to losing their houses and living on the street.

Ideal employee characteristics
Employers appreciate employees who can think on their feet
Yet, in those turbulent times, there were people who were fortunate enough to switch jobs and even turn down offers. That is still happening today. Do you want to know why these people are so sought after? It’s simple, really.

These employees made themselves indispensable to their organizations. It wasn’t about getting certifications or some extra degrees. It was about their work ethic, what they brought to the table and how they went about their business. These people had a rare skill set that made them almost impervious to the economic downturn. Do you want to know what those skill sets and traits are?

A knack for problem solving

Let me ask you a quick question: if you were an employer of labor, who would you employ? The overqualified, Ivy League graduate, or someone with a reputation for fixing problems, getting solutions, and getting the job done? Would you choose a well-educated Wharton MBA graduate over an extremely resourceful University of Minnesota graduate with a track record of providing stellar results?

For most employers it’ll be the latter in both cases. Why is that? Because you know that the guy can and will always deliver unique out-of-the-box solutions to whatever problems you have. The truth is there are very few employees like this, and because of this, they are easily noticed.

If you want to be more valuable and indispensable to your organization, you need to become that guy. Learn how to solve your company’s unique problems. If your assembly line is slow, find ways to hasten it without compromising the quality of the products or putting the machine workers in danger. If your company suffers from logistical problems, find a way to fix that or look for someone with the experience to do so. Bottom line, be the guy who solves problems.

Self-starter skills

Most people need somebody to tell them what to do, how to do it and when to do it. If you were an employer, would you consider those people assets to your firm? Self-starters are rare, but are in very high demand in most organizations. Companies want people they can give a few ideas to and they’ll run with it and make something useful and inspiring out of the ideas.

So, you need to teach yourself to not wait for your boss to tell or show you everything. This is called taking initiative. Pre-empt your boss’s needs and complement his weaknesses. Instead of talking about him behind his back like most workers do, find ways to enhance his performance and make him look good. Do this and before long, you’ll rise to the top of the career ladder.

Ability to innovate

Can you take an already jaded or popular idea and make it better so the market place accepts and craves it? This exactly what an innovator does. He takes an already working solution and finds ways to enhance and improve it to produce even better results in possibly less time.

An innovator is always looking for room for improvement. When people hear others say, “If it’s not broke don’t fix it,” they are talking to average individuals. Be better than average. Be something more. Become an innovator. Think up ways to solve people’s problems, drive your company’s growth… whatever is necessary to give your firm an edge, do it.

Whilst this list is by no means complete, it’ll at least give you an idea of what you need to do and where to start.

About the author: Oscar King is a career counselor at UCF helping graduate and undergraduate students find and keep jobs. Another tip he often provides his students is to find an online fax service to better communicate with prospective employers, and always refers them to http://www.findafax.com in their search.

Image: Bpsusf,  CC BY 2.0