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This story originally appeared on DollarSprout.
Once you've received a call back, completed your interview, and received a job offer, the pressure may ease off. But your performance now serves as an in-depth interview for the job you want next year, or even five or ten years from now.
Not all companies are breakneck, but in some ways, you usually compete with your employees whether it's a promotion, a raise, or an election.
To ensure that you are high on your boss's list of these, you want to stand out from the crowd at work. While some people are naturally noticeable, it is not always their best qualities. You want to be known for a job well done, but knowing what managers are looking for in a qualified employee can be difficult.
How do you strike a balance between wanting to do your best without looking like a fool? Here's advice from 10 CEOs on how to stand out at work.
1. Take the time to understand office culture.
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What is fun in one job may be considered inappropriate in another. Moving from a comedy writer's room to an accounting firm may require adjustments to your wardrobe, attitude, and vocabulary. Not every step is that extreme, but even with the same jobs, cultures vary.
"You may have been a rock star in your previous job, but the rules for earning respect will be different in your new business," said Will Ward, CEO of Assistive Listening HQ. "Once you understand how the place works, you can see how you fit in."
It may take some time to figure out the culture, but once you do it will make a huge difference in your ability to connect with your co-workers and supervisors. This, in turn, helps improve your job performance and helps you stand out.
2. Start strong right away.
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You don't have to know exactly what you are doing when you start, but you should show a sense of ownership and responsibility. Show that you are there for work by actively taking notes and studying.
"Many people start new jobs with the idea that for their first few months they will be shown the ropes and not be expected (or given) much," said Stefan Chekanov, co-founder and CEO of Brosix Instant Messenger. "By instead facing new challenges, volunteering, and generally showing a sense of responsibility for your job, you can easily stand out from the crowd."
Make sure to contact coworkers after meetings, show willingness to learn and help when needed.
3. Asking questions.
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While it may feel awkward or uncomfortable, asking questions is a great way to stand out at work.
Madison Campbell, CEO of Leda Health Company, agrees. “By asking questions,” she says, “you show your commitment to learning more about the company and how you can excel in your role. Asking questions leads to conversations that otherwise might not have taken place. "
Additionally, it will let the above people know that you really care. You seem interested, engaged, and willing to absorb information before making any suggestions. It also shows that you don't pretend you know everything but have the confidence to ask for help where you need it.
4. Advice on improving processes.
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Sometimes a company is so used to its old processes and procedures that a new employee points out how this can be done more efficiently. If you see an area for improvement, suggest it to your boss.
"One of the real signs of a leader is someone who goes out of their way to figure out which processes to optimize," said Jacob Dayan, CEO and co-founder of Community Tax.
He says that those who can provide useful feedback on the ladder (rather than just the ladder) demonstrate a basic understanding of the importance of feedback. In addition, it shows that they can spot inefficiencies.
“It's a skill that's hard to teach, so it's always something those in leadership positions notice,” says Jacob.
5. Increase your worth by improving your skills.
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As you learn something new and get faster and better at what you do, you increase your worth. Take the time to research and look for training and other ways to improve your skills.
"Don't wait for your organization to send you training or development opportunities," said Halelly Azulay, Founder and CEO of TalentGrow and author of Employee Development on a Shoestring. “It's really great when you do it,” she says, “but it's not your job to just take responsibility for the product from you. It's your job. And as you add value, you become more indispensable. "
Increasing your skills and worth also provides assistance when you ask for that increase. It shows you are worth it.
6. Help others.
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If you are only helping those higher up on the org chart, your co-workers may be clapping about you behind your back. But if you are known for helping everyone, you will earn respect.
"In this way, of course, you will always be the point of contact when a problem has to be solved," says Reuben Yonatan, founder and CEO of GetVoIP.
For example, if you master a skill like Excel formulas and an employee is having problems, offer to help. They will remember how you gave some of your time to make their life easier, and it won't seem strange if you do it for the boss too.
7. Don't be afraid to argue productively.
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Arguments and disagreements at work need to happen. But you will notice how you deal with it. If you take part in these conversations in a productive and helpful manner, you can position yourself as an aspiring leader in the company.
"Early in my career, I shied away from disagreements at work because I saw it as confrontational," said Michael Alexis, CEO of TeamBuilding. "Over time, I realized that disagreements can actually promote career advancement."
This is because strong managers and leaders are used to giving and following instructions, but great leaders know their perspective is limited. When you respectfully question a status quo, you create value for the leadership team. They can help a leader think about issues they may not have thought about or point out problem areas in their plan before problems arise.
8. Be a plug.
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Managers usually notice how well you get on with your employees. You don't necessarily have to be the most sociable, but if you miss every birthday party or company outing, you can be missing out on precious face time.
Andrew Roderick, CEO of Credit Repair Companies, says, "Getting everyone involved is a great way to get noticed and instantly stand out from the crowd in a new job."
He suggests organizing events or meetings to meet your employees. They are seen as sociable and associated with fun. If you are an introvert, try having an individual coffee once a week instead of a group event.
Both are an opportunity to connect with those who could help you move forward in your company. At the very least, you will be seen as someone who gets along with coworkers and tries to get to know everyone.
9. Don't wait to learn what to do.
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When you are having an easy week tell your boss that you are ready to take on more responsibility. If you are bored with your job, let your boss know that you want to learn more by doing different tasks.
"I love hearing this from someone and it will always come to mind when I need to hire someone at a higher level," said Chanda Torrey, CEO of Gifter World. "It shows drive, ambition and a willingness to do what needs to be done."
If you're worried that your co-workers will see you as a kiss-up for asking for more work, don't. You know what your goals are, and if this helps you achieve those goals, it shouldn't matter what others think of you.
10. Be a servant leader.
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You don't have to be a manager or a leader to practice leading servants. Even as a new hire, you can work to help others.
"Our servant leaders in the company do not follow traditional leadership styles based on a culture of intimidation and threat," said Michael Hammelburger, CEO of the Bottom Line Group. "Instead, they serve others who, in turn, are more inspired to serve the entire organization."
The people who stand out as servant leaders also focus on preparing not only for success, but everyone around them. Servant leaders ensure everyone else's needs are met before their own, encourage collaboration rather than competition, and keep team attitudes positive.
It is exhausting to stand out from colleagues
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While it's easy to get to work, meet the minimum standards required for your job, and go home, it won't get you noticed. And if your goal is to someday get a raise or a promotion, or become a CEO, you won't be mediocre if you are mediocre and lazy.
Fortunately, you don't have to do anything extraordinary to thrive at work. You just need to do your job well, ask questions when necessary, communicate with your co-workers and supervisors, and support the people around you.
When you do this, your bosses will notice.
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