Sure, you could poison your coworkers or sleep with your boss, but those tactics are uninspired and, well, illegal. Instead, stay out of trouble and try these simple ways to get ahead at work.
Make yourself indispensable
This is easy, but unattractive to many: You become indispensable the second you let go of your job description. When something needs to be done, just do it. Yes, even if it's not your job. It may be the receptionist's job, or the janitor's job, or the person-you-can-stand's job. Suck it up and do it yourself. Corporations are having to downsize, and your ability to execute several jobs well is becoming more valuable in many cases than your college degree. Make your boss think, "What are we ever going to do if she quits?"
There is no I in team
You've been hearing this since preschool: Play nice with the other kids. Share your toys. Now that you're an adult, the sandbox still exists; the people in it have just gotten bigger. If someone is carrying a big load at work and you've stalled out a bit, offer to help. If you're running an errand, ask if anyone needs anything while you're out. Your willingness to assist others, especially in a me-me-me society, will make you stand out.
Raise your hand if you hate this word. We all do, but it has become a necessary evil -- simply because it's highly effective. Networking doesn't just grow your business; it gives you a vast pool of people you know and trust to help you get a job done, making you look like a superstar. When a project needs to be done and you can say, "Oh yeah, I know some people who know some people who can help us out with that," you assume the role of problem-solver -- and problem-solvers are a valuable asset to any organization.
Break your back for six to 12 months setting yourself apart, and then just ask your boss for what you want. Your boss will be impressed that you are driven and goal oriented, and you'll have a specific course of action after this conversation.
Every workplace has its ongoing challenges. Pick one that fits with your skill set and tackle it without being asked. Research some solutions on the Internet, or read a couple books. Don't be afraid to pitch a few solutions. Whether your ideas fly or flop, you'll be given points for caring enough to apply your time and energy to an ongoing problem.
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