Acquire skills, expertise to become a standout at work - East Valley Tribune: Business

Acquire skills, expertise to become a standout at work

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Posted: Sunday, July 24, 2011 11:15 am

Have you noticed that even in this protracted recession, some people have kept their jobs? Look closely and you'll often find that they're often considered "experts."

An expert has unique skills, abilities and training that benefit the organization. Superiors consider them indispensable, colleagues see them as the "go-to" people, and competitors want to hire them.

Look for opportunities to stand out at work. Find a situation or project that interests you and benefits your group. Then find ways to acquire all the skills and latest knowledge necessary to make you a standout. By the way, it doesn't hurt if your ideas make your manager look good, too.

Here are some suggestions:

-- Take a long, hard look at yourself and really assess your abilities. "Ninety percent of the world's woe comes from people not knowing themselves, their abilities, their frailties and even their real virtues," said Sydney J. Harris, syndicated columnist for the Chicago Daily News and Chicago Sun Times. "Most of us go almost all the way through life as complete strangers to ourselves."

-- Ask your boss for an evaluation even if it isn't evaluation time. Learn how he/she perceives your strengths and which growth areas would be best for you. Discuss how you can parlay your strengths to help your department and the total organization.

-- Look for ways to improve efficiencies at work. Focus on an important project and analyze how your abilities and skills can make things easier, more cost-effective and more competitive. Share your ideas with your supervisor and explain how you think you can help.

-- Research how other companies are becoming more efficient and cost-effective. Translate that information into specifics that would benefit your company, and share them with your manager.

-- Take a class that sharpens your knowledge and skill. If it's not available at work, go to an off-site institution or training facility. Even if you have to pay for it out of your own pocket, the benefits will come back to you many times over.

-- Make a point of being a team player. Get along with others, be respectful of everyone, and avoid office gossip and emotionalism. Be courteous and sincerely helpful.

-- Be genuinely knowledgeable and trustworthy. Others will come to you with their ideas and questions.

-- Find ways to ensure that your entire team gets credit for the improvements and innovations they work on.

Marie Stempinski is the founding president of Strategic Communication in St. Petersburg, Fla. She specializes in public relations, marketing and business trends. Reach her at

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