If you have a strong work ethic, chances are you are driven to constantly do the best job possible.
Whether you’re working in the mailroom or working a six-figure job at a multi-million-dollar company, you give 100% every day.
No matter what position you’re in, being the absolute best you can be can only lead to good things, right?
Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Throughout history, workers have found themselves in the position of being so valuable to an organization that they lose out on opportunities to advance.
If you’ve been waiting for years for that opportunity that never seems to come, you may be stuck in a rut with no visible way out.
Are You Indispensable?
Are you that person who your boss calls his right-hand man (or woman)? If you take a vacation, do certain business operations have to temporarily be put on hold until your return? When you do come back, do co-workers report that they’re so glad to see you because your boss has been a basket case since you left?
All of these are signs you’re indispensable. The truth is, however, that you’d likely be indispensable no matter where you worked. The dedication and accountability you put into every task probably doesn’t have all that much to do with the job you’ve been assigned.
This is especially true if you take each position and make it your own, giving 110 percent every day. Unfortunately, this also means that the work you do may become an essential part of day-to-day operations for your business.
Don’t Be a One-Man Shop
Don’t be that employee who holds onto knowledge about specific work duties and doesn’t share it with anyone else. It may feel as though your job will be more secure if you do that.
However, this approach can actually hurt your career in that it may trap you in a job for years. If the mere thought of going on vacation has you imagining things falling apart without you, you should take a look at your approach to your job.
Instead of being the only person who does what you do, look around and see if you can show someone else. Write out step-by-step instructions and have a trusted co-worker fill in for you when you’re out. In exchange, offer to learn your co-worker’s duties so that you can return the favor during vacations and sick days. This cross-training approach will benefit you, as well as the company overall, since you’ll each have a backup for your vital duties.
Prepare to Leave if Necessary
Unfortunately, despite your best efforts, you’ll sometimes find that you have to leave in order to move up in your career. I’ve had to do this multiple times. You can take your years of experience and incorporate them into a solid resume that impresses a potential new boss and helps you get a higher salary or a better title at another company.
Remember, you’re “shiny” and brand new to this potential employer. He or she doesn’t see you as that indispensable support employee or entry-level staff member. Instead, you’ll be able to make a fresh start in an organization where there are no preconceived notions about you.
Be prepared that if you do find that new job and give notice, your employer might be ready to step up and offer you a raise. You may even find that the great position you’re taking elsewhere can also be duplicated where you are. This decision to stay or go is up to you but remember that if you weren’t respected enough to be promoted in the first place, you’ll likely be better off in an organization that again, doesn’t have an already-formed opinion about you.
Being good at your job can be a liability but if you begin preparing for the position you really want early on, you’ll better your chances at moving up. Be aware that sometimes you may have to jump to another company altogether in order to find the career opportunities you’re seeking.
Author: John Boitnott
John Boitnott is a journalist and digital consultant who has worked at TV, newspapers, radio and internet companies in the U.S. for 20 years. He’s an advisor at StartupGrind and has written for NBC, Fast Company, Inc. Magazine, Entrepreneur, USAToday, and VentureBeat, among others.