When we hit mid-career it is as important as ever to be remembered, considered and to stand out in your career. You’ve carved a successful and rewarding career to date but still, have plenty more to give and receive. Yes, there may be some people happy to sit back and let the younger ones take over and who are happy to give themselves a rest from all the opportunities and attention which come your way as a stand out person. But, the reality is for the majority of us in our 40s and 50s, the idea of merging into the background and becoming part of the furniture is not going to cut it. We have still got so much time to give and a great deal of time to achieve more. If you want to ensure you look back on a fulfilling and meaningful career then slipping into the background mid-career needs to be prevented.
By now you’re an expert and a safe pair of hands that any business is going to value and be proud to have in the team. Value yourself too and make sure you continue to attract the recognition and reward you deserve and need.
Truth is that standing out brings more opportunity. It helps you feel more secure and enables you to set yourself apart from others. It will boost growth, self-esteem and happiness at work and in life.
Here are 5 things to work on to ensure you continue to stand out in your career and industry.
1. Keep your eye on your personal brand
If you want people to see you and then remember you, you need to continually work at your personal brand. No successful brand stops tending to its architecture and positioning just because it’s been around for a while. This thinking is just as important for brand ‘You’ if you want others to keep buying you for jobs, service and opinion. Self-reflection is a good strategy to tune into regularly to keep an eye on your brand. You are more likely to stand out if you are living and working aligned with your deep purpose, values and true essence. Recognise when adjustments are needed in the presentation and communication of your USP at different points in your career. Be consistent in how you show up each day aligned to your brand and explore new channels to get yourself seen and heard. It may mean pushing yourself out of your comfort zone perhaps doing more networking, writing or tweeting. Then again, it may simply mean presenting yourself in a consistent confident authentic manner as you go about your daily work. Start with taking steps to understand ‘brand you’. Then start taking steps to ensure you are showcasing your unique authentic self everyday.
2. Never stop learning
Over the course of your working life, you will naturally learn and add to your knowledge bank. But, as we get older the amount of learning can definitely reduce. Time is often blamed for our inability to feed ourselves with new knowledge, trends and changes. Changing priorities, fast-paced jobs and all the different ways we have available to fill our free time, mean life can really get in the way of learning. Some are lucky enough to be fed opportunities to keep learning by their employers, but many are not. Learning is a key part of being able to stand out. When you learn you feed yourself with the ability to keep contributing in so many ways. Being current keeps you interesting, helps generate ideas and enables you to engage with new people and new situations when many may find themselves lost for words. New skills open new doors and increases your value. Knowledge is power, so start to build purpose led learning in some form into your daily routine.
3. Be comfortable in your own skin
You are you and I am me, both successful and interesting. Yet, if we met today we’d potentially spend a split second (or longer) comparing ourselves. We may even feel a little rubbish because we spot a ‘lacking’ in some area. It’s human nature for us to look at others because we seek validation and direction in some form. It can help keep us focused and driven. However, if we constantly fall into the trap of comparison, our self-worth and confidence will take a tumble which sends us retreating to the background. Those who can be more comfortable in their own skin don’t fall so easily for the mind monkey negative chatter comparing and judging themselves with the people around them. They look at others and feel inspired. They accept their shortfalls as development opportunities and know how to tap into what they have and not what they have not. This boosts confidence and belief to keep themselves in the spotlight. So, when you hear the mind monkey or feel the negative emotions of comparison check in with yourself. Remind yourself of all your strengths and reinforce the positives.
4. Be communicative
No matter the performance challenge, somewhere in the midst communication skills come into play. It’s the same with being able to continually stand out. It’s not just because by nature the loudest will always get heard first. There are many quiet and reserved people I know who stand out too. But, communication becomes a problem if you don’t have conversations. When you hold back and bite your tongue in fear of what could happen if you say the wrong thing. That’s when you get lost in the crowd. If you are able to be more communicative, to find a level of confidence to speak up and get your point across you open doors, relieve tension and will always ensure you are remembered. It doesn’t have to be in a wide-open forum or require you to be loud and bold. Quiet and modest chat, even one to one, delivers impact in raising your profile. It’s what you say, how you say it and the fact you are saying it that is important.
5. Be the happy face in the crowd
Look around the next time you are on a train, in a meeting or any crowded place. Who do you get drawn to? Those with their heads down, stern faces, frowns and exhausted expressions or those with a smile. A smile is a powerful tool in your box of tricks if you want to stand out. Give it a go and see the immediate benefit.