1. Choose something you actually like
The best way to be successful at anything is to actually have a passion to do it. This keeps you wanting to do your job for the long-term and means that your career is sustainable.
If you're internally motivated as an employee, to want to do the work, to want to help the company grow, every company would love to hire you.
2. Be a lifelong learner
You may have been a great employee 10 years ago, but is this still true today?
Especially for senior executives, companies will make their first cut at this layer at any downturn. Because they often have high salaries, but are far less productive than junior employees. Make sure you are not taking things for granted, as before long you may be rendered obsolete.
Related to this is up-skilling yourself on technology. To remain relevant in the modern workforce, you need to be effective with computers and technology.
Many companies are also investing in internal systems to make their workflow more efficient. While these kind of company-wide tech roll-out is usually met with complaints by employees, make sure you adopt a positive attitude and be the first in line to learn about the changes and adopt them. Your boss will be grateful for this iniative and may even task you to lead the way in training your colleagues.
3. Be an effective communicator
Communication affects everything you do, and helps you engage your bosses and colleagues in an effective way. This makes you a valuable employee. Crucially, if you are in a client-facing role, this matters a lot to clinching sales and deals.
If you were to invest in yourself, make sure you focus on communication! There so many helpful videos on this online and books you can read. You can also adopt your behaviour around a popular colleague that has great interpersonal skills. Figure out what he/she is doing right and mirror it.
4. Be focused on results
Fundamentally, all companies care about results. Nobody cares about the long hours you put in if it doesn't translate into results. This is why that annoying colleague of yours never gets fired. Because he brings in the sales!
Don't whine about the "effort" you put in, focus on what results you are achieving. Be self-aware about your actual contributions, and work smart not hard to make sure your company recognizes you for it!
That is not to say that your bosses are blind to bad behaviour. More often than not, they are perfectly aware of bad behaviour but at their priority level, they care more about the bottomline. This is an unspoken truth, and employees who can adjust their mindset and work for their bosses' objectives (rather than being overly concerned with "fairness" or their own individual needs) will do very well.
5. Don't be a Debbie-Downer
People want to be around happy people. If you're constantly complaining or being negative about everything, you will repel people. While you don't have to be a people-pleaser, having friends will definitely get you further than having enemies.
Office politics should also be handled with care. No office is without politics, and sometimes you have to play the game to win it. However, you should have your own value system and never do anything that you will regret in the long-term. Your career and reputation matter more than any short-term gain.
Ultimately, companies want trustworthy and effective employees. Play your part well, and make sure to be aligned with your bosses' objectives, and you will certainly be an employee in demand!
Got any career questions? Want to improve your cover letter or CV? Check out our resource page for more career tips.