You don’t need to ask for permission to be great — like Nike’s slogan says, “just do it.”
A challenge that many professionals face throughout their lifetime, and careers, is the reality that they are passed over for opportunities because they don’t have the credentials to back them up. However, whether it’s because you lack the experience or education, not having set credentials can be resolved.
Most of us will go through periods of professional evolution throughout our careers when we’re the least qualified and inexperienced among our peers, however you shouldn’t feel inadequate — instead, get motivated.
If you’re new to your company or wish to make an immediate impression, here are five things that you can do right away to stand out:
1. Bring big ideas to the table.
In any company ideas, big or small, are the fuel that keeps an organization moving forward. When I met Gaines, he shared that his company could be doing more with social media marketing, which prompted me to encourage him to share that feedback with his leadership. Today, there’s information everywhere online — just run a Google search — however, it’s mostly the “doers” or mid-level employees that take the time to research the latest trends, listen to a podcast on their way to work and binge watches YouTube videos after hours. Leverage this form of “experience” and expertise to bridge the gap between yourself and leadership that isn’t “in the know.”
2. Be different.
Companies don’t need another “cookie cutter employee” that fits the mold of everyone else in your workplace. Instead, what they’re searching for is talent that’s going to drive results and stand out from their colleagues. Going against the grain and starting up a podcast, writing for your industry’s publications and building your brand on the back of your employer is what will, over time, help you stand out from your peers and make you noticed internally — good or bad. If you want that promotion in the next 12 to 18 months, what’s your market value to your company and the competition?
3. Embrace your youth — or inexperience.
Whether you’re a generation Z professional who’s entering the workforce for the first time, a millennial who’s pivoting into a new field, or a generation Xer that’s reinventing herself, embrace being “new” by asking questions up front of what’s expected of you and what you can personally do to bring immediate value to your organization. At the age of 19, I began my career with no college degree and for first four or five years was always the youngest person in any room I stepped foot in. I learned how to use that to my advantage by aligning with mentors who were older than me and asking them to guide me. If you’re “older” and more seasoned in your career, do the opposite and take someone under your wing that you can train up the ladder of success.
4. Create milestone events as benchmarks.
Whether it’s real estate sales or corporate marketing campaigns, set small, intermediate goals for yourself to measure your personal and professional growth. If you’re like Gaines, who is striving to stand out from his experienced colleagues and is starting up a podcast to build up his brand, establish realistic goals for yourself such as “by X date I’m going to have X subscribers and will be doing X tactics to hit that target.” Often your boss will establish goals for you, which are indeed important, however self-motivation and accountability is the key if you want to rise above your present status.
5. Don’t ask for permission.
Provided that you’re not leaking sensitive company information or misrepresenting your organization, don’t ask for permission to be disruptive or innovative. During my brief time working for LinkedIn, one of the company’s core values that was ingrained in me was “take intelligent risks.” Going back to Gaines’s objective of trying to win over the approval of his boss you don’t need to wait for your supervisor or leadership to notice you and permit you to stand out.
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