Standing out in the workplace (for the right reasons) is often easier said than done.
According to former Mondelez exec Bonin Bough, getting noticed for a promotion means working smarter — not harder.
But that doesn't mean it has to be complicated, according to Bonin Bough, host of CNBC's " Cleveland Hustles " and former chief media and e-commerce officer at Mondelez International .
For Bough, who rose steadily up the ranks at corporate giants like PepsiCo , Kraft and Mondelez, getting noticed for a promotion meant working smarter rather than harder.
"When you're sitting inside of a large organization, not everybody gets to see your successes or how good you are, so you have to make sure you have the right advocates inside that building," the former Fortune "40 under 40" executive said.
"Because when people are making decisions about your career and the next step, they're not inviting you in the room. Those decisions are being made almost in isolation of you."
And while it can seem like an employer already has a candidate in mind when a position opens up, that might not always be the case. According to a recent CareerBuilder survey of over 1,500 hiring managers, almost half (48 percent) of employers reported struggling to find candidates to fill vacancies.
Part of taking advantage of that as a promotion-seeker is making sure you're aware of the opportunity and ready for it, Bough says.
He shares three often-overlooked strategies that can help you stand out:
Make friends with HR
"Most people don't spend as much time with HR as they should," Bough said. "Here's the great thing: HR knows what every leader thinks about you in an organization. More importantly, they know the next roles. So who do you think should be your best friend?"
Get an executive coach
As overlooked as capitalizing on human resources might be, Bough lists executive coaching as "one of the most underutilized tools in the entire arsenal." He notes that even superstar LeBron James, the executive producer of "Cleveland Hustles," has a coach.
"Think about the opportunity to constantly have somebody thinking about your best interests [and] how to make sure that you operate better inside of a situation — that's invaluable."
Pay attention to your professional brand
Lastly, Bough says that the power of branding shouldn't be something exclusively reserved for companies themselves. Instead, it's a tool for every professional — even entry-level employees — to differentiate themselves.
"I don't care what age you are. If this is your very first job, I still want you to be thinking about 'what is my professional brand,'" he said. "Ultimately, perception is reality. So how you're perceived really determines whether your career will accelerate or not."