How to Stand Out at Work and Get That Promotion You Deserve

The most important asset you have is yourself. Because of that, you should be focusing on doing the best job you can at your current job. Work as hard and efficiently as possible. Get more work done, be noticed. It’s a competitive world out there and you should be thinking about how you can stand out. An investment in your career is the biggest payoff you can make so you should be working toward earning a promotion and a raise. But how do you stand out at work exactly? You can work longer, you can do more work, but you can still be unnoticed.  Here are 10 tips to help you stand out and get that promotion you deserve.

1) Make your boss look good

If your boss looks good, you look good. You want to make yourself as valuable as possible and the best way to do that is to do what you can to help your boss. This means being proactive and seeing what they need. Ask yourself, “What can I do to make their job easier?” If it’s beyond your job description even better. It shows initiative and demonstrates the willingness to go above and beyond.  If nothing comes to mind ask your boss directly if there’s anything else you can do. And if you are asked to do something outside your job description, the last thing you want to say is “that’s not my job.” Good luck getting a promotion if that behavior continues on a regularly.  

2) Think about what you can do for your company

Similar to the first point, and along the lines of John F. Kennedy’s famous quote “Ask not what  your country can do for you- ask what you can do for your country” think about what you can do for your company. If there is nothing in your department or your boss has no extra tasks for you to perform, think bigger. Be observant of your surroundings at work and see if there’s anything within your skill set that can provide value to the company. If others start noticing you, they may start positively talking about you and eventually, it gets back to your boss, setting you up for a positive review.

3) Avoid gossiping

Working in an office environment is like high school; word gets around. You never know what may come back to haunt you so be careful with what you say when it comes to speaking about others. Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain about other people. Even if it’s to someone in confidentiality, the fact that you’re speaking negatively about another person may cause them to wonder if you speak negatively behind their back as well. Just don’t do it.

4) Be genuinely interested in other people

It’s not enough to work hard to get ahead at your job. Take the time to get to know your co-workers including your manager or boss. The soft skills go a long way. This does not mean you need to suck-up or be a teachers’ pet. It means being genuinely interested in them and can be as simple as asking them “how was your day?” or stopping by their office to chat randomly. Encourage others to talk about themselves. Setting up drinks after work or showing initiative and organizing a team-building event can go a long way too.

5) Admit to your mistakes, learn from them, and move on

Everyone makes mistakes, it’s how you respond to them that makes you stand out. When you do make a mistake admit it quickly and emphatically. If it was because you didn’t fully understand something, ask for clarification. It’s easy to beat yourself up over a mistake but it’s all part of the learning experience. The key is to learn from them and move on. The last thing you want to do is to instead be defensive and blame others. Take responsibility for your actions and take ownership.

6) Be yourself

This sounds corny but it’s true. Being too professional can be detrimental to your success at work. What comes across your mind when you come across a slick used car salesman? Do you want that to be your image? They are trying to be something to everyone. Being too slick, too professional, can cause people to trust you less. People like spending time with relatable people and the best way to be relatable is to show more of your personality.

7) Have an opinion

Whether right or wrong, have an opinion. Do not be afraid of speaking up in a meeting. It shows confidence. If you’re analyzing something, give a recommendation to your boss at the end of the email and ask for his or her thoughts. Even if they don’t agree with you, at least they know you’re thinking.

8) Have open and honest conversations with your boss about your goals

It’s important to talk to your boss about your professional ambitions regularly so they can help you get there. Ideally, you want to start having these talks at least six months to a year before another role or promotion comes up so that you have time to get yourself in a position to be considered. Usually, the next position in a company is already decided well in advance so it’s important to know what you need to do to be a candidate. If you don’t already meet regularly, set some time in their calendar and try to meet at least quarterly to see how things are going and what you can do to improve.

9) Communicate in person

Often it’s easier to communicate over emails or online chat at work, but if you can, try to communicate in person. It’ll add that personal touch and help you get to know your co-workers who may eventually be an advocate for you to get that promotion you deserve.

10) Volunteer

Sign up for volunteer events with your office. Serve on committees, and take on leadership roles. The best way to stand out is to be seen, build relationships, and contribute. The more chances you have to show off your skills and personality, the more people get to know you and like you. Equally as important is to volunteer for organizations outside of your job. Not only are you giving back to your community, but you’re also representing your company in your community, demonstrating that you care and showing off your leadership skills.


Standing out at work is a skill but one that can be learned. Hopefully using the above advice helps you get there faster. While having a side hustle and saving money are important to meet your financial goals, your career is your number one financial asset so care for it accordingly. Know that even receiving a $5,000 raise or the equivalent in a promotion can be worth over $500,000 if invested in the stock market over 30 years so work hard on your career and it will pay dividends in the future.

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