Sometimes the squeaky wheel gets the grease. You may wish that quiet competence stood out, but often it's missed or, even worse, mistaken for lack of ambition.
To get promoted, be considered for new projects, and oftentimes be included in important decisions, you need to stand out. Of course, in standing out you don't want to be seen as a problem, an egomaniac, or a self-promoter. Instead, you want to gain attention in the right way.
Never say no
It's one thing to never turn down a request from your boss. It's another thing entirely to be the type of employee willing to do whatever it takes to help a co-worker.
Never saying no doesn't mean letting yourself get taken advantage of. Instead, it's about being willing to try new things, take on difficult tasks, and be part of experiments and projects.
Be a team player
The best way to become the boss in many cases is to show you can be a good teammate. Work with people when asked and be generous in sharing credit. If people like working with you, they will clamor to work with you. That will open up doors and maybe put you on lists to do things you may not have even known were happening.
Take on the hard jobs
There's always work that nobody wants to do. Be willing to take on the tasks. That doesn't mean you have to do every miserable job, but you should do more than your fair share.
Sometimes, that means doing things not related to your main job. Maybe you stay after to help clean up after a special event, or perhaps you take on the task of making sure a key client has a nice dinner after a sales meeting.
Know and share
If there's a goal you're working toward, it's reasonable to share that goal with your boss. Maybe you want to be promoted to a certain level or you wish to get transferred to a certain office. Schedule time to politely talk with your supervisor about it and schedule check-ins, maybe twice a year, to make sure you're on track.
Be a good person
You'll get noticed being the person who always has something negative to say at meetings, but that's not the right kind of attention. Instead, focus on always putting your co-workers and team ahead of yourself. Be generous with your help, praise, and time. People will notice that.
You do you
Remember that at many offices your career is your own responsibility. That means you need to take control of it. Sometimes it's just a case of action creating opportunity.
Work to meet people not in your department. Find out what they do and build a network of friends and colleagues. Learn new skills that help in your current job and ones which might translate to the job you dream about having.
Don't just go to work and do your job. Find ways to go above and beyond not just in performing your job responsibilities. Volunteer for charity opportunities through the office and be part of work excursions when they come up. Be active, have fun, and try to make everyone's day a little easier.
Over time, these steps will build you positive notice. That won't happen quickly, but it will help you create a solid foundation to build a career on.
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