Companies hire you because they think you have skills to do a job. Clients want to work with you because they think you have something to add to their business.
You face competition from millions of other people around the world. People in India that you’ve never met.
And machines. If your job requires a repetitive task then it is likely to be automated by an algorithm in the near future.
Now more than ever you are faced with a very important question.
What value are you adding?
It might seem painfully cliche or overused. It is.
But it’s important.
Fortunately, it’s very simple. Companies really just want to know how you are going to help them. It comes down to two things
- Can you make the company money?
- Can you save the company money?
Really, that’s it.
Often if you are in a job you have tasks and are performing actions that ultimately add to the growth of a company.
If you can understand and articulate how you did this, then it means that you have a commercial understanding of the business.
And while some companies truly love to see people grow and flourish, and make a fun environment that provides meaningful work — people are ultimately expendable.
People are ultimately expendable to them unless they are solving a problem. The more valuable you are the less expendable you are.
That’s linked to making or saving money. That is how they define value.
If you are a CFO, you could be saving the company millions through your corporate structuring and astute tax savings methods. If you are a great salesperson, you could be making the company millions in revenue and fueling the growth.
Money the company can use to hire more people and build more stuff.
You might understand this conceptually but the biggest challenge for many people is linking their tasks and actions to a monetary result.
Often they aren’t given that information or are not incentivized to think about it — at least not until they are in more senior or in entrepreneurial roles. Even if “money” is not part of your specific result, it could very well be part of the impact. Quantify it.
Let’s take an example:
John is doing data entry as an executive assistant for the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. He writes up reports, does online research, and books meetings for the CEO. In an interview with a potential employer, John gives a STAR story and describes how he created a more efficient schedule and task management system for the CEO.
But he doesn’t stop there.
With the new task management and scheduling system I developed for the CEO, I was able to save him a significant amount of time and added an extra 4 hours per week to his calendar. While this number may not seem large at first, this has freed up his time to be more involved in hands-on strategy across different departments. Within three months of introducing the new system, the CEO was able to focus his effort on a new product launch that was behind schedule, which ultimately launched on time and became one of our top selling products for the year.
John was able to free up time for the CEO, whose time is clearly valuable. We know that his time is valuable but John makes a point to explicitly state how valuable it was. There was a big product launch and the free time allowed for him to work on this, which he did, and then launched in on time.
The company is selling stuff and making money. John’s hard work has helped the company make money by saving the CEO time.
We can see that it’s a pretty powerful result from John.
Now, be careful not to take a huge leap without substantiation. It would be a stretch for John to say “I’d like to think that my scheduling system resulted in millions of dollars worth of revenue for the company.”
Correlation does not equal causation.
And this sounds a bit like an inflated ego and while it’s good to take ownership for your work, unless you have hard proof then it’s best not to take it that far. Maybe the CEO would have found time to do it anyways…he probably would have.
The greater point is that John can attach meaning to what he did. Why it was important and the impact it had.
He didn’t just “make a system and save time,” but he did it and could articulate what the CEO was doing with that time, which was ultimately beneficial for the company.
So, the million dollar question is, how are you saving/making your company money?