Whether you're just out of school or a seasoned pro, starting at a new company can be hard. It's all too easy to put your head down and focus on doing your job the best you possibly can.
The problem is that this will never be enough to get you noticed. Not only must you do your job well, but you also need to think about how to be a good citizen of the "community" – yes, think of your company as a community – or a society. How can you help it get ahead? Look around – what does your company need? What are the large and small things that no one is picking up?
Fortunately, there are some ways you can earn favorable recognition that not only aren't that difficult but that you may find enjoyable. Think of the following through the lens of some timeless, philosophical quotes:
"The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing." – Socrates
Ask as many questions as you can when you first start a new job. This one seems simple enough, but so many people forget to do this, or are nervous about speaking up.
Whether you think you're supposed to already know the answer, or you don't want to be "annoying," force yourself to ask. Even experts admit that they're always looking for new approaches and ideas. The constant pursuit of knowledge is what keeps our industry forging forward: plus it shows that you care.
"A positive attitude will lead to positive outcomes." – Carson Kolhoff
Being known as the person with a cheerful attitude will always pay dividends. Always. Try to be that person as much as possible. Energy is contagious, and if your boss and your co-workers know they can rely on you to stay positive – even in stressful situations – they'll ask you to work with them more and more.
"Volunteering for tough jobs is the best way to become visible." – Bud Bilanich
There are going to be projects that no one wants to tackle, either because the work is likely to be tedious, or because success is not a sure thing. So what should you do? No question. Go for it.
And once you've jumped head first into work that no one else was willing to touch, you can be sure that you'll be at the front of the line for your bosses when plum projects come up in the future. People tend to remember those who helped them when they needed it the most.
"To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities." – Bruce Lee
You need to decide whether this is just a job or a career; there's a big difference between the two.If this is just a 9 to 5 for you, that's fine, but don't be upset when co-workers get promoted before you do.
And if you really want to go for it, be on the lookout for unusual, not-my-job opportunities:
Is there an awards contest coming up? Submit for it.
Is the new business team looking for volunteers to help out on a pitch? Do it.
Have you asked your supervisor if there's anything that s/he's working on that you can handle instead? Ask now.
Does HR need volunteers for a mentor program? Sign up.
Does Marketing need help planning a big event? Or are they looking for new writers to contribute to Ad Age on Campus? You get the idea.
"We have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak." – Epictetus
How much do you know about the people sitting right next to you? Might they be involved in an industry organization you want to know more about, or do amazing volunteer work? Since you spend so much time with your seatmates anyway, why not invite them to lunch and see what you can learn?
And what do you know about your boss? Ask about his or her career path. Ask for career advice. There's a ton of knowledge and experience sitting all around you, so take advantage of it.
"There's nothing wrong with playing the game once in a while." – Dr. John "J.D." Dorian
No, I'm not suggesting that you become a brown-nosing sellout; I'm saying that it doesn't hurt to pay attention and do something that you know will please others, if you can do it and still be your authentic self.
If you know your boss likes "business casual" dress, how does it hurt you to reflect this standard in how you present yourself (and no, business casual doesn't mean jeans and a t-shirt)? Or if you're trying to make a good impression on a person who likes some cheesy TV show, why not watch it once in a while so that you have one more thing in common? None of this stuff requires you to sell your soul. Just make sure you find the line and don't go overboard.
"Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard." – Kevin Durant
This last point is a bit of a culmination of this entire article, but it may be the most important guideline of all.
Buckle down and do the work. People will notice. Be the first one in each morning. Dress nicely. Read articles about your industry in your spare time. Keep learning and growing and asking for more. Take pride in your work and others will take pride in finding new opportunities for you to shine
About the Author
Andrew Giusto is a communications planning supervisor at MediaCom in New York, currently working on MARS Chocolate brands. In this role, he manages the development of several employees as well as the strategic planning process across brands like M&M's and Dove. Previously, Andrew has worked on high-profile accounts including Coca-Cola, Kohl's Corp. and MasterCard.