Even if you can't change the state of today's employment market, perhaps you can increase your "career currency" with actions both big and small every day. In a helpful BusinessWeek article, workplace expert Lynn Taylor outlines 15 steps to make yourself more valuable. "Each of us brings a unique skill set and intrinsic value to the job marketplace. She writes:

How we reaffirm our professional worth to ourselves and broadcast it externally (to colleagues, employers, and even customers) can increase our career currency and contribute heavily to our success." 

The overall concept:

Your career currency changes every hour, much like the stock market. A brilliant idea, a masterful meeting, the savvy handling of a difficult matter with a subordinate, peer, or manager, your assertiveness all affect the index. A rewarding day of job hunting, interviews, or bringing a major project closer to fruition all move your index higher.

So how you do it? Some of Taylor's suggestions are obvious (rewrite your resume, network all the time), while others are more creative and involve a bit of soul searching and, in some cases, courage. Here's some:

  • Imagine that you're making a speech at your retirement party years from now. What would you wish you had accomplished? Then act upon it! If you don't limit your thinking, you won't limit the possibilities.
  • Design your career objectives based on what would bring you the greatest long-term satisfaction¿without being afraid of going off-road. Your career journey could take you into unexpected but exciting territory as you gradually achieve greater "market value."
  • Don't hide your light under a bushel. Some people lay low during downsizing, hoping they'll stay under the radar - and clear of layoffs. On the contrary, those who help out, work hard, volunteer, mentor others, and excel under adversity are highly regarded and remembered. Be a hero under fire.
  • Be a promoter. There's a difference between being a shameless bragger and a subtle self-promoter. When you sing the praises of your company, some of the glory is inevitably reflected back on you. Consider writing for the company's e-newsletters or Intranet, professional blogs, journals, and trade publications, or speaking at local business functions.

--Don Willmott