Professional recognition is a great way to expand one’s career, develop networking relationships, build confidence, and demonstrate to employers the value you add to an organization. There are many rewards associated with professional recognition, but obtaining them can be a challenge. Luckily, many opportunities exist to gain professional recognition, and you should jump at every chance.

Written Recognition

One of the easiest ways to obtain recognition is to ask for letters or email correspondence when complimented by a customer or peer. As a manager, I often receive calls from customers regarding my staff. When a customer calls to praise an employee, I always ask the caller to send me something in writing. Next, I share the compliment with the employee, his or her coworkers, and my superiors. This action demonstrates that I recognize his or her contributions and that I  understand how valued the employee truly is.

Occasionally, people will submit written recognition on their own; nonetheless, you cannot be afraid to ask for it. A simple “Thank you, would you mind sending a note to my supervisor?” can become the jumping off point for your career. In fact, these communications are even more important as you begin your career. Don’t forget to maintain a copy of them for your files.

Diversify Skills and Knowledge

In these competitive times, it can be easy to just “fit in”. This is fine for the day-to-day tasks, but at some point, take the leap and rise above your peers. What do you offer your department or organization that your coworkers do not? There are several ways to do this that will benefit your career.

Certifications are an easy, often inexpensive, way to separate yourself from your peers and be recognized, especially if you are the only person with this credential. There are an abundance of certifications in every industry, and with so many available online, course work can have minimal impact on your daily routine. Engaging in training and certification can not only propel you ahead of your peers, but it also shows initiative and drive, two characteristics leaders look for when hiring.

Another easy way to diversify your skills is to volunteer. Volunteering does not mean participating in every project, task, or event occurring in your workplace, though the greater your involvement, the more opportunities you will have to build skills and be recognized.  Find organizations outside of your workplace that are looking for volunteers with your skillset or those you wish to develop. Many states and cities have websites dedicated to promoting volunteer opportunities; at the very least, the organizations in need of volunteers do. These experiences can often turn into dynamic events, both personally and professionally. You will not only develop new skills, but will also expand your network and acquire experience to add to your resume. Even brief networking interactions can produce a sizeable return on investment for your career.

In addition, the skills you gain volunteering may provide an opportunity to teach peers or lead teams, which will catch the attention of your superiors by demonstrating that you know your job and your industry!

Get Recognized

Professional recognition can catapult your career in multiple ways. It highlights your dedication to career and employer, encourages development of lifelong skills, and builds confidence in the workplace. You need only to identify the areas that you are comfortable in and move forward, be it training classes, certification, volunteering, or customer service. When you feel you have earned it, do not hesitate to meet with your boss to discuss your career advancement. Once you obtain the recognition; you should reap the rewards as well.