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5 steps to stand out at work

Group of businesspeople in a literal spotlight

At a glance

  • Visibility can be an important attribute to consider for long-term career growth.
  • Speaking up at meetings, solving problems at work and networking are a few actionable ways to stand out at work.
  • The fastest-growing jobs in the future will require more than a degree; being visible can help you showcase your skills and knowledge. 
  • Get career guidance from University of Phoenix, including free, downloadable resources, such as cover letter templates, job prep kits and more. 

What does being visible at work mean, and why is it important? How do remote environments affect visibility? What’s effective, and what’s in poor taste?
In the post-pandemic work landscape, remote work is here to stay. However, a lesser-known fact, reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), is that remote work slowed wage growth by two percentage points over the first two years of the pandemic. Could this at least partially be due to employees’ capabilities and accomplishments being less visible to their bosses and peers?

Alice Rush, a career advisor at University of Phoenix, says, “Visibility is important to everyone in all careers in order to advance. Even if you have your own business, visibility is important to stay in business and remain profitable. Whether you work in a laboratory, out in the field or at the headquartered office doing accounting, if no one sees you do it, how does your employer understand your value?”

It’s the old if-a-tree-falls-in-a-forest conundrum but with a decidedly more impactful context: your career. Read on to find out how visibility can affect your career trajectory and how you can better stand out at work without alienating others.   


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Why and how should I be more visible?  

If you lean more toward the introverted side of the personality spectrum, visibility may feel like the last thing you want in your life and job. That’s the trade-off, however, if you want your peers and bosses to understand your value, accomplishments and how you contribute to your organization. 

Here are five actionable ways to create more visibility for yourself while remaining true to who you are.  

1. Join a professional trade association

Look for a professional association relating to your career field, such as 100 Women in Finance if you work in finance, or the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) if you work in HR.

To find options relevant to your industry, search online for your job title or function followed by “professional association.”

The healthcare, management, and food preparation and serving industries are projected to have the highest percentage of jobs added over the 2021-2031 period, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). If you belong to or are entering any of these industries, joining a related trade association could help you tap into emerging opportunities.

One ancillary opportunity is visibility. Rush recommends emailing your professional trade association newsletter to your work team to increase your visibility.

“Let’s say the newsletter has an article focused on a problem your team faces, such as best practices to solve work-group issues. Sharing these innovative ideas with your team is a way to increase your visibility and project your value,” Rush explains.

Your team will start seeing you as a leader and know you go the extra mile to keep up with the trends. 

2. Get your voice heard in meetings

Push yourself to say more in meetings and learn to become an engaging speaker; it’s a great way to increase your visibility and demonstrate your knowledge within your team or department or to top management. 

Don’t feel ready to speak up during a meeting? To boost your confidence, read the agenda beforehand and consider the questions or points you want to raise. This will help you feel more prepared and ready to contribute. 

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3. Look for problems to solve within your company

People who advance in their careers at large corporations often don’t shy away from opportunities to take the initiative.

By proactively solving problems, you demonstrate competence, resourcefulness and an ability to handle challenges. This can naturally lead to being entrusted with additional responsibilities or possibly even being considered for leadership roles down the road.

“Lead a project group to solve a problem,” Rush suggests. “Once the problem is solved, create a report on the value derived from solving it and send it to the top executives directly or through your boss at your request.” 

4. Be seen as an expert

Establish yourself as an authority within your organization. Expertise carries influential power and can attract captivating work assignments and opportunities, ultimately enhancing your visibility.

To begin, select a specific area to demonstrate your expertise. It could be handling dissatisfied customers or priority management. Choose an area of work that interests you and that you’re knowledgeable about. 

To further elevate your presence, actively share what you know. For instance, consider blogging for your organization or contributing to a newsletter. Another approach could be offering training sessions or delivering presentations at company events. Whatever the format, the goal is to showcase your expertise in the chosen area. 

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5. Grow your network

Invest time and effort toward developing and nurturing connections. Establish a robust alliance of individuals who can help you secure important or attention-grabbing projects and unlock opportunities.

While your close colleagues can act as advocates, it is crucial to expand your personal support network. Adopt a strategic approach. Document your networking goals and identify the most effective way of connecting with individuals you wish to establish relationships with. Try to forge connections outside your organization and explore ways to interlink your contacts with one another.

Standing out to be future-ready 

In a world full of talented people chasing top roles, those who make themselves more visible and demonstrate their value naturally stand out. A point made in a U.S. Department of Labor report from years ago remains relevant today: It said that while most of the fastest-growing jobs would require a college degree, many newly created jobs would require knowledge beyond that gained from a degree.

Making yourself visible by showcasing your unique knowledge and skills can be a way to stand out for the best roles. 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kaleigh Moore is a full-time freelance writer and consultant specializing in business and software. Her work has appeared in Forbes, Vogue Business, Fast Company, Inc., Entrepreneur and elsewhere. She is also a frequent speaker at conferences and universities and co-hosts a podcast on running a freelance writing business.

 

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