How to make your skillset stand out in the office.

While navigating the waters of my first ‘big girl job’ over the past year, one of the biggest things I struggled with was finding a way to differentiate myself from the rest of my coworkers.

I noticed that a few of the go-to people on my team were given a lot of extra work, recognition, and opportunities simply because they specialized in a certain technique or skill.

It isn’t necessarily that they are any better or smarter than anyone else on the team, they had just done a good job of marketing themself as the “it” person for Excel, or certifications, or interesting tech topics.

Being a PR major, I could see the tactics that some of my team members were simple publicity. Of course, I wanted in on that, but I had no idea where to start since I was in a tech company and extremely new to tech world.

Assess your environment.

It is said that the best way to create a good product is to find a problem, create a product that solves the problem, and the rest will take care of itself.

The same can be said about finding a niche, but a little differently:

Find a hole in the organization, team, etc. and see what you can do to fill that hole.

Maybe the you are seeing that your team is spending money on resources you don’t need and you are able to cut them.

Or maybe your team/company does a lot of cool events that aren’t being documented and you like to take pictures.

Here is an example from my work life:

I have a minor in Journalism. My team has a newsletter that is published every quarter. I joined the newsletter team and started contributing, eventually being named editor of the newsletter.

To be able to assess your environment, you will need to pay close attention.

Listen carefully.

Whether you know it or not, your boss is probably giving you clues to the problems he is facing. Sometimes those are handed down from his boss.

In the end, finding your niche should be about what you bring to the table to help your team and your boss succeed at their jobs.

Listen for details that your boss shares with you.

My boss said, “Oh great! You joined the newsletter team! Our VP loves to know what goes on and really liked the last edition of the newsletter we sent her.”

Translation: my boss wants to use the newsletter to keep our VP updated on the projects we have going on.

After you start picking up on a few details about your organization, you can start to form a better picture of the gap that is present in your team/company.

Connect the dots.

Once you start being intentional with looking for ‘wholes’ in your organization, you may start to piece together a larger picture.

This is when it starts to become clear what plan of action you can create.

My organization started asking all the teams within it to start utilizing social media because it was a good way to connect and keep our superiors informed with what was going within our teams.

Ding! Ding! Ding! You are finally starting to see how everything is playing off of each other and by now, you are probably thinking of a solution for the ‘problem’, or rather, an opportunity.

Build a plan.

Now is the time you can start writing your ideas out.

Maybe you notice a certification online that complements the plan or educates you on how to ‘fill the whole’ you see. Take it. Certifications are the easiest way to set yourself away from the rest of the field.

I wrote out a communications plan that involved the writing we were already doing with the newsletter and implementing it into social media.

Once you have your ‘how-to’ ready to go, you can take it to your boss.

Present it.

First things first, don’t be afraid to present something you believe is beneficial. Even if your boss doesn’t like the plan or does not see the benefit in it, it is showing that you care about the organization.

If your plan is met with hesitation, dismissiveness, or just a plain out ‘no, thank you’, accept it and reinforce the statement that you are wanting to do anything you can to see the organization succeed.

You can even add a follow up statement asking where they could best use your help, or if there is a skill that you can develop to help them.

I presented my plan and was told that he would look it over with a few of my other superiors and he didn’t get back to me for two months.

Or, you could have the best news and your plan get adopted right away! In that case, you are well on your way to establishing your niche in your organization!

In the case that you were told no, have patience and then act when you can.

Know when to go.

Sometimes, even after rejection, the opportunity will present itself for you to put your plan into action.

My boss told me two months after my plan was pushed to the side that he had a photo that he wanted to post, but didn’t know how to go about doing it.

I quickly set my plan into action in front of him, then recorded and kept him up to date with the results. He could see how the plan I had created would be beneficial for our team, and for him.

When this happens, you will be right on track with those that had their plan adopted at the presentation.

Now, you have to cement that you are the go-to person on this topic.

Consistency.

After you make a great first impression with your skill set, you need to continue to be consistent in it.

If you present an idea, but then don’t do anything about it once it is accepted, you will not be set apart.

The thing that you created could be passed off to someone else to manage.

That is why you need to stay on top of your idea and assert your voice when needed.

I wrote new articles and created a following on our company’s social media pages to maintain consistency.

If your ideas, plans, etc don’t get accepted, making yourself known as the person that wants to help in any way possible can be considered your temporary niche. The way you get that to happen is to appropriately remind your superiors that that is the case.

What other ways have you found to establish your niche in the office? Let me know in a comment! I’m always looking for ways to improve!