In our first post about standing out in the workplace, we talked with a series of experts about what it takes to boost your value in a genuine, legitimate way.
The advice we received was on point. Self-evaluation is a key component to increasing your value; know where you’re weak and hone those areas until they become assets.
Offer to take on a few extra responsibilities and, at the same time, offer your help in situations where a colleague may be too afraid to ask for it. Another tip for private contractors – build your brand through a systematic leveraging of your expertise.
However, helping yourself stand out isn’t limited to these four tips. We received an overwhelming response from HR reps, career coaches and other professionals who had plenty to say about how you can increase your profile the right way.
Be Confident, Even When You’re Not
Confidence issues plague most employees at one time or another, whether they’re starting a new job or their first career.
There tends to be a mindset in which you think everyone around you knows you’re a fraud and is waiting for you to fail.
Matthew Kerr, a career adviser and hiring manager at Resume Genius, says sometimes you have to employ the time-tested “fake-it-’til-you-make-it” mentality.
“This old adage can be surprisingly effective when properly utilized. Rather than stressing yourself out wondering how you can become confident at work, pretend that you are,” Kerr said. “Adopt a mantle of confidence and exude it in everything you do. Confidence in the workplace is by far and wide the easiest and most effective way to stand out.”
Offer Your Input at the Right Time
Your ideas will only speak for themselves if you tell other people about them. Utilize planning and strategizing sessions to share your ideas, Kerr said.
Confidence plays a key role here; without it, you’ll be too timid to pitch your idea. Are you an expert in an area in which your managers are seeking input? Then pitch with confidence. There’s no shame in standing by your experience, even if it means offering up a divergent opinion.
“Sometimes it can be difficult to voice your opinions or ideas when they go against the grain – but that’s one of the best ways to stand out,” Kerr said. “Even if your idea isn’t used, you will create a new discussion and perhaps be the source of solutions that otherwise might have been overlooked.”
If you can’t muster up the fortitude to present in front of a group, do a one-on-one with a supervisor behind closed doors, Kerr said.
Know Why You’re Doing Something Instead of Just Doing It
It’s easier to listen to instructions and do them without putting thought to the reason behind the ask.
While this certainly makes life easy in the short-term, it can lead to disillusionment if you aren’t careful. Three or four years down the road you’ll get tired of robotic obedience and you’ll be left with frustration instead of satisfaction.
Jennifer Braganza, founder of training and leadership firm Exponential Success, said you can impress your bosses if you show you’re just as interested in the “why” as you are in the “how”.
“It will allow you to produce a better product if you understand what is trying to be achieved,” Braganza said. “Sometimes people don’t know what they really want. If you ask the right questions, you can actually help them figure it out and avoid the rework of doing things over and over again.”
The key here is that you’re asking “why” because you want to see and grasp the bigger picture, not because you want to challenge whether you should do the task or project.
Don’t Like Your Job? Exercise Situational Awareness
Career coach Sara Young Wang says the ideal way to stand out at your place of employment is to do what you love.
However, we all know many of us are not in the positions we’ve dreamed of being in. So, Wang said, take a moment to think about how your dissatisfaction is reflected in the way you act throughout the day. These moment-by-moment micro-cues could be holding you back and deterring your ability to stand out.
“Developing more mindfulness of how you respond to requests, how you take feedback/criticism, how you interact with colleagues/bosses in times of stress, etc., allows you to perform your job from a calmer, clearer and more grounded place,” Wang said. “You can stand out as someone who is mature, thoughtful, receptive to feedback/learning and an employee who can be trusted to represent the company. This can contribute to a high potential for promotion.”