In a perfect world, we’d go to work each day standing out for the right reasons and without much effort.
We’ve all known the coworker who tries too hard to rise above the pack. Their methods often create friction and distance them from the rest of the team.
None of us wants to be that employee; standing out is just as much a matter of being genuine as it is about knowing the right people and knowing exactly what to say and do around them.
We reached out to experts across the nation to find out what you can do to be a standout employee without alienating yourself among your coworkers. This post is the first of two that provide seven different tips for standing out.
Grade Yourself and Make a Plan
Ross Wehner, a career coach and founder of WehnerEd, said a mentor of his challenged him to list all the traits of a professional he could think of then rate himself in those areas according to the following scale:
- 1 – Needs improvement
- 2 – Satisfactory
- 3 – You exemplify this quality
Taking stock of his “skill” level in each of the professional traits he listed helped Wehner see where he was weak, where he was strong and where he was mediocre. He recommends having a mentor or colleague rate you according to the same traits.
“Evaluate your ratings and those from others and identify the areas in which you have the most margin for improvement,” Wehner said.
Once you’ve got all the data, make a six-month plan that will help you` get all those areas to a “3”.
“Review your evaluation process every six months or so and constantly be improving what you’re worst at,” Wehner said. “Before too long your worst skill will be better than others’ best skills.”
Your efforts to improve yourself will start to emerge in the workplace; the change will be noticeable.
Take Advantage of Opportunities for Extra Work
Alexis Zanger, a senior marketing manager at Aegis Software Corp., says the age-old recommendation to volunteer for extra work is a time-tested way to stand out.
“Step up to take on extra tasks and more responsibility without having to be asked,” Zanger said. “Showing initiative is a trait that corporate executives look for in the next leader of a team.”
Be careful with this one, though. There’s a fine line between being eager for more work and being eager to please your bosses by taking on more work. One is genuine and the other is dangerously close to people pleasing.
Offer to Help
Our jobs are an arena where asking for help is like waving the proverbial white flag; there just isn’t much dignity in saying you can’t figure something out. As a result, most of us won’t ask for help when we should.
Knowing this, Jana Tulloch, a human-resources professional at tech learning firm Develop Intelligence, said one way you can build your name at work is to offer your help when you know someone is in over their head.
“One of the best ways to stand out is to always be asking, ‘How can I help,'” Tulloch said. “Often people wait for others to reach out to them when someone is needing an extra hand or some specific expertise; being proactive and working to engage with others regularly will help you raise your profile.”
Again, finesse is the key here. Don’t swoop in with plans to take over the project and the credit for a job well done. Enter the situation with a genuine desire to help.
Build Your Own Brand
In the age of private contractors and side gigs, using your free time to build your brand is an invaluable talent.
Frances Reimers, principal at consultancy firm FireStarter, said making yourself stand-out as a brand requires grinding. Become an expert in what’s happening in your industry and start sharing your knowledge among fellow professionals on LinkedIn and other social media platforms.
This is the route Reimers took on her way to starting her own firm.
“I started by establishing my social media platforms and posting interesting content on a consistent basis. Then I graduated to drafting blogs, white papers, and infographics. Finally, I added television, radio, and public appearances,” Reimers said. “The success of this evolution led me to open my own personal brand consultancy so that I may assist individuals and small business who want to stand out from their peers.”
In our next, post we’ll share six more tips that can help you stand out from the pack at your workplace.