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The other benefit to constantly working to improve your skills and your overall marketability is that your employer may suddenly perceive you as more valuable. People tend to find others who are aggressive about going after their career goals attractive and more capable than people who seem to be content with their current station in life.
2. Aim to work on projects that are very important to success of company/organization. If you're working on projects that don't really matter to big brass, you won't get noticed. You might not always have a choice. But if you find yourself in a meeting and projects are being given out, and you could at that point recommend yourself for a project that would have more of an immediate impact on company's bottom line or other success factor, that project would be preferable. The big brass at your company are more interested in getting to know people who are working on critical projects than people who are working in areas that are not on their radar screen.
3. Look for ways to get recognized by important people. For example, volunteering to give a presentation or working on a special project. If there are no special projects available, consider suggesting one yourself. Ideally you want this to be a project that would involve making a presentation or getting yourself other exposure that higher-ups will notice. It could also be spearheading a company-wide or department-wide initiative to improve quality, sales, etc. Or sharing a technique you learned at a seminar or class that others could benefit from.
4. Determine metrics for measuring your effectiveness. Aim to exceed expectations. Most likely, you will need to talk to your boss to determine what these metrics should be. Just fact that you initiate a conversation with your boss about this will make you come across as a high-performing and valuable employee. If metrics are established ahead of time, there will be an objective way to measure your performance. You may also be able to get your boss to agree to set your bonus and/or raise based on how well metrics are achieved.
5. Always keep your options open. One of most important principles is you never want to get into a position where you're dependent on your job. If you have other options, you will be more confident at work and that confidence will shine through in your interactions with other people. In scenario J.S. wrote about, his co-worker most likely has other options - or else she wouldn't be coming in late every day. One way to keep your options open is by posting your resume on job sites confidentially. Using PutMyResumeOnline.com service is one effective way to post your resume without revealing your name or contact information.
Scott Brown is the author of the Job Search Handbook (http://www.JobSearchHandbook.com). As editor of the HireSites.com weekly newsletter on job searching, Scott has written many articles on the subject. He wrote the Job Search Handbook to provide job seekers with a complete yet easy to use guide to finding a job effectively.