How to Make Yourself Indispensable


In this economy, job security is a bit shaky. It’s more important than ever to excel at your job. If you have a good job, or one you’re enduring until you find that dream job, make yourself irreplaceable. This is how I did it.

Sit with the copier. The tendency is to close your eyes and walk right past the copier if it’s jammed or out of paper. You hope someone else will sit on the floor in their work clothes. I’ve been there. I hate doing it too. But when you know how to clean out a 20-sheet jam when copies are needed for a meeting in-progress, you’ll be remembered. The point is not to be the Office Copier Bitch, but to be known as someone who goes the extra mile to make the corporate machine run smoothly.

Learn how to obliterate computer viruses. You don’t have to be a techie to be able to follow directions. My ex-boss was one of the most technologically challenged people I know. She would somehow manage to get over 800 viruses on her computer—even with two firewalls and antivirus software. Instead of making the company pay the computer man to come in and spend hours sitting at her computer, I found a few tools that I could run while I went back to my desk to work:

  1. SpyBot Search and Destroy. Even if you have great antivirus software, this free program adds a little extra punch. It’s found some things that Kaspersky didn’t catch.
  2. HouseCall, by TrendMicro. If you feel like your computer and your antivirus program has been compromised, go here. It’s safe and has helped me out on my aforementioned ex-boss’s computer more than once.
  3. Ad-Aware is another free antivirus program that will remove adware and malware from your computer. I use it in conjunction with SpyBot.

Volunteer for a project even if it’s not your strong suite. It’s a little scary to do, I know. I’ve volunteered to take on web projects when I didn’t quite know how to do CSS or Flash, but I learned. I taught myself. Google is your friend. Everyone everywhere is writing tutorials on how to do almost anything you can think of. Just be sure to build in a little fluff time to accommodate your learning curve. A friend of mine once told me that she really admired how I looked up how to do anything and everything. Personally, I thought that’s what everyone did, so I was a little surprised and more than a little pleased with myself. So I’m telling the rest of you here, don’t be afraid. Don’t know how to use PowerPoint? Look it up. Why, if memory serves me right, a fellow author on this blog has written several articles on the subject.

Understand the politics. Get to know the personalities in the office and how they interact with each other. When I worked at the Company from Hell, I survived by knowing how to play people off of each other. There was the advertising department manager who was always fake happy and had to have her way, even if it meant she was breaking every rule in the book. I was usually fake nice right back at her and told her in syrupy sweet tones that, no, I couldn’t give her reserved ad space for ads she hasn’t yet sold. When she persisted, I went to The Boss. The Boss was a whole kingdom unto himself. I could write a novel on how I had to handle him, but I won’t. The point is, you have your friends at work and then there are The Others. Learn the office politics. Be adaptable.

Don’t take things personally. It’s business, not personal. It might be the fines piece of writing you ever wrote before the editor went at it. She cut your article in half, but it was only because there was limited space in the newspaper. Still, it can hurt. Just keep a copy of your original article along with the published version for your portfolio.

Excel in an area your boss is weak in. Need I say more?

Utilize Lynda.com. This website is FANTASTIC. They have in-depth tutorials on every software I can think of plus a whole bunch that I’ve never heard of. It’s relatively cheap and, if you’re lucky, your company will pay for it as an inexpensive way to keep staff trained. On slow days, I always spend my time learning new things or brushing up on old ones.

Always have a positive attitude, even when you’re not in the mood. There are days when it seems like management is out to get you, when you’ve made a mistake on a project, or the server is down again. Suck it up and put on a half smile. If you remain calm and laidback in the midst of chaos, you’ll be noticed.

Sure, job security is a bit shaky right now. But if you become someone your managers and coworkers can rely on, you’ll be on more stable ground.

How did you make yourself indispensable?


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Stephanie is a graphic designer who has managed art departments in the non-profit and corporate worlds. She is currently Work(ing)Awesome(ly) at home with her company Studio Lewis Graphic Design.

Discussion

  1. Marco Barbosa on the 10th December

    Great tips Stephanie!

    Thanks for sharing :)

  2. Florian Rohm on the 11th December

    Nice tips; I’ll try to follow

  3. Benjamin Jancewicz on the 11th December

    Stephanie, this list is FANTASTIC. Well done.

  4. Paul Hachmang on the 11th December

    “Learn how to obliterate computer viruses.”

    Comming from a computer repair facility, the definite programs at the moment are:

    SUPER Anti Spyware: http://www.superantispyware.com/
    Malwarebytes Anti Mallware: http://www.malwarebytes.org/mbam.php

    The programs you’ve described used to be ‘the shit’ but aren’t any more if you really want to remove all the mess from your computer.

    • Stephanie Lewis on the 11th December

      I actually use Malwarebytes and forgot to list it. I just downloaded Super AntiSpyware today and ran it. It’s great! Thanks for listing it!

  5. The Aleksandar freelancing on the 11th December

    I have use Spybot and Adaware combination for years but few months ago Adaware removed update feature from free version so now it’s either free with old definitions, or paid software.

  6. Mike Gensel on the 11th December

    As for removing viruses/adware/spyware, try majorgeeks.com. There is a forum that people post their issues on and experts will help. I have had some pretty nasty ones that I had a hard time cleaning up (by the way I am one of those aforementioned “Computer Men”) and the helped me out.

    Nice post BTW good info!

  7. Andy Wittwer on the 11th December

    Nice post Stephanie! You said this a couple different ways already, but I always try to have an “I can do that” attitude regardless of task size or importance.

  8. Jeff Bowes on the 11th December

    I have to second your lynda.com recommendation. I have found its tutorials invaluable.

  9. peach on the 14th December

    Great post. Really useful in a situation like here where job security in my company is shaking.

    Excel in an area your boss is weak in, probably hit me the most.

    Thanks for sharing Stephanie.

  10. Paul Gordon on the 14th December

    Great post! Understanding corporate politics has got me by on many an occasion.

  11. Eric Lorenzo Benjamin Jr. on the 15th December

    xmoov terms and conditions from now on! Stephanie you obviously have a job… Are you single? 😛

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