Even in these supposedly enlightened, gender-blind times, it’s not enough for women to be good at what they do. According to University of Maryland psychology professor Michele Gelfand, ladies with their eyes on leadership positions need to ask for what they deserve, though doing so isn’t always easy.
Fortunately, Gelfand and others have contributed to “8 Career Tips for Young Women Who Want to Be the Boss,” a U.S. News & World Report post brimming with excellent advice. The first piece: “promote yourself.” According to Jane Finette, an executive coach at The Coaching Fellowship, females are raised with the belief they should follow the rules and not speak up about themselves. But alerting higher-ups about your hard work and achievements is a crucial way to get ahead, Finette says.
To that end, it helps to “write down achievements,” which is tip No. 2. Life moves fast, and it’s possible for successful women to lose track of all their accomplishments and achievements. By keeping a running log, you’ll have something to show on job interviews and during discussions regarding raises and promotions. Plus, the list’s very existence will remind you of your value.
The third tip is a toughie for many women: “ask for more.” As Gelfand says, men tend to feel more comfortable asking for raises and promotions than women do, and that’s why it’s essential for ladies to master the skill. In fact, Gelfand recommends they take it “as seriously as they do finance or accounting, because this is really going to help the bottom line of their salary and of their advancement.”
Gelfand also strongly suggests women “find mentors.” While many females may feel like they need to climb the ladder alone and prove they can hack it without any help, there’s a lot to be said for having a trusted advisor who can help guide you and offer feedback.
While women shouldn’t feel like they have to lone-wolf it, they should “take risks.” That’s according to Brag!: The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It author Peggy Klaus, who says women tend to underestimate their value and second-guess themselves before jumping on opportunities. Klaus says women shouldn’t refrain from applying for jobs they fear they’re not 100 percent qualified for. Instead, they should know their strengths and “use them as leverage” when pursuing opportunities.
The next tip comes from Denver-based career coach Jenn DeWall: “make strategic choices.” According to DeWall, women who are eager to prove themselves in male-dominated environments sometimes take on too much, and by saying “yes” to everything, they spread themselves too thin. Before accepting an assignment, DeWall says, women should think about what they have to gain.
It also pays to “make a game plan,” says Kathryn Heath, a managing partner at the consulting firm Flynn Heath Holt Leadership. As Heath says, many women feel uncomfortable raising their hands in meetings — especially when they’re one of only a few females seated at the table. By going in with ideas already in mind, Heath says, women can alleviate some of the apprehension and position themselves to assert themselves and make key contributions.
Speaking of being assertive, the final tip in the article is to “use assertive language.” This means avoiding phrases like “Is this OK?” and apologizing all the time. DeWall also says women should tell supervisors they want to do things (take on new projects, etc.) rather than ask if they can. It’s all about projecting confidence.