The Complete Guide to Expanding your Responsibilities at Work (And Getting Noticed)

By Evan Harris, Communications Committee

Have you ever been in a meeting, heard about a new client or task and thought: I want to work on that! Or a co-worker always seems to bag the really rewarding and exciting projects?

Growth, whether as a young professional or someone who is more experienced, should be at the forefront of your trajectory. But how do you actually expand your role? Short of jumping careers and starting from square one (which has a time and place), here are some easy tips to help you get going.

Go and ask. No, really. Stop reading this, find your manager or a co-worker and say, “I want to work on this.” Even as a political science major, I learned about the funny sounding thing called Occam’s Razor where the simplest theory is typically the best. Same rule applies here: Just go ask. Even if you get a no or a “Sorry there’s no budget for that,” you are making yourself top of mind. Suppose the answer is maybe, don’t forget to be prepared to answer why adding you on to a client or project will be beneficial.

Learn from an office colleague or find a mentor. I am stealing this from one of the great breakout sessions at the 2018 Metro EDGE Emerge Summit – Ask someone to be your mentor. Pick a senior work colleague or an outside contact that will help you navigate this new path. Having trouble deciding who to pick or how to ask? There are plenty of friendly, helpful, and successful people in the EDGE organization who would love to help you find the perfect fit.

Give your internal work a boost. Do you change your work deliverables depending on the manager? Unless you work in a structured profession – law, science, academia – you should think about where that deliverable will go. Not all managers are created equal and many have different expectations when it comes to a finished product. A great piece of advice I once heard is to treat your boss like the client. Would you give the client something without a good proofread? Like it or not, we are all in the people business. Understanding how they like a draft deliverable or project goes a long way.

Double-down on your strengths. I am a big fan of go-getters, like Mr. Gary Vaynerchuk. If you’ve never heard of him, please go Google his name, put in some headphones (he sometimes swears) and listen up. One of Mr. Vaynerchuck’s mantras is doubling-down on your strengths and pushing aside your weaknesses. While that type of thinking may be getting more popular, I still wouldn’t recommend telling your manager that. The message here is a timeless business mantra – Only focus on doing what you love. Instead of putting time and energy into something you aren’t good at, keep focusing on your strengths.  

Aside from finding a mentor or doubling down on a business philosophy, what are some best practices you’ve used to nab an exciting project or new job task?