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How to get noticed at work

There's an episode of Seinfeld where the George Costanza character locks his keys in his car, which is parked at the Yankees headquarters where he works.

The car stays parked there for days, which makes George's bosses think he is working extra long hours. They think he is getting there first in the morning and leaving last at night, and tell him they are considering giving him a promotion because of his great work ethic.

George continues leaving his car there in a bid to perpetuate the myth that he is working very long hours.

It all goes pear-shaped when pigeons start using the car as a roost and poo all over it, setting in motion a series of events that lead George's bosses to think he is dead.

Needless to say he misses out on his promotion.

Most people want employers to recognise their contributions at work in the hope it will advance their careers. As George discovered, though, there are no short-cuts.

There are better strategies to achieve the recognition - and promotion- you deserve than leaving your car parked in a conspicuous spot.

Here are five things you can do to get noticed at work:

Be an all-rounder

I once worked with a man who had a simple motto when it came to his career.

"Learn one new thing every day" was his creed, and he did.

When new technology started changing our workplace, he mastered it before anyone else so that his co-workers - including his bosses - would seek out his assistance.

He also put his hand up to fill in for colleagues when they were on leave so that he could learn different aspects of the business.

While he was acquiring all this expertise he was simultaneously generous with the knowledge he was gaining, helping his colleagues solve problems in areas outside the boundaries of his job description. He did this with genuine enthusiasm and not a hint of self-serving office politics.

The reward for his efforts to "learn one new thing every day" was rapid promotion and an outstanding career. He was no smarter than anyone else, just fully engaged and willing to go beyond what was required of him.

His experience is a great example to follow if you seek advancement regardless of the type of work you do.

Be up for a challenge

Complacency breeds inertia which will get you nowhere.

By continually challenging yourself - and your colleagues - in the workplace you will not only get noticed but you will have a more stimulating working experience because you are actively investing in it.

Challenge in this context means striving to do better. Challenge yourself to take on new tasks, and challenge your colleagues to look at doing things a different way. Agitating for excellence in yourself and those around you is leadership, and nothing will get you noticed quicker than voluntarily displaying leadership.

It boils down to not being afraid to speak up when you have something constructive to say, and doing so with respect for others' input.

Upgrade your qualifications

If you invest in yourself, chances are your boss will invest in you too. By acquiring new skills and qualifications which are relevant to the work you do, it tells your employer you are serious about your career and willing to stretch yourself to achieve your goals.

Gone are the days when employees could count on a pay rise or promotion because of time served. Modern workplaces strive to be lean and competitive, and you are not going to get a salary increase or a step-up in responsibility unless you have something new to offer beyond what you were originally hired for.

Completing further education is one of the best ways to do this, and there has never been a better time to give it a go.

The convenience of the internet coupled with flexible learning environments means even people with demanding full-time jobs and family commitments can accommodate higher learning at their own pace.

Griffith University, for example, operates a trimester system that enables students to pcae their studies to fit with other commitments, giving them the option of doing more when time permits or scale back when the calendar gets crowded.

Depending on what degree you choose, you may be able to study online, on-campus or a combination of both.

Apart from gaining new qualifications, showing your employer that you managed to earn a degree while still performing well at your job is a powerful signal to send.

Harness the brainpower

Two heads are better than one, right? But utilising a forum full of smart people to help solve a problem could be even better.

A sure-fire way to impress your supervisors would be to present to them possible solutions to a workplace problem that you have come up with independently. Applying the new skills being picked up at university to practical situations at your workplace is not only a great way to help you learn, it could prove extremely useful to your career enhancement.

And by presenting real-world problems for discussion in tutorials or other student forums, you get to tap into the thinking of other bright people who can look at the situation from completely different aspects.

Be yourself

Sounds simple, doesn't it? But you'd be surprised how many people leave their sense of self at home when they go to work.

They adopt a different persona in a misguided attempt to stand out, or fit in.

This is a mistake. Successful enterprises thrive on diversity and the best bosses understand that having a range of personalities and lived experiences in the workforce creates resilience and leads to better problem-solving.

Stick to your ethics, don't get involved in office politics and just concentrate on being the best performer you can be. Operating with integrity is a reward in itself.



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