Build Your Employability Indicators

Translation of the original article published March 1, 2013 on Aptitus Magazine (Perú)

Norton and Kaplan taught us that we cannot manage what we cannot measure.  In the minds of the creators of the Balanced Scorecard, strategic maps and many tools used today by successful companies around the world, it was clear that organizational success requires order, processes and, above all, the ability to set goals that can be quantified to measure our progress.

If this is valid for companies, then why not bring this organizational principle to how we manage our own careers?  Why would determining our human and professional goals and setting time-bound goals for ourselves not be appropriate?  Moreover, why not determine what areas we should strengthen and what we can contribute to the organization so that we ourselves can live a continuous improvement process?

That is what employability is about.  It is the capacity we all have to acquire and update skills, knowledge and a contact network so that we can always be empowered to decide our career path.  It is about being able to keep or improve our job or being able to get a new job that gives us equal or more professional and personal satisfaction than our current job within a given time period.  We are obviously also more employable when the value we bring to our organization is visible, quantifiable and evident.

Our capacity to contribute can be measured in many ways, but in all cases, we must begin by identifying how we contribute.  At LHH DBM PERÚ, we have a very simple method for that, which we call “the white door”.  Every day, while exiting our office’s white doors, we must ask ourselves: What value did I add today, what did I do to contribute, what did I do today to earn my salary?  For us at LHH DBM, that can mean: “I talked to three client companies”, “I closed two contracts to help people be outplaced”, “I helped someone get a new job”, “I prepared an executive for a job interview”, “I helped develop the personal marketing plan for someone committed to raising his/her employability level”.

From the moment that we can answer affirmatively about what we achieved during the day, we can acknowledge ourselves as professionals who contribute value to our company.  That value is the basis for our employability.

Creating Value

What happens if we have trouble finding something of value, or if we feel we have not contributed enough?  Suppose three days have passed without feeling that our presence at the company has created value.  That, I’m sorry to say, is the moment when we most probably have started to be out of a job.  And we are “self-dismissing” ourselves without realizing it, because firstly, we have stopped fulfilling our part of the contract with the company paying us and, above all, we are not being as good as we can be as professionals in a market that is increasingly demanding and careful about hiring their executives.

We all know this, but it is always good to remember that, though a large number of companies have indefinite term contracts, every six to twelve months management evaluates how goals are being met and, at the same time, the job and performance results of their executives.  Performance evaluations determine which of them are employable and which no longer are.  Promotions lists, as well as dismissal lists, are made in this way.

Many companies have performance, results, potential and competency measurement indicators.  Far from considering these measurements to be a nuisance, we should consider them to be the best diagnosis to determine how we are positioned.  Imagine that they are an early diagnosis of a disease: If we pay attention to these indicators, we can identify the disease at an early stage and work to prevent or cure the disease.  We are fortunate if we are in a company who stays alert to our performance, warning us if there are issues and helping us to turn the rudder in time.

Unfortunately, few companies have measurement systems that are structured enough to offer career projections for their teams.  Most companies only work with key positions in their value chain.  If you are in one of those groups, congratulations, because the company is providing you with a highly valuable measurement tool for your career.  But if you are not, it is time for you to take the initiative and build your own indicators.

How do we do that?  The first thing to do would be to ask our supervisor or supervisors how they see us, how competitive we are, how much value we add to the company, what are our strong and weak points, whether we meet goals, etc. We can also ask our peers, internal clients, etc.  That will help us form a clear idea, not only of what we actually contribute, but of what others think about those contributions, how they are perceived.

Another way of measuring employability is by watching and keeping abreast of the job market, even though we may not actually be looking for a new job.  This will help us know how much the market values what we do and what value it assigns to our professional services.

We must learn to measure our contribution and set goals that help us grow both as professionals and human beings.  We should not be afraid to evaluate ourselves rigorously and seriously, because on that basis we can improve every day to be employable in an increasingly complex and demanding market.  We should be aware that our employability does not depend so much on the decisions of others, but on our ability to identify our weaknesses and turn them into strengths.

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