Promotion Plan : Going From Invisible to Indispensable


You arrive on time, keep your head down and get your work done. But is it enough to impress the boss or are you flying too low under the radar?

Step up to the plate

Show some initiative if you want the boss to notice you, says Charmin Rockwell, owner and director of Career Employment and Counselling Services in Morinville, Alberta. “I know that sounds simple, but one of the biggest things that holds workers back is that they hesitate to step up to the plate,” she says.

Tyler Williams, president and CEO of Wurldtech, a Vancouver firm that specializes in cyber security solutions and management, says that in addition to possessing a high level of expertise, people who can lead and contribute the most in a team-oriented environment are the ones who catch his attention. “Throughout any of our candidate selection search, we specifically look for people who have experience running and being involved with groups and teams,” he says.

Dress for success

Even if your company has a lax dress code, save the sweatpants for the gym. “I think younger generations want to be more casual and they want to be seen for their intellect and not necessarily have people judge them on their clothing,” says Barbara Hughes, a Vancouver-based human resources consultant and career coach.

But appearance plays a significant role in reality, whether we like it or not, Hughes says. “If you look like you’re sloppy, then the perception is that you do sloppy work.” But should you show up to work in a three-piece suit if your co-workers are wearing T-shirts and jeans? “You can be professional without being in a suit,” Hughes says.

For example, if your company has casual Fridays, she suggests wearing cords instead of jeans, or choosing dressier jeans that are work appropriate – which means no rips. Avoid tube tops or spandex, she adds, and wear dress shoes, not runners or flip flops. This can help set you apart, but not alienate you from your colleagues.

But remember not to go over the top, warns Hughes, and don’t always rely on your boss as a marker. “Take a wider lens and look at the fuller organization when you’re assessing what’s appropriate attire,” Hughes says.

Show and tell

Employees need to demonstrate their commitment to a company, says Joseph Tomlinson of JAT and Associates, a career-counselling agency in Ottawa. Don’t be the last one to arrive at work and don’t join the stampede out the door when five o’clock rolls around.

In addition to working hard, you may have to sell yourself to your boss. Rockwell suggests presenting managers with an updated resume, especially in larger organizations where senior management changes more often.

In one case, a long-time employee spent years feeling underpaid and under-appreciated for his experience and qualifications, says Rockwell. But the company was unaware of the employee’s discontent and the fact that he had a master’s degree until he informed them he was leaving to work for another firm.

Spread positivism

Hughes also suggests employees make a point of providing co-workers with positive feedback, even the CEO. “It’s a way to expose yourself to different individuals within the organization and at least get on their radar.”

Hughes adds that being sincere is a must in these situations. “If it comes from the heart and you’re not just making it up, then it will land properly.” But if it becomes obvious that the feedback is insincere or you’re pushing everyone aside to sit next to the CEO, then it will backfire says Hughes.