Written by Alex Moore
There are countless resources for how to stand during the interview process, but it’s easy to feel lost once you’ve actually landed the position. You get the job you wanted, but then your career plans get lost in a sea of anonymity proudly called “the workforce.”
Of course, now you are faced with a new problem, how to make sure you stand out at work so that you are first in line for the next fun project or promotion. The trouble is, too many of us simply settle into the position we have, and no one promotes, propels, or commits to helping us become the next leaders of the organization. To make sure your professional dreams don’t turn stagnant like the afternoon coffee in the break room, follow these turns 5 easy steps to follow to ensure that you stand out at your place of work.
1. Keep building your personal brand during and outside of work
Smart companies know that it’s to their benefit to have employees who are known for their subject matter expertise, even better if they have an influential following outside of work. Don’t stop promoting yourself now that you’re on the payroll. Here’s how to do it:
Showcase your work: Work with your company to find speaking opportunities where you can showcase your knowledge and the great work being done at your workplace. Keep track of the results and positive client feedback you’ve received, and mention or share them with your team at large where appropriate. If there is no place for recognition at your firm, create something.
Make strategic alliances: The best way to stay top of mind for exciting new professional opportunities is to build and tighten relationships inside the office and within a network. By broadening your network, you increase your chances of being able to save the day when your boss needs something or someone in a pinch.
Be a person, first: Yes you have been hired because of your skills and experience, but also because of who you are. Share your unique hobbies and interests with your team to help them get to know you better. Plainly, if you are good at something not job-related, do not be afraid to speak about it or show it. Writing, singing, stand-up comedy, arts and crafts, scuba diving – it matters not. What matters is that you will be “that person” who makes karaoke endurable at office parties. People notice people they like.
2. Don’t be afraid to speak up + assert yourself
New employees – even the most talented ones – sometimes fear that standing up and speaking up too will draw negative attention, upset the hierarchy, or bother other people. While you do want to pay attention during meetings, and make sure you’ve done your own research before proposing an idea that say, was just done last quarter, do speak up when you have a good idea demonstrates your alertness and proves your value to the company. Brush up on your communication skills so that you can phrase suggestions in such a way that you are clearly acknowledging any blind spots, and inviting clarification rather than bulldozing a project at first review.
After all, being a good employee means having the best interests of the company at heart, and that means being assertive when you see an opportunity to save money, grow business, save time etc. Overtime and saying yes to everything are not are the only way for newcomers to show value. It might be challenging at first, but consider it a part of your professional development.
3. Make the Best Use of Your Transferable Skills
You can use your experience taking that improv class to pitch the heck out of that new client, or your retail management experience to make the showroom shine. Consider what in your previous work and life experience might be of value to the company, and consider how these transferable skills are secret weapons.
Here’s a quick example: A young college graduate got a job as a counseling psychologist for troubled teenagers in an NGO. She did her job well and with enthusiasm, but there seemingly wasn’t a ton of opportunity to move up within the organization. Then one day she offered to take notes during a staff meeting (aha assertiveness!), because the secretary had a day off. She turned those notes into a paper emphasizing the most important parts, offered her input regarding numbers, deadlines, and objectives, and sent it to all interested parties. One month later, she got a promotion to assistant project coordinator because her skills in information gathering, analyzing, processing, and presenting in writing were unparalleled.
4. Get Involved in Business Development
There is nothing company leaders hate hearing more than “it’s not my job” or “they don’t pay me to do that.” While it may not be your job to bring new clients, seek new opportunities, put some new projects or ideas on the table, nurture an intern, going the extra mile to keep your company top of mind as you go about your life shows you are committed to a long-term relationship and truly see yourself as a team player. If might not seem right now as though you have the power to influence sales from the top down, but you never know who you will meed or what opportunities will crop up. By considering yourself part of the business development department, title or not, you’ll be ready to pounce when the opportunity comes up.
If your job is just a job, well, you can sit on the bench and watch other people have all the fun. If you
want a piece of the action, enter the field and play the game. No job is too small to start thinking big,
Alex Moore is a West Virginia psychology undergraduate enthralled with everything mindfulness, workplace organization, and work-life balance. You can find more of his tips at JobApplicationCenter.com