Dear J.T. & Dale: I just started a new job and feel invisible. I know folks are busy and I'm just an entry-level person, but I want to grow my career. However, nobody will give me the time of day. - Mimi
Dale: Thank you for that question, Mimi. Too many entry-level people are your opposite - they're yearning to be invisible.
J.T.: Still, it's not your co-workers' job to make you stand out. It's your career, so you need to find ways to get people's attention. There's a great new book out by Emily Bennington and Skip Lineberg, Effective Immediately: How to Fit In, Stand Out, and Move Up at Your First Real Job. In it, I found a great section called Thirteen Ways to Raise Your Profile. My personal favorite is called Don't Be Meat in the Seat, and highlights how you need to build relationships with co-workers in order to get noticed.
Dale: I agree it's not your co-workers' job to help you stand out, but should you get yourself a great boss, he or she will encourage you to find a specialty and develop it. However, the average boss is ... well, average. So, odds are, you'll probably have to do it yourself. Early in my career in corporate market research, I followed my interests and began studying advertising testing. I developed some new standards for testing commercials. (This sounds technical, but it wasn't - I was just the first to pull together a history of the company's ad test scores and create a kind of record book.) Meanwhile, I found a consultant who made predictions of what would happen to sales based on various marketing scenarios. I ended up meeting with executives far above my level because I was the company expert on those two topics. The point: It's NOT just the old who you know that matters; the what you know creates introductions to those whos that make all the difference.