As a young professional, you no doubt have a number of professional goals in mind. It’s unlikely that you want to stay in that middle cubicle in an entry level position for the long haul. What can you do to accelerate your trajectory through the company, and be recognized by your boss and top decision makers as an asset? You need to set yourself apart from your coworkers and the competition.
A recent Forbes survey of employers elicited a number of traits sought by executives, including self-monitoring, high-energy, and confidence amongst others. If you have your eye on a promotion, you need to be proactive and express how much you want that position, and show your CEO that you are an important asset to the team.
Broaden Your Personal Brand
When you are applying for jobs you get a chance to market yourself in creative ways. Once you are in a position though, it’s even more important to develop a personal brand that sets you apart as an individual in the larger workforce. By focusing on your own brand, with a cultivated social media presence, and possibly a blog, you will distinguish yourself from the competition. Starting a blog calls attention to your personal opinions, dedication, and expertise. It will allow you the possibility to become an important industry voice; by realizing your potential as an industry player, rather than just a stock company employee, you’re sure to get recognition both inside your company, and outside.
In addition to an online presence that will allow you to voice your opinions, you’ll want to back that personal brand up with some real world networking. Sharpen your professional skills by participating in industry networking events, area young professionals’ groups, and other professional organizations. Get out there and meet people. If you cultivate a network of other professionals that know and respect you, your name has the potential to “come up” in the right circles.
Don’t Stop Learning
Just because you know how to do your job, doesn’t mean that you couldn’t learn how to do your job better. Every industry has a wealth of information out there about it, and its own set of experts. Get involved in digital discussion germane to your industry, and seek out information online. Consider taking a weekly webinar on a specific skill set that you haven’t yet mastered, and make sure that you are reading other industry blogs.
Take your learning offline too. If it’s possible, take night classes that advance your skill set. Maybe you got your job with a simple BA, but an MBA might improve your chances of working your way up the ladder. You don’t have to earn a second degree to see the benefits of continuing your education. Seeking out a few industry-related classes at your local community college might have the same desired effect. If you work in the marketing department of your company, it couldn’t hurt to take a few design classes to get a better sense of composition and line.
Master a Second Language
Those educational pursuits could be valuable when extended to the world of languages too. English is the predominant language of business in America, yet deals are solidified and sales discussed in a variety of languages across the globe. Certain industries are likely to encounter certain languages more than others, maybe your company does business with an international company in South America or China, but the simple act of learning a new language is important.
By taking the initiative to learn Spanish or another business language, you open yourself up to a part of the world’s population that was not available to you before. Professionally, knowing a second language is a great way to make yourself a company asset. Your ability to communicate with consumers in other languages, and to potentially develop other markets, could be attractive to an Employer looking to branch out into more international business. By making yourself an in-house language resource, it’s a great way to show your CEO your initiative.
Take on More Responsibility
A CNN Money study found people who helped their coworkers were 40% more likely to get a promotion. Be careful though, some people ‘suck up’ rather than ‘help out’ when pursuing the boss’ attention. If you are genuine about what knowledge and skills you can add to the team, and are available for anyone who might need a little guidance, you’ll help categorize yourself as not just a team player, but as a valuable asset. Be seen as the go-to person for creating value around the workplace, by tutoring peers, and helping to guide projects.
Beyond helping your coworkers, if you see a project that needs a little extra push, be the person who gives it that nudge. By expediting tasks and accelerating processes, you can show that you are the type of worker that gets things done. Maybe there’s an account that’s been passed around for a while, or a simple administrative task that no one wants to do, by adopting the responsibilities that have become undesirable, you’ll show the whole team that you aren’t afraid to step up.
Optimize Your Performance
Semi-annual and annual performance reviews are commonplace in many companies, but you can give yourself a review to better optimize your performance at work. By looking at your work with a constructively critical eye, you may find ways that you could improve.
After analyzing your strengths and weaknesses, align the former with immediate and ongoing needs of the company. For example, are you proficient in coding or online marketing, working at a business recently making the switch to digital information? You could write a document, charting a six-month power plan for optimizing the brand’s new website, and make sure to credit yourself. Rather than just suggest the idea, if you create a plan or take some of the initial steps that don’t need approval, you can prove your ability to work independently. You’re helping the business while illuminating your individual talents.
Leslie Collins is a long time writer for Pimsleur Approach. She enjoys traveling, coffee, discovering new cultures, and hikes with her golden retriever.
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