A client recently asked me what was the most meaningful career success for women.
She was a young woman in her mid-20s and just starting out. I have had 30 years out in the work world and she wanted my insight.
After some reflection, I realized that there are 5 things that I would advise any young women to be as she takes on the crazy world of career building.
1. Be self-aware.
The most important part of career success is to know who you are and what you want to do.
Many of us just fall into jobs. Our parents encourage us in one direction, our friends in another. Or perhaps we decide to take a job just because it pays well. Sometimes we take a job thinking that it will be temporary while we figure out what we really want to do.
And then we find ourselves stuck. Stuck in a job that we hate.
Let me tell you that if you don’t have a job that you LOVE you will have a hard time achieving career success.
So take the time before you embark on your career search to really examine what you want to be doing for the rest of your life. Take some time and ask yourself a few questions.
What are your best skills and the ones you most enjoy doing?
What kinds of work interests you the most?
How important is making a lot of money?
Do you feel like you want to help change the world?
How important is work/life balance?
Once you have the answers to these questions you can start your job search with a clear vision of what kind of work you want. And getting the job of your dreams is an excellent beginning to achieving career success.
2. Be brave.
I know that this might seem weird in 2017 but many women in the workplace still have a hard time advocating for themselves.
Sheryl Sandberg writes in her book Lean In ‘that women keep themselves from advancing because they don’t have the self-confidence and drive that men do.’
I am not sure that I completely agree with this statement but I know that some elements of it are true.
As women our tendency is to hang back and observe, to reflect before we speak and sometimes to not speak at all. Women are more cautious. Women don’t apply for promotions unless they fit the profile perfectly and are less likely than men to ask for a well-deserved raise.
It is important that women in the workplace today don’t hang back. It is important that women identify who they want to be in the workplace and what they want and go after it with a vengeance.
They must speak up and lead, even in the face of men who might try to push against them. They must believe, deep down, that they CAN do this job and that they will succeed.
3. Be honest.
It is important in all areas of life, but especially in the career world, to be honest. Honest with yourself and with others.
First of all, we must be honest with ourselves. Are we doing our best at work? Are we taking responsibility for getting our job done well and when things go awry are we accepting the blame for our errors? Are we honest with our feelings about our boss and our co-workers? Are we honest about how we feel our careers align with our morals and values? Are we clear that we are doing the right thing for ourselves and our families?
We must also be honest with our co-workers. So many women take on more than they can handle because they don’t believe that anyone else can do it as well as they can. As a result, many women are overworked and overwhelmed.
It is important that we allow ourselves to delegate and share, when necessary, and if our co-workers can’t do the work up to company standards then we must be honest with them and show them how to get things done correctly.
Career success is achieved when women know that they are doing the best job that they can do and that they are doing only their job, not the jobs of others. Being honest will prevent overwhelm and enable you to get the recognition that you deserve in the workplace and thereby achieve heightened career success.
4. Be forward thinking.
It is so easy to become focused on the day-to-day happenings at work that we stop looking forward to the big picture.
Yes, you have your job but your job is part of the larger workplace. How does your job fit in that workplace? What can you do to be more of an asset to that workplace? How could your job expand in the future to include more responsibility and contribution? Is there a future for you outside of this job? Do you have a plan to get there?
It is important that you always keep your head up at work and are forward thinking. Career success will be achieved when you have an idea and a goal and you have a clear plan to work towards it.
5. Be a woman.
Many women believe that in order to be considered equals to men in the workplace we need to act like men. Back in the 70s and 80s, when women were entering the workforce, they wore suits to work, so that they could appear more manly.
Suits are mostly a thing of the past these days but still women tend to try to act like men in the workplace in order to get ahead.
I believe that, rather than act like men, women need to use their skills as a woman to achieve career success.
Women are intuitive. Women can multi-task. Women are excellent communicators. Women are big picture planners. Women have the ability to connect with people on a personal level. Women know how to fly under the radar and get the job done.
So now you see. A woman possesses all of the skills that she needs to be more than successful in her career. She just needs to pull them out of her toolbox and use them. Every day.
Getting meaningful career success advice is vital for any woman entering the workforce.
Women like to get things done, quickly and efficiently, but in the workplace it is essential to look to more experienced women to help them make a plan and achieve success.
Women have all of the skills necessary to achieve that same career success as men they just have to be prepared to use them and use them well. And then, when they add their feminine superpowers to the mix, the sky is the limit.