Entering the workforce is often considered a right of passage. It’s a time to start fresh, learn new things and grow as a person. For many young people, it’s also the first time they’ve been held accountable for their actions and are expected to conduct themselves in a certain way. While most strive to be the best at their jobs, the reality is that your colleagues are most likely talented individuals just like you. So how do you set yourself apart in a field of equal talent and job specific capability? This article will explore ten ways to stand out in the workplace without relying on any natural talent or ability. Being personable and focused on others can create a winning impression that will serve you well throughout your career.
Be On Time
This one seems like a no-brainer, but punctuality is essential to making a good impression at work. Not only does it show that you respect your colleagues’ time, but it also indicates that you’re reliable and can be counted on to do your part.
Arriving ten minutes early won’t necessarily score you any bonus points, but it’s better than being even a minute late. In the off-chance that you can’t make it to work on time, be sure to call your boss or supervisor and let them know as soon as possible.
If you regularly have trouble getting to work on time, set your alarm clock ten minutes earlier than usual or try to go to bed earlier the night before. You might also want to map your commute beforehand to avoid traffic delays.
Ask Relevant Questions
Asking questions is a great way to show that you’re engaged in what’s going on around you. But be careful not to overdo it – no one wants to be bombarded with questions all day long.
Try to ask questions that are relevant to the conversation and add value to the discussion. For example, if your boss is talking about a new project, you could ask about your specific role or how you can help.
If you plan to stay at your current job long-term, you must show that you’re willing to grow with the company. Asking questions shows that you’re curious about the inner workings of the company and ready to learn new things.
This is an important quality in any employee and will help you stand out from those who are content to coast along without challenging themselves.
While asking questions is essential, you must know when to listen. You should never interrupt someone when they’re speaking, even if you think you have a better solution to the problem or a question that needs to be answered. Let the other person finish what they’re saying before you start talking.
Listening also involves paying attention to non-verbal cues, such as body language and tone of voice. This can give you a better understanding of the other person’s feelings and what they’re trying to say.
Make Eye Contact
When you’re talking to someone, be sure to maintain eye contact. It shows that you’re interested in what the other person says and paying attention to them. It can also make you seem more trustworthy and sincere. Studies show that keeping eye contact also evokes a positive reaction from the listening party.
Some people find it tough to know how much eye contact to make, as too much can come across as creepy or intense. A good rule of thumb is maintaining eye contact for 50-60% of the discussion. Depending on the seriousness of the conversation, you may want to keep eye contact for a longer or shorter period.
Provide Value First
In any interaction, you should always try to provide value first. Whether you’re networking with a potential client or discussing with your manager, always think about what you can do for the other person. Instead of thinking about what you can get out of the situation, focus on how you can help.
Note that you shouldn’t give away your services for free or do other people’s jobs for them. But if you’re focused on providing value, it will come across in your interactions and make you seem like a valuable asset to the company.
Demonstrate Positivity and Gratitude
Next, try to remain positive and grateful at work, even if you feel stressed or undervalued. Complaining about your workload or griping about the company’s policies might earn you the title of “negative Nancy,” which is not the kind of reputation you want.
Instead, try to find the silver lining in every situation and be grateful for what you have. This doesn’t mean you should be a doormat – if you’re being mistreated, you should definitely speak up! But understand that any job has challenges, and it’s up to you to remain positive in most situations.
Positivity and gratitude are also contagious, so if you can remain positive at work, it will rub off on those around you. Ultimately, this can create a more enjoyable work environment for everyone and make you stand out as a leader.
Have a Strong Work Ethic
A famous basketball coach named Tim Notke once said, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”
A strong work ethic can take you far even if you’re not the most talented person in your field. This is true in any career – if you’re willing to bring consistent energy and effort, you’ll always be ahead of those who rely on talent alone.
What does that entail? You should always give your best effort, even when you don’t feel like it. It means being reliable and meeting deadlines. It means constantly trying to find new and better ways to do things. Essentially, a strong work ethic shows that you’re dedicated to your job and the company you work for.
Exercise Communication Skills
Effective communication is essential in the workplace. A good team player can clearly convey their thoughts and ideas, whether writing an email or giving a presentation. It also includes active listening, as we discussed earlier.
If you can improve your communication skills, it will make you a more valuable asset to any company. People with strong communication skills are often seen as leaders, even if they don’t have an official position of authority. People will start coming to you with their problems and ideas because they know you’ll be able to help them.
Even if you tick all of the other boxes on this list, there’s one quality that can make or break your career – coachability. If you’re not coachable, it will be difficult for you to improve and advance your career.
Coachability is the quality of being willing to accept feedback and criticism. You might think you’re the best at what you do, but there’s always room for improvement. When someone offers constructive criticism, don’t get defensive – try to see it from their perspective and use it to improve your work.
Being coachable also means being open to new ideas. Just because you’ve been doing something a certain way for years doesn’t mean it’s the best way. Be open to trying new things, even if they initially seem counter-intuitive. You might be surprised by how well they work out.
Finally, one of the most important things you can do to stand out in the workplace is to show passion for your job. Ideally, you should try to find a career you’re passionate about, but that’s not always possible. Even if you didn’t clinch your dream job, you could still find ways to enjoy it and show your passion.
Try to isolate what you do like about your job. Maybe you enjoy the challenge of problem-solving or the satisfaction of completing a project. Whatever it is, focus on those things and let them drive you. When you show passion for your work, it’s impossible to hide. People will take notice and be drawn to you because of your positive attitude.
Bonus: Go The Extra Mile
Before you return to work, we have one bonus tip: always go the extra mile. This applies to everything from your work to your relationships with co-workers. Try to do things above and beyond what’s expected of you. Now, that’s not to say you should be working 24/7 – you still need to have a life outside of work.
But if your current task is to create a presentation, for example, don’t just stop at the bare minimum. And definitely don’t cut corners. Find ways to make it more engaging or visually appealing. If you’re tasked with writing a report, see if there’s any additional research you can do to make it more comprehensive.
The same goes for your relationships with co-workers. It most likely isn’t in your job description to be everyone’s best friend, but if you can build positive relationships with the people you work with, it will make your work life much more enjoyable.
If this list seems daunting, don’t worry – you don’t have to implement all of these tips overnight. Just pick one or two elements to focus on and work on them little by little. Over time, you’ll start to stand out in your workplace in a positive way.
For further learning on how to be most effective within your workplace, check out our classes on Business and Workplace Skills.