3 Ways to Be Indispensable in Any Job
A business school dean shares how to strategically position yourself for success throughout your career.
How many jobs will you have in your lifetime? If America’s youngest Baby Boomers are any indication, it will be upwards of 10, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics — 11.7 to be exact. And that's before age 50. Gone are the days of womb-to-tomb employment, where you get out of college, get that first job, stay there for decades and then retire. To succeed in such a dynamic and fluid job environment, you have to keep your skills sharp and your knowledge relevant. With these three tips, you can be successful no matter what 11.7 job titles you hold.
While you need the requisite technical skills, what employers really want to see are softer skills. Can you work in teams? Do you know how to build relationships? Are you socially aware? Do you know how to influence and impact others? Can you be persuasive and sell your ideas? In short, can you drive positive change within your organization? As dean, I keep my pulse on the Austin job market. When I talk with CEOs and recruiters, I hear repeatedly that softer skills are in high demand — your abilities in these areas can really make or break your career.
Thanks to technology and globalization, the modern workplace — and the expertise necessary to succeed in it — is in constant flux. It’s crucial to keep learning. If your field has changed dramatically since you earned your degree, refresh your skills. If you’re looking for purpose and meaning in your career, don’t be afraid to change course entirely. Through professional development, new certifications or a graduate degree, seek out opportunities to do a job that fits with who you are and how you want to impact your world.
One of the great things about continuing your education is that you will meet a group of people who have different skill sets and great connections in the market. You’ll create a new network. Nurture those relationships. Build social equity. Be open to opportunities that apply your education, knowledge and skills. Find the gap where you are needed and can add value — and explicitly communicate why you are the most qualified person to fill it.
Nancy Schreiber is dean of The Bill Munday School of Business at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas. She has a doctorate in Clinical Psychology, is a member of the American Psychological Association and the Society for Human Resource Professionals, and is a licensed psychologist in the state of Texas.