Getting Noticed At Work – Beating The Odds Of Going Nowhere

Whether you are just starting a job or have been there for years there is nothing worse than feeling as though you are never going to move up.  Everyone has been in a position at one time or other where they watch those around them move into higher better paying positions with less micro management even though they were hired long after you.  The smallest things are often the largest in the eyes of the employer – things that are all too often overlooked by individuals seeking bigger and better things.  Much of this can be helped by the following:

1)      Dress the part.  You may have heard the term, “Dress for the job you want not the job you have.”  If you follow nothing else in this article, this is one of the most important things to follow.  Your appearance says more than your business card does.  If you work in the mailroom, dress better than those around you – make upper management wonder who you are among your peers.  Dressing better does not need to cost a lot.  If you are on a tight budget, buy some staple pieces to add to your wardrobe that you can mix and match.  This gives you more to work with.  Don’t be afraid to add some nice accessories that are professional in appearance. 


      Many employers provide “casual Fridays” where employees are permitted to wear jeans to work.  Think of this as an even more perfect opportunity to stand out.  If you pay very close attention, you may notice that upper management does not always participate in this.  Hair is another tough subject.  Stay away from loud un-natural colors.  Bright pink together with blond and black tell your employer “You could never trust me with one of your clients.”  Unfortunately, appearance is everything when it comes to the corporate world and you always want to look the part if not better.  The best personality and most qualified person in the world will not be able to move forward with an outrageous hairdo.  Women should always keep a neat, modern hairstyle.  Looking outdated can go against you just as much. 


      Men should always be clean shaven rather you wear a goatee or shave it all off, it is important to make sure you don’t look as though you just rolled out of bed a week late. 


      When it comes to jewelry, keep the funky piercings for after hours.  Nose, eyebrow and lip rings will not only keep you from getting hired at times, but it will also ensure that you are doing the most unexciting job around with no opportunities for growth.  We have all seen the big bangle earrings and large jewelry; keep it simple and professional.  Be sure to cover any and all tattoos.  You could have a tattoo of the name of the company you work for, but unless you work in a tattoo parlor it isn’t going to make a bit of a difference.


2)      Always do your research.  Don’t be lazy, find out more about the company you work for, not just the job you do!  No one wants to promote someone who isn’t interested in the growth of the company as a whole.  In addition, should you find yourself in a situation that requires some input on your behalf; you want to make sure you have done your homework first.


3)      Don’t be afraid to speak up.  Remember to be successful, but don’t be afraid to let your expertise and past experience help you.  There may be something you have a strong knowledge in that they don’t know about.  Make sure you do it respectfully without trying to force your ideas on everyone and always back up your ideas with facts.


4)      Never get caught goofing off.  Though your immediate supervisor may appreciate your sense of humor and allow people to get away with a lot, you never want to be seen being anything less than professional.  Don’t use your work phone for personal use EVER and leave all personal calls and texting to your assigned break time.  Again, you supervisor may not mind, but guaranteed that those higher than you will.  Never be the fool and assume that your actions are not known.  When it comes time to interview for another internal position or to be promoted, you never know who will be asked concerning your work ethic. 


5)      Plan B and C are not just for experiments.  How many times has a manager told you something like, “We all have families, so if you need to leave it’s okay” or “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that your child is sick again, take all the time you need” only to have it bite you right in your rump roast!  Though the manager may honestly mean this, in the back of their mind they are wondering how often this is going to happen.  They may even take off days at a time themselves to tend to family business, but what’s good for the goose in the business world, is never good for the gander.  Always have a backup plan for your kids getting sick, your car breaking down and possible traffic jams. 


6)      Volunteer.  Who doesn’t watch the last seconds go by until quitting time and then run, arms flailing towards the door?!  There is always a way to let management know that you will go the extra mile without kissing up! 


7)      Get Involved With Work Sponsored Events.  Often times, employers will get involved in charity events.  Make sure to make an appearance and help where needed.  More often than not, upper management is at these events and what better opportunity to get a little one-on-one time.  This allows them to get to know you on a more personal level and see you for more than just an employee number. 


8)      If you’re always early you can never be late.  Some people are religiously late and truly can’t help it.  This is the fault of nothing else except poor time management.  If you are carpooling with someone who continually makes you late, find a new carpool.  If the bus drops you off near your job only a few minutes before your start time, you need to take an earlier bus.  If you need to get your kids to daycare / school and have little time to get to work after this – look into other options.  Is there a family member you who wouldn’t mind taking them for you?  Try getting the kids ready earlier and dropping them off at a relative’s house much earlier allowing you to arrive earlier and on time. 


9)      Don’t be audibly negative.  Have you ever worked with someone who never seems to be having a good day, who is ALWAYS ready to go home, and never has one nice thing to say about their job?  Believe me everyone at your job knows exactly who this person is too.  Never EVER complain at work as you never know where this information goes once it leaves your lips.  Not to mention much of this can be mis-interpreted.  For instance – talking about a huge fight you and a boyfriend had the night before can lead someone to believe that a jealous boyfriend will be visiting you at work possibly causing trouble.  Saying out loud, “Is it time to go home yet?” even in jest can tell upper management, that you are not the person to give more responsibility and opportunities to as you already hate the job you are currently doing.  When taking personal calls, go outside to your car if available.  People can draw the wrong conclusion from your personal conversations.  If you are unable to go outdoors, find the nearest break room and speak as low as possible. 


10)   Is your workspace a pigsty?  There is nothing worse than working alongside someone who keeps filthy surroundings.  Make sure you continually throw away garbage and things you don’t need.  Never let bottles and cans grow into a collection and keep files organized and neat.  Think about it, would you give something incredibly important to someone you know may lose it in the disaster they call a desk?  Absolutely not! 


Ultimately, getting the job is the first step.  Once you have the job, don’t get too relaxed by looking like a bum, forgetting to groom yourself, and being too quiet or too loud for your own good.  Good habits are hard to break just as bad ones are and if you begin this way your chances of success are multiplied.  Keep in mind when working at a place where there are little to no growth opportunities, i.e.  an office with about 10 people working in total, fast food etc... then all of these will not apply to you.  Keep in mind, there is always a way to be better, to get noticed and climb to the top but it must be something you as an individual take responsibility for as corner offices are not falling out of the sky these days. 


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K9keystrokes 6 years ago from Northern, California

fantastic information. In the current times, this is sage advice many could benefit from! Thank you for taking on a touchy topic. Good work here.

Penny Lathord 6 years ago

I rarely make comments, but this touched upon things I'm now ashamed to say I've done! Now that I'm reading it, I can see exactly what I need to change about me.

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