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Make yourself so invaluable to your company that it would be hard-pressed to get along without you. Volunteer to chair a committee in your professional organization. Be ready, willing, and able to speak at schools, conferences, and charitable events. Get published (or quoted) in newspapers, magazines, and scholarly journals. If you can get regional or national exposure on TV and/or radio, go for it. Even consider hiring your own publicist/image maker. Leave no self-marketing stone unturned.
Know your worth — and work it. In case you hadn’t noticed, job security is virtually a thing of the past. Between January 1995 and December 1997 alone, one in 16 American workers found themselves displaced. That is to say they left or lost their jobs because their place of employment closed down, moved, wasn’t supplying enough work, or eliminated their job function or shift. With the recent merger madness among major corporations and a tight labor market, companies are luring employees with promises of better opportunities. This trend is sure to continue well into the future.
This means you have the power to get the position, compensation, and benefits package you desire. But in order to leverage your worth to your best advantage, you first need to know what it is (see “Worth Your Weight,” February 2000). Thanks to a new census year, you will have all of the newest information available to you to find out how much you should be getting paid for the function you perform. Websites such as www.wetfeet.com and www.salary.com give you immediate access to all of the information you need to negotiate the deal of your dreams.
Once you have this information — and up-to-date skills and a strong work ethic — to support you, use it to your advantage. Make your employer aware of what you are worth in your industry, and use it as leverage to get what you want. If the employer doesn’t want to lose you, they will comply with your request. If they refuse, your research will have presen
ted you with plenty of other avenues to pursue. You’ll never have to take a position you dislike in a company you hate for a salary that you can’t live with — or on — ever again.
Don’t make work your life. When was the last time you worked from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on a regular basis? New ways of working, such as telecommuting, combined with casual dress codes and more relaxed office environments, have effectively blurred the lines between the professional and the personal. According to the 1997 National Study of the Changing Workforce, 55% of companies allowed employees to work from home occasionally, while 33% let staff work off-site on a regular basis. Working with less structure has left many professionals struggling to find the balance between work and personal/family life.
Working to live — not living to work — is the only way to achieve this elusive balance. Yes, your career should provide you with a sense of personal satisfaction. But if you make it your No. 1 priority, you