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Every boss wants employees who do their jobs well. But even among highly competent employees, there are distinctions.
Here are 10 tips for making sure you‘re on the boss’s A list:

1. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. Especially at the beginning of your relationship – that is, when either you or the boss is new to the job – err on the side of giving your boss too much information and asking too many questions.
“There’s no such thing as a dumb question,” says Marianne Adoradio, a Silicon Valley recruiter and career counselor. “Look at it as information gathering.”
Don’t keep up the constant stream of communication unless your boss likes it, though. It’s best to ask directly whether you’re giving the boss enough information or too much.

2. Acknowledge what the boss says. Bosses appreciate “responsive listening,” says John Farner, principal of Russell Employee Management Consulting. When youir boss asks you to do something or suggests ways for you to improve your work, let her know you heard.

3. Collaborate. When your boss has a new idea, respond to it in a constructive way instead of throwing up roadblocks.
“Be willing to brainstorm ways to get something done,” says Michael Beasley, principal of Career – Crossings and a leadership and career development coach.

4. Build relationships. You’ll make your boss look good if you establish a good rapport with your department’s customers, whether they’re inside the company or outside. Bring back what you learn – about ways to offer better customer service, for example – to your boss. This is also helpful for your own career development.
“Everybody wins in the long run,” Adoradio says.

5. Understand how you fit in. Is your boss detail-oriented, or someone who keeps his head in the clouds?
“The boss’s personality is just incredibly important,” says Norm Meshriy, a career counselor and principal of Career Insights.
Equally important is understanding what your boss wants in an employee. It may be, for example, that a boss who is detail-oriented will expect his employees to be as well. But a boss who has no time for details may actually appreciate an employee who does.

6. Learn the boss’s pet peeves. If your manager has said repeatedly that she hates being interrupted first thing in the morning, don’t run to her office to give her a project update when you first get in.

7. Anticipate the boss’s needs. Once you have worked with your boss for a while, you should be able to guess what information he would want before approving your purchase order, for example.
If you provide it ahead of time, “that’s a gold star,” Farner adds.

8. Think one level up. You still need to do your own job, of course. But when managers consider who deserves a promotion, they look for people who understand the issues that their bosses face.

9. Open yourself to new ways of doing things. When your boss comes to you with a new idea, don’t simply dismiss it. If you don’t think it will work, offer to discuss it further in “a mature, responsible, adult-like way,” Beasley says.

10. Be engaged in your work. Arguing with your boss over every request is not a good strategy, but neither is simply shrugging your shoulders and agreeing with everything your boss says. “The manager would like to see an engaged individual,” Beasley says. That means both showing enthusiasm for your work and speaking up when you see room for improvement.

Moving out of the mid-career morass
If you have at least 10 years of experience in a particular field, job hunting in the current market presents a special challenge. You’re beyond entry-level in terms of experience – and salary expectations – yet you’re not quite ready for the executive suite, either.
In this tough job market, you could fall between the cracks of employers seeking low-cost, green trainees, and more proven managers to right their corporate ships.
Here are ways to negotiate this in-between status and take a positive, next career step.

Don’t erase your dates
Instead of taking the dates off your resume to seem younger, embrace your experience, by preparing an “accomplishment – based resume,” says Rachelle J. Canter, president of RJC Associates.
“Show that the extra years provide critical achievements and seasoning that a younger competitor cannot hope to attain,” says Canter, author of “Make the Right Career Move.”

Right resume for the right Job
At the same time, it’s perfectly acceptable to develop different versions of your resume tailored to different positions, according to career coach Rebecca Kiki Weingarten.
“For each job, you don’t need to list all of your skills,” Weingarten says. “Just include what’s relevant to whatever they’re looking for. You don’t want to overwhelm employers. When you go for an interview, you can mention extra skills and experience.’

Honesty really is the best policy
If you’re applying for a position for which you may be overqualified, address the issue head-on in a cover letter, recommends life and career coach Shawn Driscoll.
“Don’t leave it to the resume screener to jump to conclusions,” Driscoll says.
“Maybe, you are looking to diversify your career experience, and so you‘re willing to take a step back or a pay cut. Say so, then, sell your experience and your results.”

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