Last year, 2.8 million new graduates entered the workforce. This year, with unemployment levels down 6 percent and employers feeling freshly eager to snag the best and brightest young talent, there will be more opportunity and more competition for workplace recognition and advancement than ever before.
In this article, learn how to stand out and get noticed by decision makers so you will be the one receiving the best projects and most lucrative advancement opportunities.
Dress the Part
There are many workers who get up, put on the uniform of choice for their industry (whether it be a hard hat or a suit and tie) and head out for another day of earning and learning. But this doesn’t mean that what they are wearing represents the fullness of who they are or what they enjoy in life. It just means they are willing to step fully into the role required of them to work in the job they do.
This can feel very constricting for new hires in particular, who may have come from a setting where hair color, tattoos, jewelry and other personal accents were a non-issue. But they are still a big issue in many industries, especially in the more conservative fields such as accounting and finance. So if you have landed a plum job in an industry that requires conservative attire and appearance, you simply must do what it takes to fit in and dress the part.
This means paying attention to the corporate dress code in every way from choosing the best undershirts for men to selecting an appropriate tie to making sure your shoes are shined each and every day.
Generally speaking, the basic components of professional dress include these:
- Conservative hair cut and no facial hair or only well-groomed facial hair
- Tasteful makeup for women and no makeup for men
- Removal of all piercings except in ears (for women only)
- Conservative jewelry that is not distracting
- Cleaned and ironed dress attire – suits for formal meetings and business casual (skirts or pants with blouses and dress shirts) for in-office days
- Shined shoes worn with color-appropriate socks
- Modest attire, including wearing the best undershirts for men under dress shirts for men and non-sheer blouses for women
Smiling at work can pay off for you in a number of ways. In fact, even smiling during your recruitment and interview process boosts your chances of being the lucky candidate who receives that coveted offer letter.
But after you’ve signed on, keep smiling. Here’s why:
- Smiling people fit in better regardless of the corporate culture
- Smiling people make more friends (and connections)
- Smiling people get more invitations to join work teams as well as workplace social events because they are perceived as easier and more fun to work with
- Smiling people are more likely to be perceived as having leadership potential
- Smiling, happy people are more productive at work and are more likely to have time to help a co-worker, which is pure bottled advancement potential
- Smiling people are more likely to sit in the top quarter of jobs at any company
A worker who takes time to help out around the office, be it when a co-worker is out sick and there is no one to fill their shoes or when a new committee is formed that needs employee volunteers, is called a “work altruist.”
Not only are work altruists more likely to climb all the way to the executive levels in an organization, but they are better known and better liked by co-workers (many of whom are likely past or current recipients of the altruist’s generosity).
As a work altruist, you are also highly visible within your organization. Anywhere management or co-workers look, there you are again. You are giving your all at your regular job and in ways that go over and above your job description. All of this is a clear formula to stand out, win recognition and in time stack your resume in favor of a promotion.
Excellence in the Ordinary
It should go without saying that you must do your own job excellently each and every day. This doesn’t mean doing this perfectly or not making mistakes. What it does mean is learning from your mistakes, sharing what you have learned with your supervisor and making sure not to make that same mistake again. Successful people strive for excellence in every aspect of their life. Never be satisfied with mediocrity.
Excellence in the ordinary also means turning in work that shows you going the extra mile, finding little details to improve upon, suggesting new approaches to save time and money, finding ways to make more money for the company and contributing all of your talents to your role. You know you have done this well when you start being known as the employee to go to when management needs something done right the first time!
Showing that you can take initiative is not the same as insisting on having the last word in every discussion or shoving team mates out of the way and doing everything yourself. In fact, both of these can get you overlooked (and let go) in a hurry.
Rather, your goal in taking the initiative might include these and similar acts:
- Volunteering to take some of your boss’s workload
- Stepping up to volunteer for less desirable team work responsibilities
- Having the courage to share well-thought out ideas with your team and boss
- Suggesting new services or products to enhance customer service
- Creating helpful reports without being asked
Show Up for Happy Hour, Family Day & Holiday Parties
This tip boils down to the fact that you won’t be noticed if you aren’t there. You may not care to spend your free time outside of work with your coworkers, but if you want to get promoted, you will find a way to do so.
The truth is, these extracurricular events and activities represent the best (and often the only) way your coworkers and supervisors can get to know you outside of the strict structure of the workplace setting. As well, showing up to these events means showing support for your co-workers whose job it is (or who have taken the initiative) to plan ways that co-workers can connect outside of work hours.
Find a Way to Attract New Business
Whether you happen to be working in advertising, marketing and sales or not, any employee that helps the company to bring in new business is a slam-dunk to be noticed, recognized and potentially promoted.
Whether this means waking up extra early to attend networking breakfasts in your industry, serving as the point of contact to bring in new sales leads or signing up for continuing education with your local professional organization after work hours, if it pays off in new business for your company, you will be on everyone’s radar.
Own Your Own Accomplishments
Your false humility isn’t fooling anybody.
It can be a very admirable trait to want your hard work to speak for itself. However, it is unwise to leave this up to chance. Your boss is likely very busy as well and may not notice your accomplishments unless it is performance review time or you mention them personally. You may have to put yourself forward for recognition awards or recruit a work friend to do it for you.
You should also practice accepting genuine, well-deserved praise openly and honestly. Downplaying your achievements when they are acknowledged publicly will not serve your career goals well. Instead, aim for a friendly, confident “thank you – I am proud of that achievement and appreciate your acknowledgment!”
Ask for Help and Advice
If you can successfully pull this tip off, you could end up being everyone’s favorite person as well as the worker voted “most likely to….” By seeking out co-workers and inviting them to contribute their knowledge to a work project or asking them to mentor you in a new area, you in effect are acknowledging their expertise and providing an opportunity for you both to be recognized.
To date, there is still no one single “sure thing” formula that you can follow to guarantee you will be noticed and promoted. But if you work on each of the tips on this list, you will have a much higher than average chance of succeeding in your new job!