Sometimes You Need to Toot Your Own Horn!

Julie Shenkman
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Administrative professionals often work behind the scenes, quietly ensuring that projects run smoothly. That lack of visibility may lead superiors to unwittingly overlook your work or take you for granted. To get ahead at work, it may be necessary to toot your own horn to bring attention to your professional achievements. Before you start bragging, however, plan an approach that highlights your work without alienating everyone in the office.

Raise Awareness

Many administrative professionals work on numerous projects and support multiple people in an organization. Depending on the level of communication at your office, each individual may be completely in the dark about the work you do for others. A skewed understanding of your workload may lead colleagues to underestimate your contributions or feel justified in offloading an unreasonable amount of work on your shoulders. To avoid this scenario, subtly make each person aware of the scope of your responsibilities. Add each current project to your online calendar, and share it with the team. Include a message that emphasizes your desire to give each request your full attention, and ask that each person alert you to stringent deadlines in advance. In doing so, you'll automatically highlight your professional achievements and ensure that the team does not take you for granted.

Use Casual Conversation

One of the easiest ways to toot your own horn is to work small mentions of your professional achievements into conversations. When a colleague makes a request, mention that they caught you at just the right time, since you just finished a major project. If your boss asks about the status of a task, explain where it stands in relation to other key projects. If you have trouble bragging about your own work, couch it with praise for other colleagues. After you've planned a conference, for example, publicly thank a colleague for contacting meeting venues and mention how it freed you up to pin down a superstar keynote speaker. You'll make the other person feel appreciated and bring attention to your own professional achievements at the same time.

Prepare Clear Answers

When you want to increase recognition at work or negotiate a promotion, it is crucial to quantify the impact of your professional achievements. Consider your most important contributions to the team. What problem did you see? What steps did you take to solve the problem? What were the results of your actions? Pare down your answers into a concise and compelling statement. If you revamped the travel-planning system, you might say, "I noticed that the old scheduling method was wasting time and money, so I negotiated a new discount with the airline and consolidated travel-planning tasks to a single staff member. The new process will save us $10,000 this year alone." Keeping your answer short and using specific numbers makes your accomplishment more memorable.

Highlighting your professional achievements requires a careful balance of self-promotion and humility. When you learn to do it with subtlety, you'll ensure that the company recognizes your value and boost your chances of being considered for a promotion.


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