10 Commandments for Working Women
We all want to reach the pinnacle of our passions, to make a difference in the world, and to achieve our goals, but how do we get there? The path to a successful career can be an obstacle course, so it will take some defensive driving techniques to steer it in the right direction. If you want the ride to be a smooth one, you need to take the wheel. With that in mind, here are a few things to help working women on their way.
This rule applies to everything in life, but particularly in the professional world. Why? Well, nothing smells worse than a phony; we’re all for the “fake it till you make it” philosophy, but there is a big difference between exuding confidence and lying about it. You should never pretend to be something you’re not, particularly in business, because you will be caught eventually, and no one wants to see that happen. Push it forward with your own, distinct personality and skill set. There’s nothing more attractive than that, and you’re the only one with that combination. It’s a win-win situation.
We can’t stress just how important this is. If you want to earn more money, then you have to get this skill down stat. If you don’t know how, then start by asking your peers and senior colleagues how they did it in their own career. The number one rule is to always negotiate for more money when you first get a job offer. It’s only going to be harder the later you leave it, and your salary increases will likely be a percentage of your starting salary, so summon the courage and negotiate from the start. If women want to close that ever-growing gender pay gap, then we need to take responsibility for closing it. One tip is to ask for your prospective employer’s “best first offer” (the most they are able to give you) when you’re taking compensation for a new job, so they assume they won’t need to negotiate a higher salary.
How much do you know about yourself? What are you good at? What are your best traits? Be honest and write them down in a working list. Keep it next to you, and outline your accomplishments and anything new you discover about yourself, or feel proud of, during the day. Then read it back to yourself and try not to smile. You’re pretty awesome, aren’t you? This simple trick will help instill a quiet confidence and be your secret weapon to negotiate better deals, raise your hand in the next boardroom meeting, and get that big promotion.
If you don’t speak up, who will? You’re not the only employee in your office or workplace, so don’t expect your peers to recognize your hard work if you don’t share it with them. Discovering your voice is about learning how to communicate your talents to those around you. No one cares more about your achievements than you do, so be proactive and voice them to those higher up. They key is not to overdo it; subtlety is crucial, as is the timing of when you tell people. Pick your moments wisely and seize the opportunity.
The people who excel in any company are the ones who are self-aware and understand where their skills can be best used. When you know your own strengths, you’re better equipped to apply them. Just as you should know what you’re good at, you also need to be aware of where you can improve, and how to act on those weaknesses. We are only human, and we all have flaws, but it’s how you address them that makes all the difference. Evaluate your own performance often, write down what you need to build on, and act. It’s as simple as that. If you want more earning power, then you have to earn it.
It’s a great idea to develop friendships at work. Not only does it build a creative, connected community of people, but it just makes going to work more enjoyable. But also know that there is a time and place for everything, and you should always conduct a high level of professionalism at all times. It’s okay to make jokes with your co-workers, as long as they’re not directed at another colleague or make them feel uncomfortable. Not only is it embarrassing to you and them, but it could also land you in hot water for harassment or bullying.
Don’t miss out on that promotion or be left out of those important meetings again. Set short- and long-term goals from the beginning, and visualize where you see yourself from the get-go. You can’t steer a straight course for success if you don’t know where you’re going. Be realistic in your expectations, though. Understand there will be necessary steps along the way before you reach those major milestones, and congratulate yourself when you make it to the next step.
Being successful in your career is important; it’s a huge part of your life, and you want all that time, energy, and passion to count for something. But don’t forget your personal life, too; it needs just as much attention, and as women, we need to consider what we’ll do when that biological clock starts ticking. Whether you decide to have children or not is completely your prerogative, but you should probably start thinking about it and what your general plan is when, or if, it happens.
It can be tough being told when you’re wrong, or something you did wasn’t as good as it should have been. When it comes to business, nothing should ever be taken as a personal attack. Sometimes it can feel like an arrow to the heart, though, when you open an email from your boss that details his or her disappointment. Learn how to take the critique as par for the creative course; it’s the only way you’re going to improve. Your boss certainly doesn’t need an emotional basket case every time he or she examines your work; simply consider the comments and improve. But also be aware of the delivery, and how often it occurs. There’s a difference between constructive criticism and harassment. If you feel it could be the latter, speak to someone about it.
Overall, women are still getting paid less than their male counterparts, but be patient, because our time is coming. Every day we are seeing more women making major progress in their fields, like Holly Brobst, who recently became Disney’s new CFO and its highest-ranking woman ever. You’re making a difference for all women just by turning up to work every day, using your voice, knowing your skills, and negotiating your salary.
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What career advice do you have for working women? Share it in the comments.