How Do I Gain Visibility in My Job?

Last Updated May 12, 2010 8:00 AM EDT

My current position is that of Sr. Specialist. I have been with my company for five years and my next step would be that of Manager. Last June my Sr. Director put in a request to the VP of our department for that promotion to take place by year-end. It was denied. The reason given - "Ummm - no." When I asked my Sr. Director what that was supposed to mean, he said I needed to be more visible. My question: How do I become more visible when by virtue of my position I am not included in the meetings, discussions, etc. that would give me visibility and opportunity to interact with the VP? Your Senior Director meant well when he said you needed "more visibility," but he didn't mean that. An "ummm, no" from your VP doesn't mean, "I have no idea who this guy is," it means "there is some reason which I either cannot or will not articulate right now, but this guy is not ready for a promotion to manager."

Visibility isn't just about being in the meeting, and it's not limited by your position. Other Sr. Specialists have been promoted and it wasn't because they were lucky enough to snag a chair in a conference room. I've been in lots of meetings with lots of people and some of those people were going up, some were going down and some were doomed to being in the same position until they were willing to make a change.

You need to make a change.

Because, you see, it's not about your title or your job description, it's about what you are doing. Do you fit into any of the following categories:

  • Do things the same way you've always done them
  • Complain about workload
  • Unwilling to cross train
  • Unwilling to help a co-worker unless there is something in it for you
  • Completes all work as assigned, on time, as instructed
The first four are obvious no-nos, but what's wrong with that last one? Shouldn't you be doing all your work, as assigned, on time, as instructed? Well, it depends. Do you want to be a Senior Specialist or do you want to be a Manager? Do you want to be Mr. Reliable, or do you want to be Mr. Visibility? Because doing exactly what you are assigned is great for stability, but not so much for promotions.

You need to do all your work on time, but you need to do it better than your instructions. You need to solve problems that other people didn't even realize were problems until you've solved them. You need to make a difference to the company. That's how you gain visibility. Trust me, you'll be invited to the meetings once you start giving them a reason why you need to be there. And that reason is going to come through what you do, not what your title is or who is issuing the invitations.

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