Are you invisible?

Photo by: Bootup Labs / CC BY-NC-SA

D. had the perfect job, or so he thought. He was surprised when out of the blue, an external recruiter scouted him for a fabulous position in Nairobi. What happened?

D. hadn’t been actively job searching. But when the managing director of a major development institution had looked for a team lead in Kenya, and mentioned this to a colleague, that colleague announced she knew the perfect fit. One month later, D. found himself with bags packed, leaving a good job for one that promised to be even better.

D. had managed his career incredibly well, and he had great visibility.

What do I mean by visible? Being visible means three things: The people in your organization know you and how you contribute, your clients have the same awareness, and more broadly, peers in your field know who you are and how much impact you make in your work.

Too often, individuals put their nose to the grindstone and assume that a good job will be noticed.

So, how do you raise your visibility as part of your professional development strategy? Think outside the box: Take time to write emails to your manager at the end of a week or a project, summarizing what you have achieved and keeping them informed of your progress. Seek an opportunity to have lunch or coffee with people you respect in the organization, seeking their advice and counsel – and then show them how you follow through. Accept opportunities to speak at conferences or panels. Volunteer to do the job that nobody really wants to do – to fix the nagging problem that needs tackling.

As one senior human resources professional at an international organization put it recently: “When I am considering candidates for a position, I look for people who have made it their business to make a visible contribution in their area of expertise – either by volunteering for a task force or committee, or following through on something, or impressing those around them with a stellar comment at a staff meeting. Once I see a solid track record that means results, I know this person is worth taking a risk on.”

So, this month, make a point to jot down three new ideas to raise your profile. First, decide who you want to be visible to, and then plan accordingly. Think about who you would hire if you were given free reign to put a working group together – and your task is to make yourself one of those people in the minds of others.

Read last week’s Career Matters.

If you have a question about developing your own career, let us know. We’ll do our best to help you read the HR tea leaves, make that transition into the field or back home, and find that elusive work-life balance.

About the author

  • Nina Segal Kennedy

    Nina Segal occasionally blogs on career matters for both job seekers and HR employees for Devex. She works as an international career consultant with a broad range of nonprofit and international organizations, including UNICEF, UNFPA, the U.N. Secretariat, IFAD, FAO, Realizing Rights and the Ford Foundation, as well as individuals in the NGO community. Nina has a particular interest in building networks and improving access to career opportunities for underrepresented groups.