Whether we are starting on a new job or have been in the same job for years, it is always essential to know what I like to call our professional value.
In other words, professional value is defined by how competitive we are or how much people are willing to do (or pay) to make us part of their company, academic institution, or research group.
Our professional value is not a number, so it doesn’t express an amount or quantity. It is more like a description of how “fit” we are to fulfill the needs of the professional market we are part of. Although keeping ourselves updated in terms of skills and techniques is essential to have a higher professional value, it is not the only thing we can do.
Knowing our professional value must go hand-in-hand with knowing the market we are part of. In other words, what are companies or universities looking for? Knowing this information is essential for our professional growth, and in situations where job stability is not great, it could be the difference between transitioning to a better job or becoming unemployed.
Knowing what people are looking for and whether we have it or not will let us know if it is time to diversify or update our set of skills. When we know what the professional market looks like, we can acquire new skills, update the ones we have or even get more experience in one specific area. Doing this will not only make us more competitive, but also more valuable.
Knowing our professional value is also a great tool to negotiate a promotion or even more benefits at our current job. It can be a way of showing that we have a specific set of skills and qualifications that can be recognized by others and that if someone wants to keep us they need to compensate us accordingly. Of course, this HAS to be done in a very specific way otherwise it can work against you, but that is a topic for another blog.
So, what can you do if you want to know your professional value? Here are just some ideas:
1. The best way of knowing your professional value is to know what the market needs. Use social media to keep track of the market, what the hottest jobs are, and also the qualifications they require.
2. Always keep your network growing. The more people you know, the better the chances they will make you aware of new opportunities. If you can network with recruiters, that is a big plus!
3. Make sure you have an updated professional profile available online. If you want to know your value, you need to market yourself.
4. People need to know what you have to offer, so make yourself noticeable. Have a constant online presence. Volunteer to give a seminar or to be a journal reviewer or a lecturer at a colleague’s class.
5. Once or twice a year, apply to a job you might be interested in even if you are not currently looking to change jobs. If you don’t get the job, try to find out why and use it to improve yourself as a candidate the next time.
6. Do not isolate yourself. Go to seminars, professional meetings or even professional social gatherings. You will get great information on the market in terms of opportunities and what they are looking for.
In my experience, information gives us power. We all know that the job market today is not strong or even stable, so the more we know about it, the better we can navigate through it. Do not settle down even if you have a steady job. Keep yourself competitive and make sure that your professional value is always as high as it can be because an exciting opportunity might be just around the corner. Good Luck!