Professional Primer: Here’s how to get noticed for your hard work

Written on Jan 18, 2018

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA content manager

Professional Primer is our series to help you navigate the tricky world of business etiquette. Read past posts online here.

TiggettTSelf-advocating can be your strategy to earning that elusive promotion, raise or learning opportunity. But to advocate for yourself successfully, you must understand its purpose in the workplace.

“It means making sure your voice is heard,” said Tonya Tiggett, chief success strategist at Promoting University, LLC. “I always say the best person to look out for yourself is you; the person who is going to have your best interest at heart at work is you.”

She said one of the biggest mistakes professionals make is thinking that keeping their head down and working hard is enough to get where they want to go. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

“Everyone is enormously busy,” Tiggett said. “How can you expect your manager or someone who is responsible for your career movement to remember what you’re doing if they can barely keep track of what they’re doing?”

This is where self-advocating comes in and it can be communicated in more than one way. It could mean making sure your perspective is heard during a meeting, suggesting an improvement to a project or communicating your career goals to your supervisor in a one-on-one.

Tiggett stressed the importance of speaking regularly with your boss about your career and how well you’re serving the company. A performance review to discuss this once or twice a year is simply not enough.

Choosing the right time to self-advocate also is key. For example, in the midst of a hectic project isn’t the ideal time to sit down with your manager, but after its completion you could bring up the effort you put forth to ensure its success. It’s not about bragging or being arrogant, but making sure your hard work is known.

“When you do speak up and have confidence in yourself, people are more likely to listen to you,” Tiggett said. “It creates this great cycle when you’re in the right place and the right environment for it.”

Sometimes when advocating for yourself, your ideas or suggestions will be shut down. Tiggett said hearing “no” occasionally shouldn’t deter you, but if your voice is consistently ignored or rejected, it might be time to consider a different opportunity. The right organization will give you room to grow and recognize your efforts.

“Self-advocating can be a form of branding,” Tiggett said. “In this ever-changing world of the unpredictable nature of business, even when we think a business is stable, you stand a much better chance of surviving and thriving because you’re using your voice.”

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