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Unsung Hero or MVP: What Workplace Superlative Best Describes You?

Hannah Morgan

Starting a new job or internship this summer? Before you step into your new place of work, think about the legacy you want to leave. It's never too early to think about the impact you want to make and how you want your peers and management to perceive you. Likewise, it's never too late to alter your behavior and establish a positive and memorable reputation.

No matter what your past legacy was, you have the opportunity to create a new one. Rather than focus on what you need to fix, your weaknesses and flaws, choose to lead from a position of power by accentuating your natural talents. Whether you're starting a new job or holding on to one, set a new course. Review the list below and think about which award will fit most comfortably with your strengths and motivation.

1. Unsung hero. You may have strong organizational skills or excel at managing details. Are you the type of person who does your best work behind the scenes? The unsung hero award goes to players, like you, who modestly make a difference. You don't do it for the recognition. You're probably the type of employee who says "I was just doing my job."

Success tip: When you find yourself with extra time in your day, look for the opportunity to help someone. Offer to pitch in on a special project or help a teammate. Not only is your willingness to help appreciated, it can also set you apart as an invaluable asset. Be sure you have completed your own work to the highest standards before going the extra mile.

2. Customer appreciation award. Both internal and external customers love you. Your ability to listen with an open mind and help resolve problems is a desirable skill. Whenever possible, look for the chance to delight your customers. You can resolve an issue ahead of schedule, give more than your customers ask for or keep customers up-to-date on your progress. A word of caution when trying to serve: Always adhere to company guidelines. Your customer-service strengths apply to almost every job you'll ever have from this point forward.

Success tip: Be sure you collect the raving testimonials from satisfied customers and share them with your manager.

3. Best in class. You can't compete against everyone. This may be the reason carmakers use "best in class" designations. It allows a vehicle to stand out in its appropriate category. Is your category "new hire," "accounting," "team leader" or something else? Think about where you are in your career and organization and then think about how you can stand out in your category. You can use your job-specific knowledge and dedication to your field to set yourself apart. Consider one of these ideas: attend a professional conference to keep up to date on new trends, volunteer to develop content for the new hire orientation or offer to deliver training for your team. Overachieve in whatever category or class in which you want to receive recognition.

Success tip: Talk to your manager about ways you can help raise the knowledge level within your department or group. Once you've completed your project or assignment, don't forget to ask for a recommendation on LinkedIn from your manager and teammates.

4. MVP. The most valuable player award goes to the best-performing athlete in a game, someone who outshines all other players. You can take advantage of your confidence, hustle, dedication or effort to bask in the glory of being a star. Use your innate strengths in problem-solving or taking initiative to make a difference. Step forward to lead a project or take on a challenging issue.

Success tip: No one ever achieves greatness alone. Be sure you give credit and show your appreciation to your colleagues. Be humble and show gratitude.

5. Best tech gadget of the year. No, you aren't a gadget, but you know how to get the most from technology. You naturally gravitate toward shiny new apps and your friends and family may already consider you their go-to tech genius. Why not carry your expertise over to the workplace? Keep in mind you may not be the only employee in your organization with great tech skills. Share your reviews of apps and software solutions among your teammates, and perhaps your entire organization.

Success tip: Partner up with the other gurus for a greater overall impact and visibility. And always be sure to show the financial impact or efficiency gained through using the new technology.

Hannah Morgan writes and speaks on career topics and job search trends on her blog Career Sherpa. She co-authored "Social Networking for Business Success," and has developed and delivered programs to help job seekers understand how to look for work better.

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