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The No. 1 Way to Make Yourself Irreplaceable at Work | Fairygodboss
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The No. 1 Way to Make Yourself Irreplaceable in a New Job
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Helen Hanison,
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Congratulations, you got the job! Now, here’s how to make yourself indispensable in it: be relentlessly you.

You were chosen ahead of others for this role. Let yourself benefit from that vote of confidence. Think of being indispensable as bringing value that only you can. Be relentlessly you, and they won’t want to reimagine your role as anyone else’s! Here's how: 

Step 1: Looking back is the first step forward.

Relish this window of time winding down at one corporate home, before starting the next.  Nostalgia is inevitable this close to making changes, and you might be surprised to know that it plays an important role in making yourself indispensable in the new job.  

As you reminisce, let what matters about those memories pop to the surface.  When you think about where you're leaving, what are you grateful for? What have you learned? What matters about these things? How have you played to your strengths? What didn't work and why? What were you most passionate about?  And what have others valued about you? 

It's not always easy to be with the identity-shift triggered when we leave a role, especially if we've been in it for some time and feel like we belong. This kind of reflecting creates a neat ending, but also feeds into your new beginning as evidence about your approach to work — and change — is revealed.

Next, work to clear this job from your mind so you can focus on optimizing your next career step. You don't want 'the old' taking up headspace once you start your exciting new opportunity.  

Be considered as you tie up loose ends. Although your work here is done, the people will remain your connections.  And you never know when you may cross paths again. So do thank a mentor or give advice to a colleague. But don't run hot and give anyone a piece of your mind as you exit! When it’s time to cross the finish line, you will do so with a clear mind.  Refocus your energy. Put those insights to good use as you shape the way to become indispensable in your new corporate home, both now and in the future.

Step 2: Get a few quick wins. 

Being the newbie brings vulnerability as the warm glow of being chosen translates to an unspoken pressure to perform.  It's inevitable, so accept that feeling and use the energy that's here to seek out ways you can add value. Not because your new colleagues are expecting to see a return on their investment in xx days / weeks (they just want you to settle in quickly and become part of the team), but because quick wins demonstrate something extra.  That extra? Your commitment to understanding the landscape, and creating your unique place in it.  

Here's how to identify what quick wins look like: draw two circles, overlapping like a Venn diagram does. Put the strengths and passion-points revealed in your past role in one circle.  Then, as you identify your new company's priorities, note them in the other circle until both are evenly populated. If that's too broad to grasp, just pay attention to your immediate bosses' / departments' priorities. 

Lastly, look for where your natural competencies and interests intersect with the needs of the business.  These belong in the overlapping section of your diagram and should become the focus for quick wins. It doesn't matter if these ideas feel easy or obvious to you.  Your input is fresh in this new environment and that’s the value you uniquely bring. 

Health Warning: if you're drowning in on-boarding and top priorities aren't becoming clear, do let your inner-leader out and ask for clarity. Just asking the question demonstrates initiative and strategic savvy. Signposting the added-value you are destined to bring. That's a quick win itself!

Step 3: Deliver value where it's needed

Bring good value to every meeting and interaction. Think of these early meetings as sequels to your interview ‘performance’ — opportunities to showcase you, at your best. But when that's hard. 

Here are some Do’s and Do-Not’s for your first few days that will help you deliver value: 

Do:

  • Make connections between what matters and who to. 
  • Be present. And literally be on time.  
  • Stay actively engaged, bringing a 'can-do' attitude. 
  • Be aware you may feel overwhelmed by asks that sound straightforward now. 

Do Not:  

  • Align to any individual before you understand the politics. Just make connections with everyone.
  • Defer to more established colleagues. Have an opinion and be heard (even if you do frame it as a question to be diplomatic).  
  • Raise a problem without proposing a solution.  
  • Over-invest. Demonstrating value doesn't mean sleeping under your desk. Still tempted? What message is sent if at first you work at weekends but change that boundary later?

Remember, your unique contribution and being consciously ‘can-do’ makes you equal indispensable.

Step 4: Focus on the future. 

As much as you can’t imagine this now, there is a dark side to being indispensable — especially if you get stuck in an entry role. So, once you’re settled, build towards a long-term vision. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re not sure what that looks like yet. You will evolve as your skillset develops and experience expands. Be agile. Keep learning. And demonstrating the fresh thinking that sparks.  

When the time is right, people won’t be surprised at your appetite for growth. This brand of career agility being what makes us truly indispensable in our careers – and how we thrive at being who we uniquely are in life.

It's not always easy to articulate your uniqueness yourself. But expressing our core values in what we do is what makes us feel alive and our work feel aligned. If you want some support with this, just click here for a (free) Values Activation exercise I use with clients - designed to guide you to your uniqueness.  

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