9 ways to make yourself an indispensable employee

I began playing volleyball in fifth grade and then on a travel/club team from 8th to 12th grade. And besides being fun and something I loved to do, it taught me lessons on what it’s like to be an invaluable member of a team.

The rules have changed slightly since I was a kid. But back then, there was a limit to how many player substitutions you were allowed per set. So, my coach encouraged us to be versatile in the positions we could play to make these substitutions easier and more valuable to the team.

In the corporate world, I believe those principles can apply to being a part of a work team too. With unemployment up, and jobs scarce, you want to make sure you make yourself an indispensable employee by bringing value to the company, no matter what you do.

Here’s my list of the top 9 ways to be virtually irreplaceable.

  1. Versatile. Just like on a volleyball team, you need to have the ability to produce and be successful with whatever is asked of you in a work setting. For example, in recruiting, it’s important to have knowledge of different skillsets, the ability to work in various management systems and have your hands in multiple pieces of the company’s operations. A good example of this is by taking on the additional responsibility of being a mentor to newer members of the team.
  2. Flexible/adaptable. This one is very similar to being versatile in your skills. But being versatile in your work methods as well. Being able to roll with the punches and not skip a beat when the environment changes (like when COVID hit). Time is money, so if something is changing with your team’s priorities, you need to be able to move from one task to another efficiently and effectively.
  3. Strong communicator. This means being a good written and verbal communicator. And I believe being a good listener, including active listening, is an imperative part of being a strong communicator. In my role, sometimes I feel like I’m overcommunicating, but with today’s climate, there’s no such thing. Everyone is pulled in so many different directions and has a laundry list of to-dos, so communication is the only way to make sure people are on the same page at all times.
  4. Strong work ethic/initiative. Basically, be an employee who will do whatever it takes to get the job done. Don’t wait to be told what to do. Be proactive and ask what you can do to help if you have the bandwidth.
  5. Dependable. Doing what you say you’re going to do and having follow-through. Don’t make people question whether or not you will do the task assigned to you. When a new job is released by a client that needs to be filled, when I am assigned to it, I want my colleagues and leadership to know I will get it covered without any hesitations.
  6. Coachable/willing to learn. With the way the job market is today, being willing to learn a new skill and/or take feedback to heart is an attractive quality in an employee. The way we work is changing to a more digital landscape and shifting to remote work-from-home settings, so you have to be able to adapt. Sometimes, there’s a learning curve that comes with that. Remember, at the beginning of quarantine, how everyone had to learn how to be a good video call participant? It took some time, but we got there. Just remember, when you’re open to learning, you’re not only adding to your list of marketable skills, you’re increasing your value as an employee.
  7. Team player. Being a team player is more than just helping your colleagues out. It’s knowing your role and being able to deal with multiple personalities and how they work with others. You play an important part in all aspects of your life, such as being a parent, a friend, a spouse, etc. But your role at work may be a bit different. Navigating your role on a team means knowing when to step up and when to take a back seat. If someone on your team is more skilled than you in a specific aspect of a project, it’s important to be a team player by playing a supporting role when necessary. And to recognize that, knowing your strengths and weaknesses is key.
  8. Ability to lead. When people think of leadership, they think of being a manager or simply having a title that labels you as a leader. But it’s more than that – leadership is about having the skills to guide and influence other people, such as leading by example. We have many senior people on our team that are our “unofficial” leaders because others on the team look to them for advice, training, industry knowledge, etc.
  9. Multi-tasker/detail-oriented. When I multitask, I have to document everything and stay organized, because some days, I’m working on multiple jobs at a time and speaking to 20 different candidates. There’s no other way to keep it all straight. I also believe to be a successful multi-tasker, you must be able to stay organized and pay attention to the details. And, if you’re in a sales or recruiter role, the documentation piece is even more crucial as most of us are working within a CRM most of the day.

As a member of a team that collaborates and counts on each other to be successful, I take all of these qualities to heart. I love to be challenged and step up because that’s part of what makes the work I do so rewarding.

I think the late, great Maya Angelou said it best when she said, “You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.”

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