Climbing The Ladder

How To Stand Out In Any Job, According To 7 Bosses In Different Industries

By | Wednesday, August 17, 2016


Most people (including myself) want to imagine that being promoted, getting recognized at work, and elevating oneself above their peers will be easy if they really want it. However, few people can grasp the scope of the patience, hard work, and dedication required in order to get there. And, even if you put in all that work and don’t succeed right away, that doesn’t mean it’s not within your power to be a certain kind of employee — the kind of person who stands out and get recognized at work.

At my former job, I used to think that because I wasn’t promoted in a year the way the art director above me was when she first started, that I was somehow doomed to be not as good at my job. She had set a bar, and I failed to get over it. Needless to say, that mindset is completely useless and counterproductive. What I should have been doing (and what I’ve learned to do now) is to have taken a hard look at those around me to see what they were doing best. To access the way the best people in the office were working, what strategies they used, what soft skills they had, how they carried themselves and communicated their ideas, etc. I learned to do this overtime, I was like a little sponge trying to absorb any and all information I could to use to my advantage. My work got better, my boss praised me more, and I finally snagged the promotion I had lusted after.

Now, depending on what boss you ask, the ideal skill set they’re looking for in an employee — as well as what qualities set someone apart — is going to be different. However, if you do enough digging, it’s more than likely that you’ll find the same qualities popping up again and again. Confidence, vision, follow-through, tenacity, and honesty are among the top qualities valued in coveted leadership roles. I did some researching online to see what some of the top industry leaders and bosses are saying with regard to what they look for in an employee, and what qualities set rockstar employees apart. Read on below!

1. Sales skills.
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It might be difficult to find someone who relishes having to be a salesperson (though some people do enjoy it), and it’s the kind of work that demands a specific personality trait and skill set. However, possessing some degree of “sales skills” might be way more common and necessary to succeed in the workforce than you might think. Sales skills referring to the ability “to convince others that an idea makes sense, to show bosses or investors how a project or business will generate a return, to help employees understand the benefits of a new process, etc.” According to data, sales skills are one of the most commons skills needed to thrive in the modern workplace. The article above explains how having the ability to sell yourself and your work is crucial to succeeding — and setting yourself apart — in many careers. If you learn to master it, it can give you an edge. The article expands upon that sentiment, saying, “Understanding the sales process, and how to build long-term customer relationships, is incredibly important regardless of the industry or career you choose. Spending time in a direct sales role is an investment that will pay dividends forever.” Read the article in full to learn more.


2. Strategy And Vision.

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Nearly everyone understands the value in simply understanding the work you’re doing and executing it the absolute best you can. However, many bosses say something that sets employees apart from their peers is going above and beyond that. Having a strategy, showing strategic thinking, and long-term vision all go hand-in-hand with one another and are crucial to succeeding. There’s no shortage of people who can perform a job well, but it’s quite another to find someone who thinks out of the box, pushes boundaries, and has a clear long-term vision for how they can get there. The article above describes the kind of qualities bosses look for when they hire, and an individual who shows they are capable of executing a specific vision will find it easier to set themselves apart from the competition.

3. Taking Notes.

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Taking notes?! “That’s not something I’ve done since college,” you might be thinking. But, it’s a more valued skill than you might think and can potentially distinguish you from your peers. According to a number of bosses and business leaders, handwriting notes can signal to others that you’re really absorbing the information being communicated and take it more seriously. In fact, the article provides some hard numbers for this claim saying, “56 percent of employees and 79 percent of execs feel that you’re not fully paying attention during a meeting if you’re not taking notes.”  That means nearly 80 percent of bosses in the position to promote people reward those who show a higher level of attentiveness. The article explains how taking notes can be a positive addition to interviews and job searching as well, both of which with aide you in your quest to climb the career ladder. Read the article in full for more details about this unexpected and valuable skill.

4. Practicing The 5-Hour Rule

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The 5-hour rule describes the habit of spending one hour a day devoted to a particular task that helps you learn something specific. This kind of dedicated practice can make you “world class in the world of work,” and the 5-hour rule is practiced by wildly-successful business leaders around the world. When we spend time learning to excel at something, it has the potential to elevate our entire skill set and set us apart as leaders and thinkers. It makes us sharper and more attuned to our growth as an individual and asset to the workforce. The article describes exactly how this practice can set you apart saying, “most professionals focus on productivity and efficiency, not on improvement. As a result, just five hours of deliberate learning a week can set you apart.”

5. The Ability To Evolve.

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It’s a crucial Darwinian skill, but that’s exactly why having the ability to evolve sets certain employees apart from their peers. In a world that’s constantly changing, where platforms are evolving, new technologies are being introduced, and there’s a never-ending influx of apps to help us do things better, it’s essential to be able to adapt. The article talks about the importance of being the kind of person who isn’t afraid to evolve, take risks, and lead, and those are the very skills that will allow someone to rise to the top. It explains, “If you stay within what’s known and safe, you will never be truly successful. Doing what’s uncertain and risky isn’t easy, and that’s why the people who dare to do it are rewarded.”

6. Confidence.

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Sounds obvious, right? But do you actually implement confidence into your daily routine? It’s a skill that nearly every employer says is important if you want to thrive in the workplace. Without confidence, your ideas will not be heard as loudly and they will most likely not be taken as seriously — if you don’t sound convicted and invested in your own ideas, no one else will. The article above takes your through an in-depth looks at how confidence can manifest itself in 13 different ways in the workplace. It aso shows us  how to integrate it into the work you do and the way you interact with your team and supervisors. Confidence is key and the article suggests that, “One must always be confident at workplace to gain visibility and show how one tackles situation or problems with positivity and dignity.”

7. Vulnerability.

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Being vulnerable is a powerful thing, and it reveals a lot about oneself to the people that he or she works with. The article linked above shows how being vulnerable at work can lead to great results, which both enriches your experience as an employee and sets you apart from others. Of course, it’s not easy to practice being vulnerable (it’s difficult enough to do this in one’s personal life). It’s all too easy to be defensive and try and protect yourself and your pride, in a work setting. However, the article draws some fascinating conclusions about vulnerability saying, “Vulnerability is when you can give honest appraisals of a person or situation. Saying what you really think isn’t always easy. If fortified with compassion, however, it can be the quickest route to building trust with another person.” When we think of it as an emotional tool, it’s easier to understand how using it can be beneficial. “What you do in these moments has the potential to set you apart as not only a great leader, but also a great person” — it’s hard to practice in real life, but it’s worth trying.

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