Position Yourself in a Positive Light
These are challenging times. In the face of budget cuts, layoffs and general economic uncertainty, you’re probably doing more work with fewer resources and feeling a bit overwhelmed.
Now more than ever, though, you need to be focused, motivated and productive. Not only does this kind of professional grace under pressure help you persevere, but it can also enhance your value to your company. Employers place a premium on those members of the team who are able to perform at consistently high levels regardless of ups and downs.
The key is to make sure your supervisors are aware of your efforts by positioning yourself in a positive light. The best way to do this is to be your own “public relations” manager.
Businesses use public relations, or PR, to communicate important events and developments—from new product launches to strategic alliances with other firms. While you certainly should not write a press release every time you complete a project or meet a deadline, you can implement PR principles to increase your visibility at work. Here are a few ideas that will help you shine a spotlight on your talents and accomplishments:
- Confirm priorities. If there have been staffing changes recently at your firm, chances are there’s been a corresponding shift in the importance and urgency of particular projects. To make sure that you’re attending to top-priority assignments first, check in with your manager. Tell him what you’ve been working on, and ask if you should make any adjustments to your “to-do” list. Your manager will appreciate your initiative.
- Promote yourself. Send your manager periodic e-mails about the projects you’ve completed and provide updates about assignments still in progress. Be sure to include any information on innovative or cost-effective approaches you used. Adopt a straightforward, professional tone to avoid sounding boastful.
- Show willingness to do more. Self-promotion is important, but you also want to be perceived as a team player. Whenever possible, offer to take on additional duties or projects that might otherwise be pushed to the back burner. Think in terms of what you can do to enhance the standing of your department as a whole, then make known your readiness to pitch in.
- Share good ideas. During meetings, listen actively so that you can make helpful suggestions or propose solutions to problems—even if they’re outside the scope of your routine duties. If it’s appropriate, volunteer to lead (or at least participate in) a committee or work group. This will increase your visibility and create a favorable impression on your manager. You’ll be seen as someone who thinks beyond the narrow range of her own responsibilities and considers broader issues that affect the company overall.
- Be a clearinghouse of new information. Stay on top of developments in the IT field by reading trade publications, participating in professional organizations or user groups and visiting online forums, chat groups and product sites. But don’t keep your knowledge to yourself—share relevant information that might help the company cut costs or operate more efficiently. Send a brief e-mail to your manager or offer to discuss what you’ve learned at the next staff meeting. You’ll soon be regarded as a reliable source of insightful, educated suggestions and opinions.
- Cultivate and share a positive outlook. People enjoy working with someone who has an upbeat, can-do attitude—especially during difficult times. By not dwelling on bad news or negative events and focusing on the tasks at hand, you’ll set an example that your co-workers can emulate. In addition to making the work environment more appealing, you’ll be positioning yourself as a leader who can inspire and motivate others.
In the midst of upheaval and uncertainty, it can be tempting to remain in your cubicle and keep a low profile. But if you step forward and become more engaged in what’s going on in the workplace, you’ll actually feel a greater sense of control over your own job. The bonus is that you’ll also be viewed as a leader—the kind of employee who is always an asset to the company.
Katherine Spencer Lee is executive director of Robert Half Technology, a leading provider of IT professionals for initiatives ranging from e-business development and multi-platform systems integration to network engineering and technical support. Robert Half Technology has more than 100 locations in the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia and offers online job search services at www.roberthalftechnology.com.