As a woman, all you want is to feel accomplished in your career, and there are many career strategies that can help you do this. You want to love your job, go to work, kick-ass, and take names every day; But, instead, you're tired, underutilized, and frustrated.
You have so much talent to offer. You have great ideas. Yet you aren't taken seriously. No one listens to you. Others take credit for YOUR ideas.
Or worse...Your career is stalled, and your skills are stagnating. Maybe you are experiencing underemployment. And you ask yourself, "Why does this keep happening?", "What am I doing wrong here?" "Maybe if I were more like one of the guys, it'd be better." But there is just one problem—you are not a guy.
And trying to act like "one of the guys" for 40 hours a week is awkward, draining, and disingenuous to ourselves, our team, and our company. Not to mention women receive backlash for trying to take on more male-dominant characteristics.
So what can we do? Instead of trying to be more like men to succeed, we should focus on our strengths. The best career advice for women is to be comfortable in their skin while being a rock star at work.
Kick-ass career strategies to start now
We know what it's like to feel frustrated and held back, and there's a lot of career advice for women out there. However, if you need to start making changes now, then these 9 career tips are the perfect way to get started!
1. Quit holding yourself back - this is business so play to win
Working isn't like going to the park. Where it's open to everyone, anyone can stay as long as they want, and no one will ask you to leave. It's a job with company rules, standards, and politics. And trust and believe that they will ask you to leave if you don't perform. Nothing personal; it's only business.
Our parents taught us to make friends and be thoughtful of others. But there is nothing shady or repulsive about wanting more, marketing yourself, making sure folks know your worth, or seeking opportunities to give more to your company. The same way you would encourage a coworker or praise them for hard work is the same thing you should do for yourself.
We have to change our mindset about competition. Your winning doesn't mean that everyone else loses. So make yourself visible—volunteer to help whenever you can and use it as an opportunity to showcase your skills. One of the most vital career tips to remember is to stop holding yourself back!
2. Stop working so hard
One of the most common job tips is to work harder, but that's not always the answer. Women believe if we just keep our head down and keep working hard, everyone will -eventually- notice our hard work and reward us appropriately. That'd be great if it worked that way. But it doesn't.
There is a reason they say business deals are made on the golf course, and it's because a large part of our job has nothing to do with the work we do for the company. Networking and building relationships are also a part of our job. If we are too busy working and miss the lunch opportunities, coffee break chit chat, or after-work happy hour, then teammates and bosses won't get to know us. Again, visibility is vital.
People recommend trusted peers that they know for positions, not just people who work hard. So try to catch up and network with your coworkers whenever you can. Networking is one of the best career strategies you can use to boost your career!
3. Learn the rules of the game
Remember how clumsy you looked when you played a game for the first time? Well, when you fail to understand critical players, acceptable behaviors, and how things operate in the current state of the union, it's like having your awkward, clumsy first day ... every day.
So, observe and write down the unwritten rules of your workplace. What is the process for getting things pushed through? What do folks value when making a decision? Who are the influencers? How do influencers behave? What are the expectations of the high performers and high rollers? These questions help you figure out how to navigate your world and get things done.
It's especially true if your voice isn't getting heard. Knowing key players means you can leverage an influencer as a 'big stick' to get people in line when your carrot approach doesn't work. It can also prevent you from becoming frustrated and making rash career decisions because you will be able to know how to handle certain situations. Learning how things operate and what people are the most influential is one of the most important career strategies to master.
4. Use your superpower
This is one of our favorite job tips for women. Your emotional intelligence is your secret weapon to winning at work. It's your ability to 1) identify and manage your own emotions, 2) pick up on the emotions of others and manage them, and 3) in doing so - build trust and grow influence. In fact, many studies suggest that women have an edge over men in this category.
And this is a huge benefit in the workplace. Because workers with high EQ are better able to work in teams, adjust to change, anticipate needs and be flexible.
So it pays to be a chameleon and change your message and your delivery based on your audience. And be willing and ready to do what's needed. Recognize when a coworker needs nurturing to figure out the right answer for themselves, and when you need to gut-punch them (figuratively, of course) and call them out on their bad behavior.
5. Ditch mentors and find influencers
I know I'm not following the conventional career advice for women here. So I'll ask you. Do you need a mentor to give you professional help and personal guidance or an influencer to bring you opportunities, advocate for you, introduce you to folks who can help you, help you develop professional goals, and tries to open doors for you? Basically, put you on the radar of those who can help launch your career?
If your stomach just dropped and you're thinking, 'Bring opportunities?!?!? I'm not ready. That's scary! Nope, I need nice safe guidance' then think of this as gently shoving you out the nest so you can fly.
So often, self-doubt sneaks in, telling us we aren't ready or need more of something before we are ready for the next level when we are perfectly ready for action! Don't hide behind the need for a mentor.
Not only that, female mentors/role models are hard to find, and some are so busy staying on top they don't have time for mentoring, so what are you going to do? We can't fold our arms and sit this round out.
Identify the most influential people in your firm and use them as a backdrop for improvement. Join the appropriate affinity group - for young professionals, people of color, or for women because they usually have seasoned, more experienced folks who are hungry to help others.
Do all the heavy lifting, set up the meeting, the agenda, and come prepared. Remember, if you weren't ready, they wouldn't stake their reputation on you by pushing you for a job you couldn't handle. You'll realize that finding influencers is one of the most beneficial career strategies you can use.
6. Don't act like a guy, act like you
Playing like a girl and winning is being true to your personality. Don't hide or discredit what you bring to the table. Our career advice for women is that you can be strong and assertive and still be feminine. You have the tools to kick butt without pretending to be someone else all day long.
You're just waiting for someone to tell you it's okay. So here you go. You have permission to be yourself, let your light shine, and bring your best skills to the table. Being authentically you is one of the most important job tips you should use!
7. Dress for the job you want, not the job you have
One of the best career tips I was given was from an HR Trainer. She told us to dress for the job we wanted, not the job we had. This simple advice means if you want to be the manager, but you're starting as a bank teller or clerk, dress like you are the manager.
Dressing professionally is important because it displays professionalism and respect. Believe it or not, dressing professionally makes you stand out and gives a good first impression which is why it's important to do it for interviews too.
8. Have a positive mindset
One of the simplest yet most powerful career tips to start is to be more positive! It's easy to get caught up in negativity, but it's important to your well-being and career to maintain a positive mindset. Being positive can help you excel in your career because you will have the right attitude when challenges arise.
Sometimes this can help if you are seeking to get a raise or promotion. Of course, you don't want to stay at a job that isn't fulfilling you or paying you enough but having the right mindset can either help you excel where you are or help you find a career that suits you better!
9. Expand your skills
Learning new skills is one of the most beneficial career strategies to apply. When you take the initiative and learn new skills, you make yourself more valuable to your company. This can help you negotiate a raise or even qualify you for a promotion.
Research what skills you need for whatever position you seek to attain and check out courses to help you learn them. This will give you a cutting edge when being considered for the job. Knowledge is power, and that in itself is a huge career win!
Use these career strategies to succeed
These career strategies can help you get out of a rut and work towards excelling in your career. You mustn't let anyone hold you back, including yourself! Remember, your talent and skills are valuable, and you deserve to work somewhere that values your worth and pays you what you deserve. So start these awesome career tips to begin kicking ass at work!