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How to stand out in any stage of your career

Written by: Thea Watson, Marketing Director of Hays UK & I and UK Board member
Published on: 10 Jun 2019

Whether you’re trying to progress as part of a large team or one of many applicants chasing a new role, trying to set yourself apart from others can often be difficult. Here are five tips to make sure your hard work and talent does not go unnoticed: 

1. Stand out from the crowd 

From my perspective, achieving this comes down to two things: 

First, you have to understand the commercials. No matter what sector you’re working in, you need to understand the business and how your role can make an impact on the organisation. This will definitely set you apart and will guarantee that your employer recognises you. 

Secondly, it might sound obvious, but combining hard work with productivity is essential. Anyone can work for 12 hours a day, but if it’s not productive work then it will not go a long way. However, if you can demonstrate work with purpose, it will show your employer that you are committed to the role and that you will go above and beyond to achieve your goals. 

Running alongside these two things you should have a career plan. You should be able to communicate to your manager of what you want your next steps to be, where your passions lie and what you think you can bring to the table. 

2. Communicate with your manager (and not just the good stuff) 

You need to have an open dialogue and talk regularly with your boss, and during this you need to be able to share the good, the bad and the ugly. For example, if you’re sharing something that went well but also contained a lesson for next time, then say so. Your manager will see you trying to make the best out of any situation, plus you’ve created an open forum to talk about your achievements. 

By keeping your employer informed about your journey, they will be more willing to listen and be open in giving you the praise that you deserve. If you’re open to talking about what’s not going well and what you’re learning from, then you demonstrate awareness that failure could also be the key to your success

3. Find a mentor 

Mentorship within a workplace can be invaluable. They can be more objective about your career beyond the organisation and help you see the bigger picture (something that your boss wouldn’t always consider doing as they see things more from an organisational perspective). 

It is important to have someone you admire and look up to as a mentor; they may have more experience than you as well as a great network. But the main thing to look out for is that you see them as your trusted advisor. Your mentor should be able to give career advice and help along your career path. They can help you make the right decisions and sense-check things, but you can only achieve that if you genuinely trust them. 

4. Discussing your career path 

Meetings like these are always tough, especially earlier on in your career. But having these regular conversations about your personal development is a major factor in moving up the career ladder. 

Your boss may have already scheduled quarterly review meetings, but they are typically always dropping hints along the way too. You need to be able to demonstrate that you are proactively listening to this feedback, capturing pieces of information, taking it on board and putting into action. 

It’s about being clear and open outside of your formal development meetings. The chances are if you’re good, they’ll want to keep you, but they aren’t mind readers! If they know what you want (and it ties in with how they want you to contribute) then they can help you through that journey. 

5. Continuous learning keeps you ahead of the game 

You should always keep yourself and your profile up to date, whether it’s on your social media or just a case of updating your CV with new skills and projects. Step one of course is to take full ownership and accountability of everything you are working on and ensure your contribution is meaningful. But then you need to keep your profile updated as you go, otherwise you can’t demonstrate this ownership in the future. The key is to be objective and transparent through your career, take your learns as improvement and progression. 

You can be really open as you do this – a lot of people use their social presence to write about activity and learns from their own careers. This makes great content as everyone can relate to a story about learning. The more you can absorb and then apply, the more your employer will have a connection to relate back to your hard work and ensure it doesn’t go unnoticed. 

A final point to end on (and perhaps the toughest of them all) is to be transparent about moving on. If your job search is getting to a point where it is becoming noticeable, then you should have an honest conversation with your manager and let them know that you’re no longer happy there. But this isn’t always a bad thing; sometimes letting your employer know how you feel can become a new opportunity for you, either within a new team or by amending your current remit. 

Listen to my podcast for more insight:  

If you are looking for support with your employment needs please contact your local office

About this author 

Thea is responsible for the UK & I marketing team as well as driving the strategic direction of the marketing function, looking closely at opportunities for growth, positioning in the marketplace and sales support. She was appointed to the Hays UK & I Board in July 2017, following joining the UK business in the summer of 2016. 

Prior to her current role she was the Vice President of Marketing for the Hays Americas business, joining the business in 2012. Under her management she built the marketing function from general support to a strategic driver of sales, establishing a central marketing unit supporting Canada, US and four Latin American countries.