Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Making an Impression

Have you ever wondered why other people are getting promoted when you know that you have more knowledge or skills? A possible reason is that others, including managers and supervisors, may not really know what talents you have. This may be partly their fault if they are not very observant. However, you may be expecting too much if you haven't showcased your skills appropriately.

The first thing to do is to identify a deficiency in the business or institution where you could highlight your particular skills. In particular you should look for areas where supervisors have significant problems that do not look like they will be solved in the immediate future. You will make more of an impression if you solve an intractable problem they have rather than one that only affects you.

Develop a plan and seek support for your methods. This doesn't have to involve a cost. In fact, it is better if you can propose a solution that is cost neutral, or even better, one that will provide cost savings.

If the solution doesn't work, look for other opportunities to follow. On the other hand, if it is successful you need to broadcast this to others, particularly those who are likely to make decisions regarding your career. This should be done in a timely fashion because there are usually many others who will take the credit for your work if you don't do so.

When presenting the solution it is useful to spend a lot of time in preparation. For example, you may be tempted to put a few boring PowerPoint slides together to showcase the work. This will cause an impression, but perhaps not the one you want. It may give the impression that you are not prepared to put in the time and effort to make a professional presentation. Take your time and look at other good examples. Try to reduce words and include more images. Research has shown that visually exciting presentations are remembered longer than simple bullet points.

Another important way to make an impression is with your attitude. There are many things you are going to be critical about in your workplace. It is acceptable to make your criticisms in a professional manner by identifying issues. However, some people are tempted to include personal attacks in this context, particularly when using email. Try to avoid this. Remember that supervisors are looking to promote staff that tends to be providers of solutions rather than those who create problems.

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