Carnegie Mellon University

Worried About Your Job?

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How to Be a Star at Work

Robert Kelley

In today's economic downturn, it can be challenging to find or keep a job. Applying some key strategies can help, says Carnegie Mellon Professor Robert E. Kelley.

He believes in the importance of aligning your contributions with the critical path of the enterprise, that is, the most direct line between what your organization does and the customers who pay for or benefit from it.

"When companies look to cut back, they start at the peripheral functions and work toward the core of critical path activities," explained Kelley, who authored the national best-seller How To Be a Star at Work. "Whether in a profit or non-profit firm, you want to be doing work essential for the organization's success."

An adjunct professor in the Tepper School of Business, Kelley suggests focusing on what value you add to your employer - helping to satisfy customers, increase profits or reduce costs - rather than focusing on what the employer can do for you.

Demonstrating that you are a self-starter who requires little management and is willing to go above and beyond your job description is also a good idea, according to Kelley. But he suggests taking that one step further.

"Help others find or succeed in their jobs rather than just tapping them to get what you want," Kelley said. "To be worth anything, networks need to be two-way."

"Don't take the economic downturn personally, even though you're being personally affected," offered Kelley. "Life is sometimes random and unfair. So, try to stay optimistic and control what you can."

Kelley also wrote The Gold-Collar Worker, Consulting: The Complete Guide to a Profitable Career and The Power of Followership. His work and ideas have appeared on NBC's Today Show, CBS Evening News, ABC, CNN, National Public Radio and in The New York Times, Fortune, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal among other publications.

His current work focuses on how to leverage intellectual capital, how to make companies customer-driven and how to create strong followership-leadership skills.

Related Links: Buy the Book  |  Kelley Ideas.com  |  Tepper School of Business