Professional Feature: Acting Cost-Consciously


About The Professional Feature 'Acting Cost-Consciously'

Cost-conscious acting means that your thinking and your actions are focused on the optimal use of time, money and other resources. You are aware of the budget or the (project) budget and you keep an eye on the fact that no costs will be exceeded. You have an eye for financial consequences and try to limit costs where possible.

What does that mean in concrete terms?

If you act cost-consciously, you've the following characteristics:

- You are aware of the budget or the (project) budget and you keep an eye on the fact that no costs will be exceeded.
- You look at the deployment of people and resources in a businesslike manner.
- You weigh costs and revenues well against each other.

In your work you use materials and tools with care.

- You think about the financial consequences of measures, plans and actions.
- You constantly look for new, smart methods to limit costs.

Can this competency be developed?

Yes, you can certainly develop a cost-conscious approach.

- Choose two products or services that your company or department produces or offers. First make an overview of the indirect costs (material, labor, etc. ) and then of the indirect variable costs, such as those of energy. You then calculate the indirect fixed costs (rent of the building, etc. ). Then you map out what the returns are. You can split the revenues into direct short-term revenues and long-term revenues, such as the promotional value or brand recognition.
- Make an overview of the products that your organization makes or the services it offers. Which products or services deliver the most in the short term? And which in the long term?
- Find out at which costs your organization could save and how. Include both the direct production costs and the indirect costs and fixed costs in your calculation.

How do you demonstrate cost-conscious behavior when applying?

Imagine: you are applying for a job as a human resources manager. During the job interview the interviewer asks if you can give a concrete example of a cost saving that you've made. You think and you say: “When I started working at my current employer, no one had insight into the actual costs of recruiting and selecting staff. When an employee left, a recruitment and selection agency was called in. I thought it was an expensive way of working and was convinced that it could be cheaper. I then mapped out all direct and indirect costs and compared them with the costs that would be incurred if P&O fully assumed this task. The outcome was clear: it would save a few tens of thousands of euros on an annual basis. I presented these figures during the MT meeting and the management was shocked.

In addition, I made it clear to them that it was much cheaper to keep an existing employee than to recruit a new one. I pointed out to them that it's financially more interesting to invest in development opportunities and good working conditions. It was decided to only recruit a recruitment and selection agency in exceptional cases and to invest more in the retention and development of staff. The recruitment and selection costs have fallen considerably. Not only because we do this ourselves nowadays, but also because the investment in training and career development means that considerably fewer people have left the company. "


During your interview, be careful when giving exact figures or percentages, even if the selector insists. Before you know it, you unintentionally disclose sensitive business information and that can have very unpleasant consequences for you if your current employer finds out.

Examples of questions about acting cost-consciously during the job interview

- Would you describe yourself as a cost-conscious person? Can you give examples where that shows?
- What cost savings have you achieved in the past year? How did you achieve these savings?

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