Make us your home page

Raising your profile on the job can pay off big

With a slow job recovery forecast for 2010, experts say the time may be ideal for reinventing your image for a better job at the place you work. • "So many (companies) are still in the mode of getting done what they need to get done with the people they have. That's a great time for anyone working in management or not to stand out and become more important to the company," said Dan Finnigan, a recruitment and HR expert and CEO of Jobvite, which uses social networking tools for recruiting.

Finnigan said employees should decide what it is they want to do, identify where in the company that kind of work is done, introduce themselves and offer to help.

In boom times, he said, employers tend to look outside the company for people to solve problems. But in a down economy, businesses look internally — for people with good ideas who are willing to sign up for more work and stay late.

"It's really all about making yourself visible," he said. "Volunteer. If you have a boss that has staff meetings, I think you should sit in on every staff meeting and pick up on two or three problems that that boss and that staff need and want to solve."

Volunteer if you think you can help

That's exactly what Leah Jones — owner of Chicago-based Natiiv Arts & Media, a company that teaches clients how to use social media tools — did to get ahead.

When Jones showed up at a Chicago temp agency in summer 2005, they didn't know what to do with her. She had not worked more than two years at any job and her experience ranged from scooping ice cream to managing a residence hall in London. She managed to land a temp administrative assistant job at Edelman, a global public relations agency, where, after raising her hand to volunteer on a number of projects related to social media, she was soon hired on as part of Edelman's Me2 Revolution — a group formed in 2006 to launch their public relations into the digital, and social, age.

"If I could participate, I was participating," she said. "I raised my hand and offered to work on a database project regarding blogs. I was talking to my supervisor about creating a position in our group too. I was asking, 'How can we change my job description to better reflect my skills?' "

By the time Jones left Edelman in January 2009, she had been promoted to Digital-Culture Evangelist, helping clients to understand what was being said about their brands online and helping to create strategies to match.

"Don't let a job description define what you do," Jones said.

Tom Musbach, managing editor of Yahoo HotJobs, said it isn't enough to simply work harder. Your boss needs to know about all the good work you're doing.

"CC your boss on an e-mail string that sort of documents some of the steps you've taken. Sort of an FYI," he said. "Be casual and say, 'I just want to make sure you're in the loop on this.' "

Dress appropriate to the job you want

Carissa Froome, who was promoted in September at her job with a major financial institution and relocated from Chicago to Kansas City, worked with co-workers to help endorse one another's work.

"I watched co-workers doing that, and they were getting ahead because they were self-promoting," she said. "I developed a close-knit group and we all supported each other."

She also decided to step up her wardrobe, hired a fashion consultant and visited a tailor.

"If you want a better position, you have to dress like you're already in that position," she said. While employers, anecdotally, say they are better positioned to offer raises and promotions than last year, Musbach said ladder climbers will need to stay flexible.

"Employers today are working with smaller budgets so they might be talking about more productivity with fewer resources," he said.

The more you can do to make your boss' job easier, the better you will be perceived when promotions are made, he said.

Penelope Trunk, founder of Brazen, said employees should also raise their profiles online. That could mean blogging or creating a professional presence through a career site.

"Ideas are how people network online. The more connections, the higher your profile within your field. . . . You need to think bigger than just your company. You should focus on getting your ideas out in the world. Connecting people with your ideas, getting recognition for your ideas, and the rest takes care of itself," she said.

Raise your profile past your job

A high profile online can lead to invitations to speak at conferences and other professional events, she said.

"All your boss needs to see is one blogger quoting you and your ideas, and that will make a huge impression on your boss," she said. Tim Courtney, director of marketing and brand strategy at KeyLimeTie, an interactive software design and development firm in Downers Grove, Ill., took it a step further. He used online networks while working at a small server hosting company to organize 300- to 400-person technology networking events and used LinkedIn and other online networks to keep up with the people he met. Eventually, when he decided he wanted to learn more about social application development, he organized an event around it, learned what it was about and used the connections he'd made to move to a new company, in a better position and at a higher rate of pay.

"I thought, 'I want to meet people who like X, why don't I bring them all together?' " he said. "I was literally a nobody in that community."

At some companies, your online presence could mean leveraging a company's intranet site if it allows employees to update an internal profile or create groups, said Finnigan at Jobvite.

"You want to be perceived as someone who gets outside the company and can offer solutions," Finnigan said.

And getting outside the company can help in the case of an unexpected layoff. About a year ago, when Scott Bishop, a marketing consultant, was laid off from McGraw Hill, he already had enough of an online presence — tweeting about social media and marketing — that the transition to independent consultant was easy, he said.

Tips for getting ahead

Volunteer. The best way to move up a ladder is to be known as someone who is willing to help at a moment's notice.

Help with the budget. Businesses are still tied to annual budgets, and while the 2010 budget is already in the bag, employees still have a chance to make suggestions that could make room for promotions and raises in the 2011 budget.

Network. Networking online or internally is a great way to raise your profile.

Take on a project. Having a project under your belt is valuable experience that can help win a promotion or beef up a resume.

Be fearless. Fear in the job market means people are playing it safe, offering an environment ripe for creative ideas and solutions.

Raising your profile on the job can pay off big 01/30/10 [Last modified: Friday, January 29, 2010 1:24pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Chicago Tribune.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Despite Hurricane Irma, Hillsborough remains on pace to unlock hotel tax that could pay for Rays ballpark


    TAMPA — Despite the threat of a catastrophic storm, it was business as usual at many Hillsborough County hotels in the days before Hurricane Irma bore down on the Tampa Bay region.

    The Grand Hyatt near TIA closed during Hurricane Irma, but many other Hillsborough hotels were open and saw an influx.
  2. New Graham-Cassidy health care plan stumbles under opposition from governors


    WASHINGTON — The suddenly resurgent Republican effort to undo the Affordable Care Act was dealt a blow on Tuesday when a bipartisan group of governors came out against a proposal gaining steam in the Senate.

    Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., joined by, from left, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., speaks to reporters as he pushes a last-ditch effort to uproot former President Barack Obama's health care law, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. To win, 50 of the 52 GOP senators must back it -- a margin they failed to reach when the chamber rejected the effort in July. [/J. Scott Applewhite | Associated Press]
  3. Early estimates peg Hurricane Irma damage at as much as $65B


    The damage totals from Hurricane Irma are still being tallied, but early numbers are in: As of Tuesday, the storm is estimated to have caused between $42.5 billion and $65 billion of damage. That's according to a Tuesday release by Irvine, Calif.-based analytics company CoreLogic.

    Hurricane Irma is estimated to have caused up to $65 billion in damage, said analytics company CoreLogic. Pictured is 
Hermilo Munoz Castillo as wades down a flooded street to check on his home in southern Collier County, Fla. after Hurricane Irma passed. | [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  4. Port Tampa Bay makes public/private commitment for $60 million expansion project


    TAMPA — Port Tampa Bay approved a public-private partnership agreement with four other entities to divvy up who will pay for a $60 million widening and extension of the Big Bend Channel.

    Port Tampa Bay approved a participation agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Florida Department of Transportation, Tampa Electric Company and Mosaic Company at the port's monthly board meeting on  Tuesday. Port Tampa Bay President & CEO Paul Anderson signs the agreement as Ram Kancharla; Port Tampa Bay's vice president of planning & development, Brandon Burch; project manager at United States Army Corps of Engineers, Lois Moore; of Alcalde and Fay and Charles Klug; Port Tampa Bay principal counsel, and Tim Murphy; deputy district engineer of the Army Corps., looks on. [Company handout]
  5. One of St. Petersburg's newest condo projects is sold out

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — Reflecting the continued demand for condos in downtown St. Petersburg, The Salvador, completed earlier this year at 199 Dali Blvd., has sold out. Records show that a 2-bedroom, 2-bath unit sold Friday for $620,000 in an all-cash deal. Two other units — a 3-bedroom, 2-bath penthouse and a …

     Reflecting the continued demand for condos in downtown St. Petersburg, The Salvador, completed earlier this year at 199 Dali Blvd., has sold out. 
[Rendering courtesy of aalliiggnn LLC]