By Hannah Morgan
You are working your tail to the bone with long hours and maximum effort, to no avail. Maybe this is the root of the problem. If you are working hard in seclusion, you have probably fallen of the radar. To achieve your true goal of rising in the organization and getting a raise, you have to do great work, and people have to know you've done it. Here are five things you can do to help propel your career.
Gain visibility. Visibility is vital to becoming the kind of person who gets promotions, raises and access to opportunities, according to Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor at Stanford's Graduate School of Business. As easy as this sounds, it is often difficult to put into action. Many people think talking about their own successes is bragging. Actually, it's about taking credit where credit is due.
Even well-meaning managers have difficulty tracking the team's individual achievements. It isn't that they don't want to notice – it's that they lack time due to a demanding workload, managing crises and conflicting priorities. Make it easy for your manager to keep tabs on you by sending a weekly or monthly email update. State what you accomplished in objective, measurable terms, and always try to tie your achievements to organizational goals or how they benefit the bottom line.
Get seen. Working long hours and coming in early doesn't earn you brownie points, especially if no one knows. If you must work overtime, consider choosing a time of day your manager is around. For example, if your manager is an early bird, plan to arrive early in the day. You may even want to swing by your manager's office and say a quick good morning.
Taking on a highly visible project is another way to gain exposure. Look for opportunities to take on an assignment that holds potential for visibility, such as working on a new product or service, revamping a process that affects the company or even contributing to a company-sponsored community service project.
Get heard. The next time you attend a meeting or event and are asked to introduce yourself, be sure you have a solid pitch. Don't just state your name and title. Go one step further and add something you are proud of achieving or include a mini testimonial. For example: "My name is Jane Doe, and I'm in the sales support division. My team says I'm the one who makes their lives easier."
If you have difficulty speaking up or broadcasting your achievements, enlist the help of teammates or colleagues. Your peers know you and how you work. Ask if they would be willing to help talk up your strengths. Reciprocating this favor is a wise career move that will not go unnoticed.
Start keeping track. Beginning today, track your achievements using a simple grid. Label three columns: task/goal, actions and results.
Task/goal is the project or assignment you were given or you proactively took on. For example: "Collect articles and information for monthly newsletter to share with employees."
The actions column identifies the steps you took or the things you did to accomplish your task or goal. Here is an example of how to summarize actions:
Determine articles, contests, news for content
Request information from necessary divisions
Edit, format and gain approval
Distribute to intranet and distribute hard copies to senior management
The third column, results, contains the outcome of your actions. For example: "Communicated company news and events to build community among 2,500 employees across four locations on a monthly basis." Whenever possible, incorporate quantitative results.
Organization pays off. If you have a performance evaluation on the horizon, your manager may ask you to submit a list of projects you've been working on or complete a form outlining your accomplishments. Gather the information and try to remember everything you did over the year, which can be time-consuming if you haven't been keeping good records. You may even forget about some successes you had earlier in the year.
Regularly use this easy system to communicate your achievements when you check in with your manager, prepare for your performance evaluation and update your résumé.
Hannah Morgan writes and speaks on career topics and job search trends on her blog, Career Sherpa. She co-authored "Social Networking for Business Success," and has developed and delivered programs to help job seekers understand how to look for work better.