Authored By: Josh Spector
Six ways to make yourself irreplaceable.
Lots of people are good at their job.
But many of those same people ultimately lose their job.
That’s because job security is rooted in more than the quality of your work— it’s dependent on your ability to get people hooked on the work you do.
You have to become irreplaceable to your boss, company, or clients.
Here are six ways to do that…
1. Do unique work.
If your work is the same as everybody else’s, there’s nothing to separate you from others who can do the same job in the same way.
This turns your work into a commodity and allows you to be easily replaced by anybody else capable of doing it.
To counter this, look for unique ways to do your work.
In creative fields, you can separate yourself from others with a unique approach, ideas, and process.
But it’s also possible in non-creative fields.
If you’re an accountant, you may create a unique approach to running reports that’s easier for executives to understand than the industry standard.
If you work in customer service, you may treat customers in a unique way compared to how complaints are typically handled.
The key is to find an element you can bring to your work that’s different (and better) than how others would approach the job to make yourself unique.
This gives your employer, clients, or customers a reason to choose you instead of the alternatives.
2. Act like an employer, not an employee.
Employees do what their boss tells them to do. But employers do what’s best for the business.
To make yourself irreplaceable, think like an employer.
Recognize your job isn’t solely to do what you’re told. It’s also to identify new opportunities, solve problems, and create value for the business as a whole.
This makes you more valuable to everybody (you also earn more respect and opportunities in the process).
Employers and clients can find lots of people to do exactly what they tell them, but it’s significantly harder to find proactive people to tell them what they may not see.
As somebody who works on the front lines, you likely have a perspective your employer or clients don’t — this creates an opportunity for you to identify potential improvements in products, services, and systems which they may miss.
When you surface those opportunities and act on them — like an employer focused on improving the business and not just doing what they’re told — you become infinitely more valuable.
3. Question everything (but not always out loud).
Curious people are valuable.
That’s because curiosity — and a willingness to question assumptions — drives innovation, improvements, and productivity.
The more you question how and why things happen as relate to your work, the more likely you are to improve them.
This doesn’t mean you should necessarily share all of these questions with your boss or clients — that would likely get old quick and do you more harm than good.
But adopting an inquisitive mindset and questioning the so-called “rules,” will turn you into a leader and increase the value of your contributions.
Instead of being just another person who follows the conventional wisdom, you’ll become one who blazes a trail.
And that person is difficult to replace.
4. Develop and use skills beyond your job description.
Nobody’s ever penalized for overdelivering.
Don’t be limited by your job description. Instead, view your job responsibilities as a starting point and look for ways to use your other relevant skills to create more value for your company or clients.
A quick story from the first job I ever had, working for a small entertainment PR agency.
I was hired out of college as an assistant and my responsibilities were basically to be a receptionist — sit at the front desk, answer phones, and send faxes (yeah, I’m old).
There was nothing in my job description that relied on my journalism degree or writing ability, but that didn’t stop me from using those skills.
I made it known I had a writing background and volunteered to write press releases.
Sure enough, I was given a chance to write one, it stood out, and days later I was plucked off the reception desk and assigned to a senior publicist to start writing press releases and tackling assignments slightly more substantial than answering the phones.
If you have skills beyond your job description — and I’m sure you do — actively seek out ways to use them to serve your company or clients.
Doing so will get you noticed and create new opportunities for yourself and the people your work serves.
5. Seek problems as much as you seek solutions.
You don’t have to solve a problem to benefit from it.
It’s just as valuable to identify problems others don’t see and bring them to the attention of your boss or clients — even if you don’t know how to solve them yourself.
Your work puts you in a position to see things your boss or clients likely do not and that creates opportunity.
Look for inefficiencies in systems, flaws in ideas, and things others overlook that you can bring to the attention of key stakeholders.
Doing so will get you noticed, can have a huge impact on the business, and often lead to your involvement in the ultimate solving of the problems.
6. Develop unique assets.
It’s one thing to do unique work, it’s another to bring a unique asset to the job.
One of the best ways to make yourself irreplaceable is to develop assets you can bring to the work that others don’t have.
These assets can include things like your network of relationships, credentials or past experience, or an audience you’ve built (such as the 15,000+ people I’ve attracted through my For The Interested newsletter).
Make a conscious effort to build your own assets — outside of your work — and look for ways those assets can benefit the people your work serves.
If you’re a chef, strong relationships with local farmers could give you an advantage compared to other chefs.
If you’re an author, a large email list will help you sell your book to a publisher.
No matter what kind of work you do, there are assets you can develop to become more valuable to the people who pay you to do it.
BONUS: One easy way to become irreplaceable…
One of the best ways to separate yourself from the pack is to broaden your expertise and deepen your knowledge about how the world work.