What is a Personal Value Proposition and Why Do You Need One?
Every employee and potential employee needs to create and hone a personal value proposition to help them stand out as candidates for promotions and getting a job in the first place. As career ladders change, and job security becomes non-existent, a shift is occurring from employment value proposition (a company’s value to its current and potential employees) to personal value proposition (a person’s value to the company). This is discussed further by John W. Boudreau and Ian Ziskin (2011), in their journal article: The future of HR and effective organizations.
Furthermore, as a specific example, in the world of knowledge & information professionals it is becoming more and more critical to show your contribution to the business and to be able to explain your personal value proposition. I would venture to guess this is critical in any field where it is difficult to directly monetize your contributions (as an individual, team, or even the whole organization).
In Marianne Broadbent’s article, Business, knowledge, information: where’s the value proposition?, she concludes: “Finally, and most critically, you must [be] able to articulate your personal value proposition to your enterprise. Don’t expect anyone else to do so. Get used to life not being fair, make your own successes, and don’t shy away from communicating your real contribution to the success of the enterprise” (2002, p.338). I think her words are going to become increasingly applicable as complexity increases and the world becomes ever-more unpredictable.
So, what is a value proposition?
Historically, value propositions have been used for business marketing purposes (from company to customer). However, American culture has moved increasingly toward the need for individuals to market themselves (Cain, 2012). Now, just about everything has to have its own distinctive value proposition, or branding, including projects. In the case of potential employees, this shows up in the imperative to “sell” oneself during an interview. And with employees and teams, this means creating value propositions for marketing oneself to one’s own company.
Taken from a marketing perspective, a value proposition is when a provider of a service or good offers said services or goods to a customer via a proposal, which can lead to co-created value as each side contributes to the discussion (i.e. contracting). Theoretically, the agreement will lead to the customer gaining something valuable for a price they deem acceptable and the provider gaining revenue for providing services or goods without overtaxing available resources.
Additionally, in the most successful value propositions, the provider has thorough knowledge of the customer’s needs, the ability to demonstrate value potential, and the skills to co-create with customers. All of these factors can and have been copied from the original marketing/sales context and applied elsewhere.
And what is a personal value proposition?
Proactive people are managing their own careers in many ways, and one of these ways is to create a personal value proposition. They craft a strategic, flexible value proposition in which they offer employers their unique skills, talents, specialties, and time in return for a paycheck and employee benefits (e.g. insurance, retirement, vacation days, etc). And, much like business marketers, they must make sure not to overtax their available resources when co-creating their value proposition with the employer. In addition, the other parallel to the marketing perspective’s value proposition is that employees and potential employees are usually more successful in obtaining jobs and securing promotions if they have thorough knowledge of the employer’s needs, the ability to demonstrate value, and skills to co-create a mutually acceptable contract (with employers).
Creating a dynamic value proposition is a major step in taking your career into your own hands. Most freelancers are familiar with the need to create, hone, and adapt their value propositions (even if they do not realize that is what they are doing). In the world of job insecurity, everyone can consider themselves freelancers. Sure, you get a regular paycheck, your taxes are taken care of by your employer, and you get a W2 instead of a 1099. And yet, much like a freelancer, if you are not adding value to an organization it has no reason to keep you around.
What is your value proposition? Do you know how to answer the question of what value you add to the team, to the organization, to the industry? Is the organization aware of the value you add or are you the only one who knows all the things you do for your employer?
If creating and sharing your value proposition feels overwhelming, you are not alone. Many of us are not used to thinking and talking about ourselves in this way, and it requires some future-thinking, big-picture thinking, and perspective-shifting. I strongly recommend that you reach out for support and assistance in creating a value proposition. You will likely need to look at it from multiple angles.
For instance, friends and family may be helpful in cataloging your skills and talents that may or may not be acknowledged at work. Mentors in your industry (or the industry you hope to work in) can provide useful industry-based information and guidance. Internet search engines can be useful preliminary research tools. And career coaches and counselors help provide an outside perspective and have specialized knowledge to guide you in crafting a dynamic value proposition. Any and all of these sources may be useful in your journey to create your own value proposition and take control of your career path.
Contact Essential Explorations for more information on crafting your very own value proposition. No matter what stage of the process you are in, Essential Explorations is here to help you get to the next level.