Fair or not, many decisions that impact your career are made behind closed doors by senior leaders who know what opportunities are on the horizon. They’re considering who to promote into the soon-to-be-vacant VP role, who should lead the new global product line and who will be selected as the client manager for the major deal they’re on the cusp of closing.
We like to believe that these decisions are made through a systematic vetting process, but the truth is, the executives in the room are sharing what they know about their team members and making recommendations for who should be selected for these plum roles. And once their plan is set in motion, it can be hard to undo. Worse, it can create a ripple effect over time. If you get overlooked for a visible assignment, chances are you’ll get overlooked for the next one too, since you’re not building your professional portfolio.
Here’s how to increase your visibility:
- Measure your impact. Even if you’re in a role that doesn’t lend itself to clear results like Sales, it’s still important to show how your work positively impacts the bottom line. There are ways to quantify many of your contributions if you give it some thought. Consider the projects you oversee, clients you manage, meetings you attend, reports you produce, presentations you give, appointments you schedule, calls you take, problems you resolve and ideas you contribute. Follow the trail to how these activities provide value to the organization and track your monthly impact.
- Share your accomplishments and results. If you’re already tracking your impact, the next step is ensuring that others are aware. You may believe your boss knows what you do each day, but in reality, he or she has their own tasks and problems and isn’t likely as attuned as you might think. Don’t wait until your annual performance review to share your work – it may be too late. Instead, schedule a monthly check in meeting with your boss, or ask for two minutes on the regular staff meeting agenda to provide an update. If you feel uncomfortable, remember that status reports can be presented as informational – a way to keep your department updated on what’s happening on your team or projects.
- Promote your team. Another great strategy to increasing visibility is promoting the visibility of others. Congratulate your colleagues on work well done, and thank them for their help. Do this in team meetings, or if appropriate, send a quick email to their manager sharing how much you appreciated the input. If your company has an award program, use it to boost others. Before long, you may create a culture of recognition, which comes back around to promote you, too!
- Raise your hand. When you approach work with a career mentality, you recognize that getting involved with projects that fall outside of your job description will not only help the company, but will also help you. Look for projects that call for cross-collaboration with other departments or that expose you to other leaders in the organization. Can’t find one? Take initiative to solve a problem in the office (a former colleague started a fundraiser to purchase an extra microwave in the lunch room to circumvent the noon back-log!). Getting noticed by other departments is a good way to ensure your name comes up for future opportunities.
- Show up. Part of increasing your visibility includes getting to know people outside of your regular insiders. Attending company events, participating in committees or volunteer efforts, and initiating meetings with people on other teams increases the information that flows your way. Many careers have been made through casual conversations at happy hour or a random comment over lunch. It also means that more people know about you, and can recommend you for the roles that open up down the road. If you’re a remote employee, get to the office a few times each year and make the most of your time by pre-scheduling in person meetings with your colleagues.
- Plant the seed. Your manager can’t read your mind, and in all reality, that’s a positive thing. To land the opportunities you want, you have to make your goals known to others. Otherwise, they may assume you’re content, or create plans for your future that aren’t aligned with your interests. Don’t wait until your annual review to share your ideas. Your manager has access to information that you don’t, and you may be surprised at what doors open up just for asking.
If you’ve been keeping your head down and maintaining the status quo, now is the time to step up and show others what you’re capable of. Don’t assume others are noticing the efforts you’re putting forth. You may believe you’re doing your career a favor by blending in, but being visible and engaged is the key to landing the opportunities that you want.
Reposted from: Forbes.com