Becoming a memorable employee—the type of employee any boss would want to consider for an exciting project or a promotion—takes a bit more work than just focusing on meeting job expectations and working your scheduled hours. The reality is that sticking to doing what you were hired to do, although appreciated, will not be enough to help you move up to the next level at work, even if you are doing exceptional work.
I’m not claiming to be an expert on this subject, nor that I have fully mastered the list I share below; for me, it is a work in progress for sure. However, my life and work experiences have taught me that there are specific habits and soft skills that speak positively of an individual, and that, if practiced consistently, will most likely grant you the career success you are looking for.
1. Get to know your manager—
Understanding your manager’s operating style and vision for the team will help you to know how to best support him, and in my experience, the best way to learn more about your boss’ goals is by meeting with him regularly.
In our company, managers typically schedule their one-on-one quarterly meetings and weekly team meetings with their employees. However, there is also an optional, employee-led meeting that employees can schedule to meet with their managers once a month (in the corporate world, one-on-one meetings are typically held once a week, but my company’s culture is a bit more relaxed).
I never saw the need to schedule a meeting with my manager; after all, we were already meeting once a week for our team meetings. But I was wrong.
Per my mentor’s encouragement (see #7), I started scheduling these monthly meetings, and it’s been very beneficial. This one-on-one meeting has been a great opportunity to visit, ask questions, bring my manager up to speed on any projects I am working on, or propose a solution to a concern, if any.
It takes extra effort to do something like this, especially if you are the type of employee who prefers to work independently under minimum to no supervision—but it is worth it. Your desire to do this will show your manager that you are serious about growing in your current role and becoming your best self—for yourself and for the organization.
2. Be trustworthy—
Showing trustworthiness is a great way to set a positive precedent for the future; it means that people can always count on you and that you are known for doing what you said you would do.
It is true that sometimes life just happens, and unexpected circumstances can keep us from meeting expectations. However, if you are late to work regularly (traffic was horrible!), or if you struggle with meeting deadlines, following up on assignments, staying away from gossip, or being critical of others, then it is time to set some goals and make some changes.
Your dependability—such as being on time to work, meeting deadlines, and following processes—as well as your honesty, positivity, and ability to keep confidences, among others, are expectations that, when met consistently, will speak positively of your values and reliability as a professional, setting you up for success in the future.
3. Be proactive—
Be on the lookout for opportunities to take something off your manager’s plate, propose a solution to a problem, or learn more about a specific topic. Joining a committee or a club at work (how about toastmasters?), taking a course on LinkedIn Learning, or sharing a best practice at your next team meeting are great ways to show your proactiveness.
For example, just recently I volunteered to be a part of a study for a new product my company was getting ready to launch. And not long ago, a coworker invited me to participate in a meeting with two other individuals from another department to understand their processes and the meaning of some of the terminology they use.
Going the extra mile speaks volumes of your desire to lend a hand, learn, and contribute where needed. Your willingness to take action, improve processes, and do more than what is expected of you in your current role will speak positively of your professionalism and separate you from the rest.
4. Track your achievements—
Tracking your accomplishments is very important, mostly because we do a lot on a day-to-day basis, and our memory will probably have a hard time remembering all the details a month or two from now. Also, keeping track of your accomplishments will come in handy when you have your employee-led and quarterly meetings with your manager, as you’ll be able to provide accurate and specific information about your work.
So, what should we track? I like to take note of successful project completions, what I did to resolve a difficult situation successfully, volunteering opportunities held by my organization in which I participated, optional presentations I chose to attend, or times in which I overcame pressure or exceeded expectations (like completing a project before the expected deadline).
As employees, we sometimes think that, somehow, managers are aware of the details of our work, but the reality is that he is not. A manager has a lot to worry about, and it would be unrealistic to expect him to keep up with everything that we do; so, don’t let your wins, whether big or small, go unnoticed.
5. Speak up during meetings—
Avoid the temptation to just sit and listen during meetings; it will make you appear disengaged and not invested in what is being discussed. Instead, I suggest that you at least make two comments or ask one well-thought-out question in every meeting to show your participation and support.
If you are shy, it may be worth it to ask your manager for a copy of the agenda beforehand to give you time to think about what comments you want to make during the meeting—you could even write them down and have them nearby to quickly take a glance when you are ready to share.
Also, pay attention to your body language. If your meeting is virtual, make sure to dress professionally (at least from the waist up!), sit up straight, and look straight at the camera. This is your time to show, especially to your boss, that you value your work and your team.
6. Play the part—
According to the Harvard Business Review, it is important to “act, think, and communicate like a leader long before that promotion.” This means you need to be on the lookout for opportunities to show your leadership skills within your current role, even if that means stepping out of your comfort zone.
For example, when I was first hired as a Spanish Translator, I learned that our department was looking to invest in a Computer-Assisted Translation tool. Since I was already familiar with several CAT tools, I offered to give a short presentation of CAT tools during one of our team meetings.
Now, I’ll have you know that, due to the nature of my career, I feel very comfortable with the written word, but not so much with public speaking. I am not bad at it, but I still get very nervous, so telling my manager I wanted to do this was not easy.
So, if you are serious about wanting to be a leader, you need to get out of your comfort zone and put yourself out there. This will show others, and especially your manager, that you are committed to going the extra mile to grow professionally and support your team.
7. Ask for a mentor—
Connecting with a mentor will help you develop a rewarding and beneficial relationship that can help you gain professional knowledge, provide you with advice on how to advance in your career, and connect you with other professionals, among others.
The company that I currently work for offers an amazing mentoring program, but if your organization doesn’t have something similar, I suggest you look for a mentor on LinkedIn. This platform gives you the opportunity to connect with other professionals and learn from those who have already navigated the career path you are wanting to take on yourself.
I meet with my mentor once a month, and holding this meeting gives me the opportunity to ask questions and share concerns in a safe environment (what we talk about is not shared with anyone else). Since she’s been with the company longer than I have, I value her insight and counsel on how to approach certain situations, or what steps to take to improve in my current role.
Anyone could benefit from meeting with a person who can help you achieve your goals, inspire you to think differently, share meaningful experiences, and much more. I highly recommend it!
In summary, becoming a memorable employee does take some work. As employees, we all want to further develop ourselves to become the leaders of the future. However, even if you have been with a company for five, 10, or 15 years, these opportunities won’t come your way without dedication and hard work.
The good news is that we are in charge of our own career path, and we all have the ability to improve on those things that will help us get noticed by our boss and/or senior management. In the end, it all comes down to being intentional about finding ways to contribute that go above and beyond the job description for which we were hired. It is all about having a goal in mind and doing what it takes to get there.