As the CEO of Fairygodboss, a company that allows women to anonymously review and rate their companies and employers, I’ve been fortunate enough to hear from thousands of women about their careers. The conversation naturally turns to career advice, and whether they work the floor in retail in the Midwest or run their company’s marketing department in Silicon Valley, the advice these women wish to pass on to others is often very similar.
Here are some of the most common pieces of advice I hear in the Fairygodboss community:
1. Don’t be passive in your career
Internal promotions can be few and far between and it requires hustling (as well as hard work) to climb the ranks. Of course, there are real differences between employers, but in general, women commonly say it requires proactive effort to win a promotion.
2. Ask for the accommodations you need.
Many women in our community believe that the burden of making sure you get what you want lies squarely with you. They advise that other women negotiate for the things that are important to them, draw their personal boundaries and decide when something is a deal-breaker. In short, ask for what you want!
3. Find a mentor / sponsor and community.
You can’t get to the top alone. A substantial percentage of women refer to the fact that their companies have internal women’s networks and informal groups where you can find support for your career. Count yourself lucky if your company has one of these programs and take advantage of them.
4. Be confident and positive.
This is true for women of all ages and seniority, but it’s quite common for more senior women to note that it’s particularly important for women who are more junior in their careers. Even though it may be harder to feel confident when you are not very experienced, a can-do attitude and a willingness to learn and take on new challenges is something most women believe can only help you, even if you’re just starting out.
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5. Ask for more money before taking a new job
While the jury’s out on whether women should always do this due to the fact they may be unfairly penalized, many women still believe it’s important. Particularly when it comes to their starting salary, women commonly say that once you’re employed, pay increases may be small and incremental. Therefore, make sure you’re happy with your entering salary in case it’s a baseline that changes very slowly.
Georgene Huang is CEO and co-founder of Fairygodboss, a jobs and career community that helps women get the inside scoop on what it’s like for women to work at their companies.