What’s the one thing you absolutely have to do to advance in your career? Two words: Add Value.

That’s according to Steve McIntosh, CEO, HR and executive recruitment expert, and author of a new e-Book entitled The Employee Value Curve: the unifying theory of Human Resources helping companies and their people succeed together.

While this advice may sound obvious or generic to some, Steve says that ignoring or misunderstanding the need to add value for your employer is the number one thing holding many ambitious professionals back in their careers.

“Think of your labor as a product. To get someone to pay more for your product, you have to increase the value they receive.” Thus Steve’s eBook flips the script on career advancement. “Employment is not a zero-sum transaction. It’s possible to give more and get more at the same time. In fact, it’s not just possible; it’s the only way it’s going to work.”

“There are around nine different ways employees can add value in their workplaces,” says Steve. “Many employees focus on only one or two of these, often missing the bigger opportunities to drive real value for their employers, or even just pick some low-hanging fruit.”

For those looking for something more concrete, here are Steve’s top tips.

Cheer Up

Your impact on other people’s morale is a big component of your value, or if that impact is negative, your cost. Working with a Debbie (or a Dan!) Downer decreases your productivity and motivation, while working with someone who’s always positive and kind has the opposite effect. The more people you interact with each day, and the more senior you are, the greater that impact. Make it count.

Innovate

In his career-advancement workshops, Steve gets attendees to brainstorm all the ways employees add value. While innovation is one of the most important drivers of employee value, it’s often one of the last groups think of. Innovating doesn’t just mean inventing a new product, it means thinking of ways to do things better or more efficiently. Innovating not only adds value; it also shows you can think like an entrepreneur and solve problems like a boss.

Arbitrage

Adding value doesn’t just mean generating revenue, it also means saving cost. A great way to add value is to outsource bits of your work to less-costly alternatives. If your time is worth $200 an hour to the company, it doesn’t make sense to do mundane administrative tasks you could pay someone $20 to do for you.

Having the ability to explain and give specific examples of how you have added value to the company puts you in an optimal position to be able to compete for promotions and negotiate a pay raise when the time comes.

For more detailed tips, you can find Steve’s e-book here.Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.