We’ve written a lot on our blog about how hiring managers can attract and retain top talent. It’s high time we wrote to jobseekers and employees about a similar topic, i.e. how to add value and demonstrate that value in your company.
Today’s blog is covering a similar topic to our previous blogs about how hiring managers can attract and retain top talent in their companies…except this time we’re turning the tables a bit and writing to employees and jobseekers–the top talent–about how you can contribute and prove your value to your supervisors.
Below is a list (which is by no means exhaustive) of things you can do to stand out to your current or future employer and get them to recognize the value that you bring to the company.
- Go above and beyond your job description. You’ve probably heard this somewhat trite expression before, but it’s repeated a lot for a reason. Professional accolades–in the form of company-wide recognition, merit-based raises, promotions, and more–aren’t typically the result of doing your job; they’re the result of doing more than what is asked of you. Demonstrate your commitment to learning and moving your company forward by asking to be put in charge of projects that no one else wants. Offer to help colleagues with a task. Fix a problem in the office that’s bugging everyone, but no one is doing anything to solve, ex. straighten or file a messy stack of papers, clean out the fridge, organize an after-work or weekend volunteer event, etc.
- Send your boss a summary of what you accomplished at the end of the week. At the end of every day, write a few bullet points of what you did. By the end of the week, you’ll have a nice collection of points that you can polish and send to your boss. Doing this will demonstrate that you’re concerned about proving your value, that you can stay on task, and that you take regular action to complete projects. At a previous job, I was told that my boss views receiving a day- or week-end summary of my work similarly to getting flowers.
- Get to know all of your coworkers. Make a point to interact with everyone in your company, even those with whom you don’t work directly. Schedule lunch dates, visit their office, attend company happy hours, etc. The more relationships you can cultivate in your company, the more you’ll be seen as a reliable and trustworthy team player, which is the exact type of person your boss wants in the company for the long haul. Bonus: The more relationships you can cultivate can also ensure that you’ll have folks in your corner if and when you need them. Been in your company for years and already know everyone? Focus on strengthening those relationships. Schedule a lunch or mid-day walk with folks with whom you haven’t talked for a while. New hires in the office? Go out of your way to make them feel welcome.
- Go in early one day a week. We’re not advocating that you upset your work-life balance or prove your value by endangering your physical, mental, or emotional health. But getting into the office 20-30 minutes earlier once a week allows you to tackle menial tasks that probably distract you from more important work during the rest of the day. Take this quiet, uninterrupted office time to respond to emails, organize your desk, update your ToDo list, etc. Once those things are out of the way, you’re in a better mental state to tackle your high priority tasks.
- Give yourself more time than you think it will take you to complete a task. There’s no worse feeling than having to tell someone you’re going to be late on submitting a project, or beginning all of your emails with, “I apologize for the delay.” If you tell someone you’re going to email him/her later in the day, do it. If you say that you can finish a task by a certain date, do it. If you find that you keep missing deadlines or people have to follow up with you regularly, it’s time to give yourself more time to complete tasks. Try adding an extra day to your time estimations. For example, tell your coworkers you’ll email them no later than tomorrow, instead of today. That gives you some extra breathing room. Plus if you’re able to email them today, you’ll look even more conscientious because you’re early. The more your coworkers and supervisors can trust you to complete tasks on time (or even early), the more you’ll stand out and demonstrate your value.
- Improve processes. Look around your office and review your daily work tasks to find ways to save yourself and your company time, money, and stress. For example, if an email exchange about a project is getting too long and wieldy, propose that your company use a simple project management system. Bonus points if you present your boss with a few options and do the preliminary work of getting quotes from software companies. Or if your meetings tend to be long and disorganized, propose the idea of using an agenda. Present your boss and/or coworkers with possible formats. When you’re faced with a challenge or annoyance, finding a solution will make your company view you as a problem-solver, an indispensable go-to expert.
There are plenty of ways to stand out to your boss and demonstrate the value that you uniquely bring to the company. The list above gives you a few ideas that you can implement right away, without requiring you to alter your workday too much or exert much more effort in your job. While these actions may seem simple, do not underestimate their power to help you take your career to the next level.