You could come to work in fancy dress riding a unicycle. Or you could consider more sensible and effective ways to get noticed at work – and enhance your career in the process.
But what are the best things to do which will make your boss notice you? Is it simply that you need to work longer and harder than others – or are there other measures you can take?
Be your best
It’s pretty obvious, but there’s no point in getting noticed if you haven’t got the fundamentals right. But assuming you are good at your job have a strategy to make sure you aren’t forgotten when it comes to promotion time.
So offer to take on projects before you are asked. This will make you look proactive and it will appeal to your boss – as the saying goes, one volunteer is worth two pressed men. And a challenging project can be a good way to learn new skills – which will benefit your employer.
Or your boss will also be grateful if you offer to take on a project that’s been lingering on their to-do list for a while. Executive coach Paula Gardner says, to get yourself noticed you need to look at yourself.
“What particular qualities do you have which makes you unique in your team? For example, you could be very good at detail. Or perhaps you’ve got the ability to see the big picture. Maybe you’re good at handling difficult clients – you could offer to take on particularly difficult one. It’s all about looking at what you are good at and emphasising those qualities to get you noticed.”
Looking for a promotion means there’s no time for false modesty
Work better – not longer
You do need to make sure you’re not playing the martyr. If you stayed late after work every day and took work home for the weekends, then that was your choice: if it wasn’t notice or appreciated, then you have to accept that.
John Lees is a careers expert and author – his latest book, How to Get a Job you Love – says while you might think working long hours and taking work home is the way to success it’s not necessarily the best strategy. Instead, you need to pick particular moments when you can impress. For example, you might come up with a solution to a particular problem or offer to be seconded to a different part of the business to solve an issue.
Lees says, “Those who succeed in standing out at work are tuned in to what their organisation needs at that time. Rather than just getting on with the job they are aware of what their company really needs. It’s not about working longer but realising what matters – and acting on that.”
Watch and listen
To enhance your career you need to make sure you’re making sensible comments at meetings – and that you’re listening to others. So make comments which prove you’ve been listening and have taken in what’s been said. Do make sure you don’t criticise other team members: you won’t look clever, just mean.
You should also make sure that what you say in meetings should add to the conversation rather than just be talking for the sake of it.
“You don’t want to waste people’s time: everyone hates that” says Gardener. Watch your body language too: “If you lean back in your chair, you could look uninterested. Folded arms can look blocking. And never sit playing with your pen or scoff down all the croissants. You want to look alert and attentive to all ideas.”
Looking for a promotion means there’s no time for false modesty: you need to ensure that your hard work is noticed – so tell your boss about it. Says Gardener: “Make sure your successes are recognised – otherwise they could easily be missed.”
It’s crucial too that you make sure you get your communications with your boss in the right tone.
“Some people like a regular stream of updates and high quality communications” says Lees . “Others might be annoyed by constant email updates.” If you aren’t sure how the person you are reporting to likes to be kept in the loop, ask others, adds Lees . Getting communications wrong could hamper the good work you’ve put in if you irritate your boss with too much or too little information.
If you don’t succeed..
What if all your attempts to be noticed at work fall on hard ground and you don’t get that promotion or project you wanted.
“If this happens, you need to decide what part of the machine isn’t working’ says Lees . “Is it the organisation? The sector? If it’s your relationship with your manager that’s not working then it could be time to move elsewhere within your company.”
Charlotte Beugge spent more than 20 years as the deputy personal finance editor on The Daily Telegraph and then The Daily Mail. A freelancer since 2010, her work has appeared in national newspapers, magazines and websites.