It is believed that the unique composition of our DNA determines the way we look, how we behave and often what we are predestined to become. I believe that as professional women, we can find and achieve unlimited career and personal success despite what our “female” DNA says. Yes, as professional women, we are raised to be modest, polite, cooperative – and let’s not forget this one – silent – we should be seen, but not heard, right?
Are you guilty of conforming to these “rules”? Do you find yourself hesitating before speaking up in a meeting because you don’t want to be seen as aggressive? Are you holding back on opening sharing your achievements with others because that would make you a bragger? More importantly, are you secretly a “lady in waiting” – you know, you are waiting for your boss to acknowledge your talent, waiting for your company to support your career aspirations or waiting for HR to plan your career path?
Well, I am here to help you break down these mindset barriers and introduce you to a few success strategies that can take you from being a lady in waiting to a lady in charge of her career.
Let Your Voice Be Heard
Don’t let your career pass you by – avoid spending your days plugging away at desk and having minimal contact with key decision makers in your organization. While being humble is noble, you must become a public relations expert for your own career.
– Actively participate in company/departmental meetings, readily share your ideas with colleagues and frequently make references to special projects or assignments that you are working on.
– Recognized and learn the language of confidence; don’t lose your audience in a sea of “ums” and “ahs”, make a conscious effort to begin your statements with the following phrases when it applies:
I feel strongly that…; My experience suggests…; I recommend…
Know Your Strengths
Don’t walk into an annual performance review meeting with your manager and assume that he/she has been diligently keeping track of your career achievements. If you are not consistently communicating your strengths and referencing past career achievements, you will continue to be overlooked internal promotions, salary raises, bonuses and high-profile projects.
– Take the time to chronicle your career achievements, keep inventory of your individual contributions by compiling a Word document that summarizes your big wins for the company.
– Think carefully about your contributions, not only in terms of new revenues, cost savings, customer acquisition, new market share, public relations and staff leadership, but also on anything you have done to make your company/department more efficient.
Let Your Light Shine
Don’t become the best kept secret in your organization or your industry. True career success takes hard work, persistence and real risk – consciously put your work efforts and your professional capabilities in front of those individuals that matter.
– Maximize ready-to-use, valuable social media tools to promote and exude your personal brand throughout your career evolution, not just when you are in job search mode.
– Seek out leadership opportunities both inside the company and through non-profit, community and civic organizations that would provide you and your personal brand with more visibility.
– Actively build a large, diverse strategic network that is not limited to your work colleagues; reach out to other individuals who can offer a different perspective and often valuable insight on your career challenges.
– Identify and join at least two or three professional and/or industry organizations that focus on career development and leadership issues for professional women.
What do you think about your “female” DNA as it relates to your career progress to date? What self-defeating habits have stunted your career growth and what steps can you take today to start positive change in your professional life?
Abby M. Locke (www.premierwriting.com) is a career marketing strategist and leadership brand coach who partners with professional/executive MBA women to help them achieve true career mastery and success through cutting-edge, career branded communications, innovative job search campaigns, and proactive career management tools.