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The Courageous Woman's Guide to Career Advancement

Guest post written by

As a woman trying to improve her prospects, it may feel like the deck is stacked against you: Financial success is never easy to achieve, and the extant gender divide makes it that much harder still. It’s important to believe in yourself, come up with specific goals, and then take steps to get there. Plenty of women succeed at the workplace (and in the business world), often outdoing their male colleagues (and competitors) along the way – and so can you.

In this mini-guide, the career mentors at Arche offer some helpful advice on being more successful in life for women. We start with some general advice and finish with three concrete ways of succeeding – a career change, pursuing a promotion at a current career, and launching your own business.

Understand the secret of success – Balance

According to Stanford Business, some savvy women beat out both men and other women at the workplace, snagging 1.5 times more promotions and a higher salary than their peers. What’s their secret? They exhibit a balance of “masculine” and “feminine” traits, adopting their actions and behavior to the situation at hand.

To clarify, they’re like chameleons – they know how to be assertive, aggressive, and dominating when they need to be. Furthermore, they know when to ease off and be more feminine (aka sensitive, passive, and nurturing). Masculinity allows them to do what needs to be done, and femininity draws in acceptance from their peers. Achieving a similar balance with yourself can make you more successful.

Being a woman is your greatest strength

You likely know and believe this already, but it bears repeating – being a woman is a major asset, not a weakness. For example, The Ohio State University reports women make better leaders than men. They are better at communicating with others and show more consideration, making them more motivating and supportive than their male counterparts. Learn to see your strengths for what they are and don’t be afraid of using them.

3 concrete ways of moving ahead in life

Take a realistic look at where you stand and be clear about what you want. Also, be honest with yourself and consider your long-term fulfillment when choosing a path forward.

Changing careers

  • When it makes sense: Changing careers makes the most sense when your industry is stagnating, and your skills are not in high demand, regardless of how good you are or the work you put in. It may also be a good idea when you wish to find a more satisfying line of work, environment, or life balance.

  • Career change options: You can find a new job in the same field, a new job in a different industry using your existing skills, or begin a new career from scratch.

  • How to pivot to a new career Start by taking stock of your strengths and skills. Next, identify the skills and traits you need to have to be successful in your target position. If necessary, put in the work needed to acquire said skills. Finally, job hunt – update your resume, network, go on interviews, and impress potential employers.

  • What to watch out for: Unrealistic expectations and going in blind. A career change could get you what you want – but it won’t happen overnight. You will need to apply yourself. Do plenty of research, don’t get ahead of yourself, and have a plan of action.

Pursuing a promotion at work

  • When it makes sense: Promotions are best pursued when you’re not being challenged enough at work or just want more money, perks, and acknowledgement from your coworkers. Keep in mind that not all promotions come with extra pay. Do your research and trace out a path of progression for the best results.

  • How to get promoted: Find out who holds the power at work (usually your boss), and gain their trust. Impress them with your knowledge, drive, and ambition. If possible, offer extra business value, such as by presenting them with a plan to make more money – and then ask for a chance to be given the lead.

  • What to watch out for: A promotion goes hand in hand with added responsibility. You will have to earn your salary, and it may affect your work-life balance, meaning less time for the family or kids. Make sure you have enough gas in the tank and have a plan of action to avoid shooting yourself in the foot.

Starting your own business

  • When it makes sense: When you want to be your own boss – or think you can do a better job than your own boss or company. Contrary to popular belief, it may not give you extra freedom - businesses are a time sink for founders, at least until they are established.

  • Business options: The sky's the limit. Ideally, you should do something you’re good at that also happens to be in demand. Women entrepreneurs can also expect a great deal of support from the government and private organizations, financial and otherwise.

  • How to launch a business: Follow the tried-and-tested formula – brainstorm ideas, do market research to check the viability, create some structure with a business plan, come up with goals and finally take action. Always pay attention to supply and demand.

  • What to watch out for: Not being organized enough. Business involves a ton of administrative tasks and other minutiae. It can all bog you down and stop you from focusing on the big picture. To make it easier, you could hire a virtual assistant who can take care of the day-to-day stuff like schedule management, customer service, email marketing, social media, and data entry.

Achieving what you want isn’t always easy. Your resolve will be tested, and you may need to make some sacrifices along the way. Keep in mind success is more of a lifestyle and less a destination – temper your resolve and prioritize constructive action to build and maintain the momentum you need to be successful.

Arche helps people architect, navigate and advance their career path with expert advice and tools to support your job search, interview preparation, professional branding, salary negotiations, and career advancement.

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