How to stand out and get ahead at work

You’re doing okay. Pretty good, even. But that still doesn’t make you a memorable person in the workplace. Here are the right moves to help your career skyrocket.

Photos: ING Image
Photos: ING Image
18 Nov 2015

Photos: ING Image

You’re doing okay. Pretty good, even. In fact, you’re really good at doing everything you’re supposed to do in your job. But that still doesn’t make you a memorable person in the workplace. Why not? Career advancement requires more than good job performance. Here are the right moves to help your career skyrocket.   

1. Build a trusting relationship with your boss.
1. Build a trusting relationship with your boss.
18 Nov 2015

1. Build a trusting relationship with your boss.

Earn your boss’s trust from the start, and continuously reinforce their confidence in your abilities. Be their go-to person. Show support and always make them look good in public. Be smart about what questions you ask. Stupid questions do exist, and not only do they waste your boss’s time, they also make you look lazy. What’s a stupid question? Anything that you should already know the answer to, that you can’t remember, or that you could easily find out or learn on your own. 

2. Speak up in meetings.
2. Speak up in meetings.
18 Nov 2015

2. Speak up in meetings.

If you know what the meeting is about, do your homework and prepare a couple of insightful questions or points to raise. Speaking up in meetings will get you noticed by your peers and more importantly, your superiors. Seize each meeting as an opportunity to stand out as someone who contributes. Remember, leaders don’t sit back. 

3. Use the right language.
3. Use the right language.
18 Nov 2015

3. Use the right language.

Avoid over-apologizing and starting requests with “Sorry, but do you think you could…?” or “I know you’re really busy, but…” This is sheepish language, and it implies that you feel bad about bothering someone when you’re simply doing your job. The same goes for overusing “just.” There’s no need to say “I just wanted to follow up on xyz” when “I wanted to follow up on xyz” is enough. When your manager asks for something, give affirmative responses such as “I’m on it,” or “Done. Let me know if you need anything else.” 

4. Do more than what your job requires.
4. Do more than what your job requires.
18 Nov 2015

4. Do more than what your job requires.

When you stick to your job description, you are only fulfilling the bare minimum. Prove that you’re ready to move up by going above and beyond what is expected. Volunteer to be a part of new initiatives, learn new skills, find better ways to complete tasks more efficiently, and ask your boss if you can lead more projects (then of course, do a stellar job). Your go-getter attitude and commitment will make you stand out. 

5. Engage in activities outside of the office.
5. Engage in activities outside of the office.
18 Nov 2015

5. Engage in activities outside of the office.

Sticking to 8-hour workdays five days a week isn't going to cut it. Go to after work drinks and karaoke night with your colleagues and clients. Get more face time. Join professional organizations to build your reputation and expand your network and industry knowledge. Many managers value soft skills over hard skills, and these social functions are great learning opportunities to develop your soft skills.

6. Identify and get known for your strengths.
6. Identify and get known for your strengths.
18 Nov 2015

6. Identify and get known for your strengths.

Is there a particular subject matter you're an expert at? Build your personal brand around it. If everyone in your department knows that you're an InDesign or Excel whiz, they’ll come to you for help and you'll gain more recognition and value. It’s one more way to become indispensable. 

7. Don’t be afraid to give constructive feedback.
7. Don’t be afraid to give constructive feedback.
18 Nov 2015

7. Don’t be afraid to give constructive feedback.

Criticism isn’t always a bad thing, but it should be constructive and presented with tact. Voicing your true opinions takes guts, especially when you disagree with something, but it can pay off. While you should always show support for your boss in public, if they make an error or you think there’s a better way to do something, communicate it to them privately so that you don’t embarrass them in front of others. The key is to give reasons and solutions for problems. Done correctly, your manager will respect your opinions and see you as a source of ideas for improvements. 

8. Project confidence, even if you don’t feel it.
8. Project confidence, even if you don’t feel it.
18 Nov 2015

8. Project confidence, even if you don’t feel it.

Confidence is a leadership quality and it makes others trust and want to work with you. Get your ideas taken seriously by acting and speaking with conviction. If you appear unsure of yourself, others will doubt you too. By being a positive, confident contributor, you are more likely to engage and motivate others – something your manager will take notice of. This could help you get picked to attend important work functions as the face of the company, earning exposure for both you and your firm.    

9. Train the junior staff and mentor them.
9. Train the junior staff and mentor them.
18 Nov 2015

9. Train the junior staff and mentor them.

Gain more visibility as manager material by helping to train junior staff. Plus, the people you train today you may manage in the future. Get a head start by building relationships early with those you envision as a part of your team. The better the relationship, the more effective the team – and the better you’ll look as a manager.
 

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