It’s not only entrepreneurs who have to think hard about their competition. If you’re a professional woman trying to progress your career path in the workplace, competition is a huge concern for you too.
That’s nothing new, of course. Whether you’re looking for a new job or aiming for promotion in your existing workplace, you know you need to make sure your talents and your potential are seen by the people who make the decisions that affect you.
But this simple truth is amplified many times over by the rising unemployment caused by the global pandemic, and also (for very many of you) by the radical changes to your working arrangements.
You’re in a much busier pool now
Whether you’re job-hunting through necessity right now, or planning to do so soon to make your next career progression, making sure your value stands out is more crucial than ever.
Consider some of the research statistics released in the last couple of weeks. For example, McKinsey reckon that for every open job position, there are 500 people in the jobs market. That’s not to say there are 500 applications for each job, but it does mean the pool of candidates is hundreds of times larger than the total number of vacancies in the UK.
And in LinkedIn’s latest Workforce Confidence Index, one third of the UK’s workforce say they are actively looking for a job right now, and a further third are open to offers from headhunters.
In previous years (and in more prosperous times), I’ve worked with big organisations to help them sharpen up their employee experience so that they could best attract candidates with their pick of plum jobs. We used to call it the war FOR talent.
But now it seems we’re entering a war OF talent. And being able to communicate your value has never been more crucial.
Does visibility affect your job security?
Back on LinkedIn a week or two ago, a bit of a row broke out about visibility. A business coach made a rather bold statement along the lines of this: redundancies are coming down the line in most sectors and if you’re never seen in the office, you’ll probably be first for the chop.
By the time I stopped reading the thread, the post had attracted more than 1,500 comments. Almost all of these (if not all) were violently in disagreement. In fact, it’s fair to say this statement was met with howls of outrage.
Justified outrage in many ways: your work should speak for itself; your boss should judge you on your outputs not your visibility; you shouldn’t have to ‘brown nose’ your boss just to keep your job; how on earth are people even supposed to achieve this when offices are closed or rotating staff anyway?
I couldn’t agree more with all of this. I hope with every fibre of my being that the days of presenteeism…the days of leaving a jacket over the back of your chair to give the impression that you’re working all hours and so on…have been replaced with an age of integrity and authenticity.
Even the most progressive manager may not see what you truly are worth. It’s harder for them to see your value when your usual human interactions are curtailed – and if working-from-home is a recent and Covid-related change, they probably don’t yet have the team systems and processes in place that globally dispersed teams have been developing for years.
And few managers are tasked only with managing their team these days. Most have targets and objectives based on tasks and outputs of their own. With the best will in the world, they may not see what you don’t constructively show them.
For what it’s worth, I don’t agree with the business coach who made that statement on LinkedIn. Hiring and firing decisions must depend on much, much more than how many times your manager sees you in the office.
But there is something extremely important hidden somewhere between the lines of that statement…
Make sure your boss knows and understands not only WHAT you are doing, but also how you are adding VALUE. Make sure they can confidently advocate for you, whatever the future holds in your organisation.
Recognition is key to promotion
But what if you’re not job-hunting….does that mean there is less pressure on you to influence your stakeholders?
In all honesty, it depends on what you want to achieve. If you want to progress, do more, get more…then yes, it matters to you too.
There are so many ways in which you might progress in your workplace – promotion, secondment, pay grade progression and so on – but they all rely on other people making decisions that affect you.
And, just like the 1,500 commenters on that LinkedIn statement, you could argue that those people should just KNOW how much value you add and how much potential your offer. (And they might.)
But if you want to take control of your own potential, development and opportunities, you need to make sure the people whose decisions you want to influence can see exactly who and what you are.
Because that’s how you’ll take your rightful place in any future wars of talent. Though it’s not about fighting: it’s simply about communicating your true value, to yourself and to others, so that you get the results you deserve.
Check back here next week, because our next blog will take a look at some of the practical ways you can do this, to help you get seen and heard – with much more ease, and much more impact.
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Until next time…
Lucy & Emma xx