What Value Do You Bring to the Bottom Line?
February 2003 Say you are up for a promotion or trying to land that new job. During your meeting with your boss or prospective employer you are asked a very pointed question: "What value can (do) you bring to this organization?" How would you respond?
Such a question can be disconcerting if you have never actually thought about it before. But all of us, no matter where we are in our careers, should be thinking about how to answer an inquiry like this.
In an age where companies are continuing to cut costs and are looking for more efficient ways to run their operations, knowing the value that each employee brings to the organization is just smart business.
The more prosperous days we experienced in the 1990s are gone. An accounting or finance department that once readily hired new staff, now must carefully examine head count in order to run the most efficient operations possible. And rightly so. After all, the focus is where it should be in an economy that is as uncertain as a weekly weather forecast -- the "bottom line".
Accounting and finance professionals can understand and appreciate this kind of thought process, probably more than most of us. But when the focus shifts from tangible assets to "human" capital, the determination is not always so cut and dry.
Let's face it, we all like to believe that we are important to the company that employs us. But, how many of us have ever had to measure our usefulness? Well, if there ever was a time for you as a professional to demonstrate your worth, it is now. So let's talk about how you could go about doing this.
The Importance of Record Retention
We all understand the importance of keeping good records, right? After all, you file away important documents every day and may not think twice about it. For instance, you keep your income tax information year after year, just in case the IRS decides to perform an audit.
You probably also know where to find the appraisal for your home or information about the line of equity you just received to consolidate your bills. You know where this important information is because you keep it safely tucked away for future reference.
Well, your career records are just as important and should be treated with equal care. A small percentage of us are quite meticulous and can easily provide quantitative accomplishments spanning our entire career. However, the large majority of us put little emphasis on tracking our success and few can show tangible evidence of past achievements. Unfortunately, this lack of recordkeeping can affect whether you get a promotion or land that desired job. So what records do you need to keep?
Most of you probably keep some form of resume on file, just in case you are in the job market again, or see an opportunity to advance your career. But in today's cost-conscious environment, a resume is not enough. What employers want to see goes beyond your skill sets and your formal education. They want to know that you have something more to offer, something that is going to provide a return on their investment. One way you can help demonstrate your value is by developing a career portfolio.
All too often professionals arrive at an interview or review meeting with nothing in hand. This can really limit your ability to fully communicate your value to the manager or potential employer. Always be prepared with a portfolio that not only demonstrates your prior accomplishments, but also highlights those areas specific to the position you seek.
Developing and Maintaining Your Career Portfolio
Brenda George, a recruiter in the Acsys Tampa office, recommends the following as excellent inclusions for your collection:
There are certainly more things you could do to demonstrate your value to a current or potential employer, but hopefully those listed above will get you headed in the right direction. No one can promise you job security. But, if you can show your real value to a company, your chances of obtaining and/or retaining your desired position are much better.
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Acsys Inc. is a provider of professional staffing to the accounting and finance industry. Specializing in entry-level to executive placement, Acsys offers both interim and long-term solutions to Fortune 500, middle-market and emerging growth companies. Acsys' Professional Crossroads column, produced by career counseling experts, aims to assist accounting and finance professionals with critical career decisions. If you have a topic related to career transitions that you'd like Acsys to address, let us know at email@example.com.