Written by: Cindy Banun
Here’s something that you might not have known: March is Women History Month. It is the month where women’s contributions throughout history is celebrated. Women History Month is in fact, born out of a feminist push for equal access to jobs and education in the in the United States since the 1980s.
Although women’s rights have improved by leaps and bounds since then, there still exists some form of inequality. There are still traditional-minded individuals within our Malaysian society. They think a woman’s sole purpose is to find a husband and become a homemaker instead.
However, us women are still working hard at improving and developing our careers, regardless of what others may think. Career development is a constant challenge for everyone. However, there are certainly ways for working women to receive the recognition that we deserve. Here’s seven ways to help your career:
Tip #1: Supporting other women at work
No woman is an island, and teamwork is often needed in the workplace. Be attentive and assist others who are having a hard time at work. It certainly helps to have people who are appreciative of us. We shouldn’t expect repayment for helping others, but they are much more likely to help us in the future if we need any assistance.
Tip #2: Display self-confidence
As we gain more experience working, our skills should naturally improve as we tackle more challenging tasks. Slowly, we can learn to be much more confident in ourselves.
Self-confidence can help you in your career advancement as it can help you express yourself better. It can help you to be much more vocal during meetings, express your ideas better, and help you reach out to any opportunities and challenges. That’s because having confidence in yourself makes you more self-assured in your capabilities. It is only natural to display self-confidence, particularly in your field of expertise.
Challenges at work are something to be welcomed so that you can gain more experience and recognition from your peers. Tackle these challenges and make yourself indispensable to your organisation. Then, it can be used to negotiate a promotion and increase in salary.
Self-confidence should not be confused with arrogance, so remember to be tactful with your words and actions.
Tip #3: Be humble and patient
In a workplace setting, we have to deal with colleagues with different personality types and different working styles. As such, it is important to be patient when collaborating with others. Whenever you are asking for help or advice, always be mindful that your colleagues will have their own designated tasks to work on. So always be polite when asking and take any rejections gracefully. Be patient when asking for help as they have other priorities as well.
In addition, you should also be humble about your skills and abilities. No one likes a braggart. Working with one is equally as unbearable. Be mindful of how you present yourself at work. Be humble about your skills, and take the opportunity to rise up in your career when it reveals itself.
Tip #4: Respect colleagues even if you don’t like them
Respect your colleagues even if you don’t like them. This is common sense to all of us working women, but it can be a hard one to follow. People have different personality types, and their personality and attitude really can really grind on nerves. It is especially so if the work being done is high significance and time sensitive.
Here’s a way to handle these emotions: remember that all the employees that work at the same company as you do, are there to fulfil their jobs. No one is there to mess around with you specifically. Just be mindful about the circumstances that your other colleagues may be facing right now. Maybe they are burnt out, maybe they hate their job and are miserable, maybe they feel stressed, or perhaps they feel stuck at the current company and their behaviour is a result of coping with their reality.
There are many reasons why your colleagues may behave so dislikable, but it is not our place to know nor judge. We are just there to work, so give your colleagues the respect they deserve for the work that they are doing for the company, and nothing else.
Tip #5: No workplace gossip
Workplace gossip can be one of the worst things to experience at work. It can be particularly damaging emotionally and mentally to have thoughts that affect the people that you work with. Even worse is that you start to wonder if anyone has talked behind your back before, and you can only wonder if it has costed you a promotion.
Hence, do not engage in workplace gossip. Do the opposite instead. Tell others what are the good qualities of the people within your team. Praise their work quality, work ethics, personality and so on. Break the chain of toxicity in your workplace. Otherwise, trust between colleagues and morale within the office will fall, and you may find it unbearable to work at that place anymore.
Besides, not participating in workplace gossip can also save you time, and help you finish your work faster. It will also look good to your boss since you spend time doing your work rather than going into the pantry to gossip.
Set boundaries, it will save your career and yourself. Setting boundaries means having to say ‘no’ to certain tasks. This may sound counterintuitive, especially if you are working towards developing your career. That’s because setting boundaries will help you become much more in control of your career.
You are the one who is deciding who you work for, when you work, and what effort you put in. That also includes finishing work on time and not bringing it home with you. Setting boundaries and letting your employer and colleagues know that you have priorities elsewhere. Your personal life comes first, and by asserting yourself, you can gain their respect.
This may not always be the case. You may be faced with anger and frustration by refusing to work overtime, with or without pay. It is important that employers respect your personal space and your autonomy. In this case, then you’ll know that it is time to move on, and develop your career elsewhere.
As you learn to set boundaries at work, you will find that there is more time for you to spend with yourself, your friends and family. Use this precious time wisely. Work life typically consists of long hours, stressful situations, and sometimes doing things that you may not agree with. You should indulge in self-care as often as possible so that you are rejuvenated. Rest when you need to, so that you can retain the energy required to do better work at the office.
Tip #7: Learn to negotiate salary and benefits
Last, but not least: we should all learn to negotiate salary and benefits. It is an essential skill for a successful and fulfilling career. Have you heard of the ‘gender pay gap’ between male and female employees? One of the possible reasons why women may be paid less at the workplace is just simply: the inability to negotiate.
Negotiation is really essential to receive the salary and benefits that you want. Whenever you choose to change jobs, salary and benefits is always a difficult question to navigate. During the interview process, you need to clearly communicate your skills and abilities as a way to negotiate salary and benefits. The question is not anything to shy away from, if you want to be paid as you deserved.
The salary and benefits negotiation process is also a method to understand your potential employer. See how they react to your assertiveness and willingness to negotiate. If they are willing to listen and respect your opinion, that’s great! If they seem like the type to control what you do and over-manage their employees, then it’s time to leave. It’s not difficult to tell how your future employer will treat you just by looking around the office. That is, if you did your interview in person. See how all the employees react around the boss, or supervisor. How does work get done in the office? The signs are there, you just have to see it.
All working women should have a fair chance at career development. Follow these 7 tips to better aid your ambition. No matter what challenges lie ahead of you, as long as you stay true to yourself and what you want to achieve, your dreams will surely come true.