If I had to give one piece of advice to women who want to get ahead today, I would tell them, think like a man. Don’t be a man, just think like one. What do I mean? Successful men are clear about what they want and pursue it. Women think that the universe will take care of them. It won’t. What does that mean for your career success? Be clear about what you want.
It’s never too early to plan your career. I think women are more passive than men about their career objectives and that shouldn’t be. In fact, it doesn’t have to be. You may be wondering about how you can—and should—be proactive about your career. Here are some suggestions to consider.
Consider different jobs. First, start looking around your organization at the jobs that exist. Remember, in large organizations there are options outside your immediate workplace. If you’re in sales, remember that there are jobs in operations, finance, strategic planning and accounting. Just because you’re unfamiliar with those groups, doesn’t mean you should not consider them. Get to know people in other departments and learn what they do and with whom. You want to be one of the first to hear about changes in a department where your skills and qualifications could be considered. Then you want to be recommended.
Be the preferred candidate. In large organizations, many times the job openings are filled before the candidates are interviewed. It’s almost like the military where a promotion is made and the new department wants to know, “Was it a real promotion or did the other department want to get rid of the person?” Since jobs might be filled before the interview, you want to be the one that’s considered before your competitors. That means people have to know you, like you and respect you. Having that good buzz is a more certain way to get ahead. If people are talking about you and your work in a positive way, you’ll know you’re doing a good job of positioning yourself.
Let your manager know what you want to do. In every employee review, you must take it upon yourself to discuss your career progress. It’s up to you to ask about future job opportunities for you and how management views your progress. Then it’s up to you to let management know your preferred career path. Take charge. Get the word out and pursue what you want. That’s how the men get ahead. That’s how women can, too.