How to stand out in your role

Written by: Georgina Bloomfield
Published on: 25 Apr 2016

You may not be on the lookout for a new job just yet, however you may be wondering how you can really stand out in your job before you start looking at other career options. After all, most of us only move jobs when all means of progression have been exhausted. You could be reading this because you fancy a career change in your current role or you’ve lost your way a bit in your career, things are a bit stagnant and you want to get things back on track. Ultimately, if you’re looking for a career refresh but don’t know where to start (and don’t want to leave just yet) then you’ve come to the right place!


Use your initiative

This skill is quite possibly one of the best skills you can adopt to improve your career prospects. Basically, using your initiative is being useful in your role without being asked. If you spot an error in a spreadsheet, find a new sales lead or learn something new that could help out your department – you’re going ahead, using your initiative and accomplishing tasks without being prompted first.

Speak up when you can

One of the best ways to stand out in your role is to speak up and be heard. Wallflowers may find it harder to stand out in their role even though they’re brimming with brilliant ideas on how to improve the team. Unfortunately not every workplace will offer opportunities to shy people to speak out, so it’s down to you do find the courage when you have a good idea. If it doesn’t go down too well, at least you made an effort, it’s just a case of ‘better luck next time!’ Use meetings as an example of when you should speak up with your ideas. Don’t be afraid to disagree with people if you have good reason to.

Reliability is key

You need to be consistently reliable in your role. You ought to be the person other colleagues know they can count on when they need help. Even if some tasks aren’t in your job remit, do them if it means you’re helping someone else out. You also want to be known for being good at what you’re employed to do! Meet deadlines and make sure when you say you’re going to do something you manage to follow it through. Turn up to meetings that you say you’re attending and make sure you’re never late. Flaky and late people don’t pass the reliability test and they’ll stand out for all the wrong reasons.

Look the part

I know the title of this article is ‘stand out in your role’ but you don’t want to stand out in the wrong way! You need to let others know that you’re taking your job seriously and you’re a career minded person. For this to be feasible you need to look the part. This is where the title is sort of misleading. Don’t take it literally – avoid wearing fluorescent green to work (unless it’s a necessary hi-vis jacket!) and don’t go overboard on the accessories, make up or aftershave. If you want to be taken seriously, you need to adopt a professional look. Gradually start dressing as if you were in the position above what you are now. Eventually when promotions come about, people will be able to visually picture you being in the promoted position.

Get social

This links back to speaking up when you can. Make sure you’re making an effort with your co-workers on a daily basis. The person who never speaks to anyone won’t make friends easily – and although many workplaces aren’t designed for friendships, it’s all in the networking. If you can create some great links with your colleagues you can guarantee that when new opportunities arise, they may think of you. Accept invitations, get to know other people and take an interest in what matters to them whether it’s their pets, activities outside of work or if they’re family-orientated. At the same time, the last thing you want to portray is false interest. People know when you’re only asking questions with a motive. Don’t be that person and try to take a genuine interest in others. This tip isn’t for everyone and if you’re not the social sort then the odd friendly email now and then can go a long way.

Never treat anyone as if they are beneath you. Every staff member you work with should be treated with the same level of respect, patience and understanding. If you rub somebody up the wrong way without even realising it, you never know when it’ll come back to haunt you when you’re looking to progress at work. After all, it is a small world and you never know who’s connected to whom.

Never bad mouth the company you’re working for. You could be saying the wrong things to the wrong people and inadvertently come across as the office grump. If you’re always being negative about your work, people aren’t ever going to consider you for a promotion and you’ll stand out for all the wrong reasons. 

Be knowledgeable

You won’t be able to progress and stand out in your role without a little knowledge to go with it. Make sure you are aware of the financial state of which your department is in. If you’re not hugely knowledgeable about the industry you’re in just yet, then do some research online every now and then, get some books that may help you understand the industry a little more and speak to other departments about what problems they have and what they need to fix those problems. Offer solutions where you can – always add to a conversation.

Take the lead

If you see an opportunity to take the lead on a project, do it. If it’s your first time in a leadership role, you may make a few mistakes here and there. Don’t worry about it – the point is that you made a choice to go out of your comfort zone and any place worth progressing in will recognise that. Do the best job you possibly can and don’t be afraid to ask for help. After all, what’s more important – the project being done well or your ego? If the opportunity to lead isn’t coming up, make sure you take part in participating in a team project – and make a point of doing so.

Ultimately, by doing all of the above you’ll eventually make yourself indispensable in your role, which means you’re standing out for all the right reasons. As long as you’re good at your job, you’re a friendly and approachable person and you have an open mind and are easy to work with then you’re on the right track to standing out at work!