The realities of employment

The hard fact about any job, in any industry, is what that job is worth to an employer. Every job is designed to achieve a dollar value, in terms of productivity. Salaries and budgets operate on this basis. The value of a job, in terms of making money for the employer, is the absolute bottom line.

The entire process of job design and recruitment is based on delivering a cost effective performance. Every job is costed and budgeted, and that's the fundamental process of creating a job


Business costing includes the expenses of running a business, which are often huge. That means that employers have to both make profits or save on costs and outlays. In some cases, like government work, rather than pure profit, the need is for efficiency, like saving time, or increasing productivity. Essentially, they're the same thing, and work on the value of the job to the employer.

It is absolutely essential that a job applicants prove they can provide that value to the employer. For job applicants, in a competitive environment, the need is to prove convincingly that you understand the needs of the position, and can deliver what the employer wants, better than anyone else.


A job can be either a money-maker, or a money-spender. You need to keep in mind the needs of the employer. Remember that the priorities of the job are always cost based.

For a money-maker, you have to show your ability to increase revenue.

That can be done simply:

  1. Show how you have increased earnings/sales/revenue in the past, producing factual information from your previous work.
  2. KPIs, and your performance by comparison. This is hard data for an employer, and it's a meaningful way of proving your value as an employee. It's also a method of showing you understand the importance of this method of measuring performance.
  3. If you've acted to increase efficiency in your workplace, you can show how you did it, and what improvements you were able to make. This is extremely useful in showing participation and initiative. Your ideas in this area are important. You show a willingness to contribute.

For a money-spender, there are some similarities:

  1. Show how you added value to your work by performance.
  2. Again, KPIs and other performance measures are very important. In money-spending jobs, the important factor is what that money's being spent on doing. If you can show high quality performance in relation to cost, you're making an important point in your favor.
  3. Increased efficiency is particularly relevant in relation to outlays by employers. Saving time and money is vitally important. If you can demonstrate that you have made savings, you become more valuable to an employer. As above, showing initiative and the willingness to participate and contribute is also an important quality.

In addition to these points, there are a few fundamental elements in your approach to an employer which are sometimes overlooked. These are also very much related to the value of your work, and should never be neglected:



There's nothing more irritating than an employee who can't manage times. It's sometimes very destructive in the workplace, and causes serious dislocations as people try to cover for absent staff. It costs time and money.


If given a job to do, you're being trusted by your employer to do that job properly. Your level of value to the employer is measured by your responsibilities. Reliable workers are priceless, and you should respect the trust shown to you.

Performance standards.

Contrary to popular belief, performance standards aren't just there to give management something to do. They're dollar based. Everything in the workplace comes down to a real figure in dollar terms. They do matter, very much, and you need to ensure that you're ahead of whatever performance standards are set for your job. It pays for itself by making sure you're being more efficient.


How you relate to other staff and clients is another very important part of job values. Good working relationships promote efficiency, and therefore improve cost effectiveness. They add quality to the working conditions, improve services, and often make problems much easier to manage. If you've been asked about 'relationships' and 'team building' in an interview, this is what it's about.

Extra work.

If you've ever done extra work, outside your normal load, helped out with others' work, or taken on extra duties, you're performing a very useful, and valuable, role for any employer. It means you can do more, and that when required, you will do more. That's a good thing for an employer to know, and it increases your scope in terms of proving your value


Problem solving.

This is a very common denominator in many jobs. How you deal with problems is one of the basic measures of how well you know your job. You need to be able to quote cases. All jobs have some problems. All problems are potentially expensive to an employer. Make sure you can demonstrate your skills.

Never underestimate your own abilities. If you're a good, reliable worker, make an extra effort, and help where you're needed, with or without being asked, you're being truthful when you says so at an interview. You've probably done all these things, almost without consciously noticing.

These are the fundamentals. In the following chapters we'll explain how to use your experience and skills to get that job.