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Career Fridays: How To Stand Out In The Workplace

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If you feel like you're inching closer and closer to the glass ceiling in your current position, most likely it is time to start going after a more challenging job description. Even with a tough economy and employers scaling back on promotions and new hires, marketing yourself more aggressively to will help you stand out from the crowd and get you to the next level. ESSENCE.com spoke with Austin-based executive coach and author, Ann Daly PhD about how repositioning yourself in the workplace can help you get noticed. ESSENCE.com: What kind of behavioral changes can a person make in order to stand out at work? ANN DALY, PhD: There are basically two things that people need to do in order to stand out today: one is to boost their visibility and, number two, is they need to boost their value. These ideas are really the same, as always, but the environment today is so cutthroat that you really have to work your competitive advantage in order to get ahead. ESSENCE.com: Tell us more about visibility. DR. DALY: You can't get away with being unnoticeable anymore. In order to stay employed and get those rare promotions you have to put yourself on the radar screen of people in charge. Reconsider how you're dressing. There is no room for anything less than a highly polished impeccable wardrobe. This becomes more important now when you want to distinguish yourself. Think of how we dress as the frame of our capacity and our abilities. So on the one hand you don't want a frame to be overpowering. You don't want to overdo it and have people remembering what you were wearing rather than what you were saying. You want someone to say, 'You know what, just looking at that person, I feel like they're in control.' You can communicate that with your dress. The other thing about visibility is this is not a time to cut back on your networking because today who gets the promotion and who gets the new job is because of who you know more than ever. ESSENCE.com: Tell us more about boosting one's value. DR. DALY: With the job market the way it is we can't just do an 'okay' job anymore. We have to impress. Not only are we impressing with our dress and impressing with our colleagues and our networks, we need to impress our boss with the value that we bring to him or her, to our department and to our company. The first thing is education. This is a great time to expand your knowledge base. Whether it's some kind of new development in your field that you need to get on top of. When we hand it our projects, we have to double deliver these days. Good is not good enough any more. We have to go above and beyond and show initiative around the kind of work we're doing. We have to show that we have the skill to take it to the next level within the company. ESSENCE.com: Is there anything you can do to your resume to make yourself stand out? DR. DALY: You do want to pull out your resume and take a good hard look at it. You want to make sure to ask these questions: first, is anything missing? If you have gotten more education, a certification or something of the sort, make sure it's in there. The second thing to figure out is whether you have too much information on there. One of the biggest mistakes people make is just putting too much detail on a resume; making it too long so that it doesn't function as it should, which is to give a prospective employer the highlights of your career. Then you have to ask yourself, 'Have I really tuned this resume to the particular job that I'm going after.' The days of just having one resume and mass distributing it are over. With every job that you go for, you have to strategically highlight the things that pertain to that specific job. ESSENCE.com: How important is it for women to really shift their mindset to get ahead? A recent study noted, for example, that women do not apply for a position unless they know they're 100% qualified, while men will apply even if they feel at least 60% qualified. DR. DALY: Yes, that is a bugaboo of mine. Often times if a man and a woman have the same experience, the woman will say, 'Well, I did this one project.' The man will say 'Oh sure, let me detail the projects that I did.' So it's a matter of confidence. Men are bred for confidence from when they are little kids and women in our culture are bred to be humble. Getting ahead is about breaking bad habits like always wanting to be humble and not too visible. As we always tell our children, 'Just do it.' Do you want that job with the raise? Do you want that promotion? You really have to know why you want it and you have to be able to taste it. Confidence comes from clarity of purpose and repeated action so you have to take small steps to build your confidence. Ann Daly, PhD is an executive coach and the author of the forthcoming book, "Do Over! How Women are Reinventing Their Lives." Read more:
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