Challenging yourself to be better every day can help you differentiate yourself from others.

Perhaps the tumultuous last year has made you realize that you are ready to switch careers.  And you aren’t alone—according to a National Association of Personal Financial Advisors survey, 25% of Americans are likely to seek work in a new field, and 27% are looking for a new position. Even if you are not looking for a new job, making yourself stand out in your current position can serve you well in the future for better opportunities.

Why Standing Out is Important

You might work with many people who are capable at their job, but they don’t necessarily stand out. Meeting deadlines or arriving at meetings on time do not qualify for extraordinary work or make others value you. Those employees that do stand out at work are admired and appreciated. What qualities do those employees possess that really makes them different from the rest? What makes the difference is how you interact with others and how you look further to generate value and optimization. The following four suggestions can help you put yourself in a position to really make your mark.

Start Off on the Right Foot

A new position or project provides the opportunity to start fresh. There is a lot you won’t know so asking questions is a great way to show that you are committed to learning about how you can excel at work and can open discussions that might not have otherwise happened. It also shows that you are interested and engaged in the role. Set up meetings with team members you’ll be supporting, leading or partnering with to understand gaps that you may be able to fill effectively. Establish thirty, sixty, and ninety-day goals and share those with your manager to show you have a vision for your contributions and are holding yourself accountable to achieve them. 

Having a sense of ownership and responsibility from the start instead of leaning into the “Well I’m new” mindset will set you apart from the rest.

Be a Learner and a Leader

When you are new to a project or position, it is best to listen and learn how the processes work. But as time goes on, you can move to more of a leadership position where you can give your opinion and have greater influence. When you are familiar with an area of discussion, have the confidence to speak up to share your knowledge. Contribute to meetings when you can add value because management will take notice of the contributors in meetings.  

In addition, look for opportunities to continually expand your knowledge, even when it does not fall into the realm of your current position but may be beneficial to your future. This makes you more valued and better prepared to handle higher-level work.

Increase Efficiency

Sometimes a fresh set of eyes can see old processes in a new way. Start with your role and find a way to make it better. Suggest a solution to an issue and how you can assist in fixing it. Those who stand out are those who take action on problems, rather than sit back and wait for others to fix them. Most teams have one or two important problems that have been put on the backburner. Find out what they are and do the preliminary research on them.  

A sign of a leader is one who can optimize processes to make them more efficient. Providing feedback to upper management shows an understanding of the importance of feedback as well as improving inefficiencies. And even if your first suggestion is not met with enthusiasm, eventually one of your ideas may gain support. 

Lend a Hand

If you want to stand out, build your network by connecting with others and showing interest in others’ work.  As long as you have the bandwidth, offer to help on a project or a colleague that needs it.  This gives you a reputation as the ‘go-to’ person that can be counted on, and one that a company would not want to lose. When it comes time for promotions, the person that adds value to the organization is the one who will be considered.  

Many organizations are becoming more involved in community service outreach. If you are asked to volunteer outside of the organization, participate if possible. Those that volunteer for a good cause are definitely noted by others.

Most people want to be noticed, recognized, and appreciated at work. Knowing that your work is impactful leads to a sense of reward and gives further purpose to your work. Challenging yourself to be better every day can help you differentiate yourself from others.