Monday, June 22, 2009

Me! Me! Look at me!

"Me! Me! Look at me!" How many times has this been you at work? Never? I'm not surprised. Few people like to call attention to themselves at their place of employment; this is doubly so during times of economic turmoil where the job market is tough. Yet this is exactly the time to call attention to yourself.

Let's face it: anonymity gets you nowhere. Even were the economy booming and the job market rife with new opportunities like a newly sodded, fertile garden, it is the early bird that gets the worm; the squeaky wheel that gets the oil; the ambitious professional that gets the raise or the promotion.

Before continuing, the obvious should be noted: there is such a thing as good attention and bad attention. This isn't Hollywood where any media presence is good for your career. In fact, bad attention can be disastrous for you in certain situations.

So how do you stay on the radar of those around you that have the ability to influence your professional career? Here are a few thoughts culled from my years of professional experience.

Do be an entrepreneur. I'm not suggesting for a moment that you should quit your job and open up that coffee shop in the empty corner store that you've been eyeing for years. What I am suggesting is that you keep your eyes open. If you see something that needs to be done; you have the ability to do it successfully; and it is something that has a quantifiable amount of value to your department, division or company then do it as long as it doesn't affect your ability to fulfill your normal, day to day responsibilities. (I stress the word "quantifiable" so that you can use it to justify your next raise. See my blog entry Everyone is in Sales for more on this topic.)

Do ask for additional responsibility. Whenever I think of this, I involuntarily cringe at the vision of working until 10pm or later every night, akin to first year law students who burn the midnight oil or get dropped from the program. This isn't so. In fact, if you find that you are playing Flow, Ikariam, or other games during the day then you probably already have the time to do something extra to highlight yourself in the eyes of your boss.

Don't point out problems. Simply highlighting a deficiency in the work environment does nothing but make you look like a complainer. However, if you have a possible solution in mind then be sure to bring up both parts of this equation to the appropriate individual. Be prepared, however, for them to think they have a better solution and to assign the task of implementing their solution to you.

Don't assume that these thoughts are an elixir for your career. It is critically important that you realize that every situation is different. As such, any advice you receive should be viewed in the light that it may be spot-on, may need some adaptation, or may not work in your specific situation. Caveat emptor to be sure, but if you have the motivation then maybe some of these ideas will help you get ahead in your current job and in your career

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