Let’s face it: there’s a lot of bad advice out there. When it comes to your career, you just don’t have the time to waste on following someone else’s well-intentioned (but possibly harmful) business advice. If you are a young woman who is trying to get her foot in the door for her first “real world” job, this article provides some advice you can actually use.
- Have boundaries. I once read an article encouraging young women to “say yes to everything” in the workplace. Yes, you read that right: everything. Shockingly, that article was written in 2013 – although it could have just as easily been written in the 1950s. Instead of saying “yes” to the point of exhaustion, I advise you to instead consider your own personal boundaries. Take the Sheryl Sandberg approach instead. Lean in, but only to a point that you can reasonably handle, not to a point of overwhelm.
- Grow your communication skills. According to Business Insider, you should learn as much as you can about the other person at the start of a conversation. That way, you can start the discussion by building rapport. After all, business is primarily about building relationships with other people. If this advice sounds familiar, that’s because it’s literally some of the oldest business advice in the book. It first gained popularity in the 1930s thanks to Dale Carnegie’s best seller, How to Win Friends and Influence People.
- Build rapport. Women are natural communicators, and we can use this to our advantage in the business world. Use good communication skills and interpersonal skills to build rapport with your boss, coworkers, colleagues and clients to help grow your business and boost your success. One way to do this is by making small talk more meaningful. For example, instead of simply talking about the weather again or asking about your coworker’s weekend plans, you could ask, “How did your daughter’s birthday party go?”
- Deal with sexism. This is easier said than done, of course. The way that you deal with it will depend in large part on the situation and what you are comfortable with. Regardless, it is important to know your rights and how you can handle these situations. Thousands of women are discriminated against or sexually harassed in the workplace each year, so we cannot simply take the attitude of “it will probably never happen to me.” A good place to start is your employee handbook. Does your company have a policy against sexual harassment or discrimination? If so, do they have a human resources department or other official you can report incidents to? What are the sexual harassment and discrimination laws in your area? Know your rights, and speak up if you feel you’ve been victimized. There’s no reason to suffer in silence. The problem probably won’t go away on its own — and it very well could be happening to other women in your workplace.
The business world can be a tricky place to navigate for anyone, male or female. Stay focused on your goals, keep your head up, and work hard. Eventually, you will get to the place you want to be.