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Establishing your value as an employee or freelancer is vital in these tough economic times. Business coach Shilpa Panchmatia shares the six skills that’ll pandemic proof your career
Whether you’re self-employed or an employee this year is one hair-raising ride. Apart from off-the-scale redundancies, a million people in the UK are planning to give up being self-employed after seeing their earnings decimated by the Covid-19 pandemic. The ability to pandemic-proof your career is a skill you need to learn fast.
With such sobering economic factors it’s easy to lose sight of what you and your expertise are actually worth. In fact, let’s face it, if anything there’s a tendency right now to just get what you can in terms of work – and be grateful for it. But this is a dangerous trend, says business coach Shilpa Panchmatia. “Undervaluing ourselves has far-reaching consequences. When we as women are encouraged to talk about our value, we’re setting expectations out in the world and it’s a lot more than money at play. If you’re good, people will pay you what you’re worth and you shouldn’t be apologetic or naive about it”. Here’s Shilpa’s advice on establishing your value as an employee or freelancer in the eyes of those who are paying for it.
How to pandemic-proof your career if you’re self-employed
Set your own rates
It’s tempting to play the “What can I get?” game, asking “What are my clients willing to pay?” and “What is my competition charging?” Both are pertinent questions when your client is considering your offer, but that’s not the key moment to think about your actual worth. “Relying on these questions when setting your rates will limit how much you earn and keep you from seeing and showing your true value,” says Shilpa. Instead, ask yourself “How much money would make this job worth my time?” Remember it’s not about price but value. “If, say, you are bringing your clients £20k worth of extra profits a year, think in terms of the value you’re giving and time you’re saving them.”
Position yourself as an expert
Arguably your cash-strapped clients may decide to just go and find someone who’ll do the work for half the price – but they won’t, of course, get the benefit of the value you bring and the difference that makes. “Conveying that sense of value is all about positioning. If your client sees you’re giving them a service that makes a real tangible difference to them and their profit, they’re going to pay your fees,” says Shilpa. Positioning yourself in this way involves establishing yourself as an authority via public speaking, teaching a course and/or guesting on blogs and podcasts or creating your own.
Communicate your worth
Create crib sheets about the value you’ve added for previous clients or in previous roles, so that when the time comes to talk rates you can communicate your worth. “And make sure you convey that credibility via all your visual standpoints – your interactions on social media, thought leadership blog posts, testimonials and all your communication with clients. Showing you really know, understand and stay on top of your market will convince customers you know how to make a difference and are both reliable and credible,” says Shilpa.
How to pandemic-proof your career if you’re an employee
Stay ahead of the curve
To pandemic-proof your career it’s not enough to just be good – you have to be top-knotch in terms of knowledge and expertise. “Get 360 degree feedback from colleagues, clients and managers, so you can work on any weak areas that need your attention. And use online learning to upgrade your skills,” advises Shilpa. “Stay abreast of what’s new and happening in your sector and show proof you’re ahead of the curve through what you say and the ideas you contribute. In a recession it’s all about survival of the fittest, so makes sure you’re match-fit.”
Look for a long runway
Take a long hard look at the sector you’re currently in and your position in it. “If you can’t see a long runway for yourself in your field, can you change jobs or sectors? Look for ways to reinvent yourself, to use your transferable skills or find new ways to work,” says Shilpa. It can be hard to face facts and wave goodbye to a career you love, but if the future looks unrelentingly bleak for you, take stock of your skillset and think about retraining, re-skilling, refreshing or pivoting your career.
“Gone are the job-hunting days when you simply sent in your CV and got hired,” says Shilpa. To thrive in the world of work you need to show you are a mover and shaker in your profession. “Let people get a feel for your chemistry and your expertise online, using LinkedIn, podcasts and Instagram Live to share your wisdom. Without the benefit of face-to-face networking, think about how to get yourself into hiring managers’ brain space via the internet – and get yourself noticed.”