You probably already know that people who project success get treated differently. They’re the ones who get upgraded on airlines; offered introductions to powerful hiring managers; and invited to the most interesting industry events.
But if you’re only halfway up the career rung, there are a few tricks to projecting success that will speed your path to truly having “made it”—and, in turn, open doors to the aforementioned perks.
You’ve heard the expression, “Fake it ‘til you make it,” of course. But you probably haven’t paused to think about exactly how you can project success at work in the name of “faking it".
That’s why I asked Stacy Hayden, an executive career consultant at Dragon Career Services how women can appear instantly more successful at work.
Hayden shared a few shortcuts to projecting a polished, professional, successful image in the workplace (And nope, they don’t involve adding fake language skills to your resume.)
Try these tips, and see if your colleagues and managers subtly start treating you like one of the shining stars at your company. No resume-padding required.
1. Be open to the expertise of others.
“Be open to receiving from others that are experts in what they do— even if their expertise is considered beneath yours according to society,” Hayden suggests.
“Successful people become that way by relying on the expertise of others.”
This means cultivating a relationship with the secretary who can save your skin by reminding you of meetings; asking questions of the tech help-desk intern so you can recover a lost document when alone in the office; and paying attention when your math-minded cousin tells you about tax deductions you could claim.
2. Change your mindset.
Successful people are generally confident, good at finding solutions, and open to taking risks. So start actively cultivating those attributes.
“Have confidence in what you are trying to accomplish by knowing and believing you can take on whatever challenge is presented regardless of your experience, education, and income level,” Hayden advises. “Mentally think of yourself as being successful, and own that as your truth.”
The attitude you bring to work directly affects your productivity levels, as well as whether you’re viewed as a possible leader in your workplace. So check your mood before you step into the office each morning, and leave snide comments and your hot temper at the door.
3. Dress the part.
It’s not fair, but it’s true: People form their first impression of you within seconds of an introduction. If the first thing they notice when you meet is a messy aesthetic (think: worn-out shoes, roots that need a serious dye job and an ill-fitting jacket,) they won’t perceive you as a pulled-together, I’ve-got-this kind of professional.
“Dress for success…which fashion-wise can mean different things to women since we are unique and have our own ‘brand,’” Hayden says.
“If you look in the mirror and like what you see, you will look successful to others.”
So take pride in your appearance, or do what you need to do (i.e. eating healthily and exercising regularly) to feel more confident in your own skin.
Your personal grooming also sends subtle signals about respect, according to Sylvia Ann Hewlett, author of .
"You certainly don't respect the client if you show up with soup on your tie or bitten nails, anything to make you look unkempt," Hewlett says. Same goes if your hair is sending off just-rolled-out-of-bed-with-a-hangover vibes.
4. Invest your time wisely.
Ever noticed how successful people are all about planning their time? That’s because they know the value of time, so they think of their schedule in terms of time investment. As a result, they’re most likely to choose to spend time in situations where they’re learning, building their business—or else truly relaxing.
So think twice before you start procrastinating at work, pushing on with a book you’re really not interested in, or accepting invitations to have a drink with colleagues you don’t particularly click with or need to impress.
“You shouldn’t be spending your leisure time in places where you’re the smartest guy in the room,” Entrepreneur.com suggests. “You should be spending your time in places where you’re challenged, sharpened, and cultivated.”
5. Write your own label.
When a hiring manager or colleague is talking about you or your skill set, they’re going to come up with some shorthand way to describe you. It’s simply human nature to apply labels to others—so would you rather be “the one who sits by the window... who is that, anyway?” or, “the one who lived in Canada and knows HTML?” (Erm, the answer is the latter. Definitely the latter.)
Entrepreneur suggests you write your own story —on LinkedIn, on your own online portfolio, on Twitter, and on your company website if possible. When “labelling” yourself by writing your bio, make sure to include your qualifications, highlight your special achievements, and give a sense of what you’re all about.
And for the love of God, use spellcheck. There’s nothing worse than reading about how somebody has “acheived” a lot in their career.