Story | Women in Business

Career Advice for Women in Business: Developing Your Career

Mar. 23 2023

In her book, “How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from Your Next Raise, Promotion, or Job”, author and renowned leadership expert Sally Helgesen presents 12 habits that may hinder women in business from progressing in their career. In exploring these habits, Helgesen suggests various career tips for women to help them recognize and develop characteristics that will help them be successful in the business world. Following are seven career tips offered by Helgesen, derived from the 12  habits, for businesswomen.

Seven Tips To Help You Develop Your Career

At times women can feel stuck in their jobs or careers. Perhaps they aren’t sure where they want to end up long-term. Or maybe they just aren’t clear how to reach their goals. No matter the situation, implementing these seven career tips for women will help advance any career.

  • Think Of Your Job As A Bridge In Your Career

A job and a career aren’t the same things. A job is a title or position, whereas a career is an overall pathway complete with jobs, goals, and accomplishments. “Putting your job before your career is when you invest all your energy in doing as good a job as possible in the job you have,” Helgesen said. “In the belief that if you are the best at your job if you pour yourself into the job you have, you will be promoted, or it will lead you to where you want to go.”

Instead of putting a job before a career, she recommends looking at each job as a bridge. Thinking of it as a way to get to another destination shifts it from a daily time clock to a way of developing a career for women. “If we pour ourselves into the job we have, all we’re doing is proving we’re perfect for the job we have,” she notes.”We also make ourselves indispensable.” 

  • Identify “Stuckness” And Be Proactive About Change

Whether you are a female entrepreneur or looking to establish your path in an industry, there are many routes a woman’s career can take. No matter what route you take, having a clear and healthy definition of success is important. Women often define success according to their ability to contribute and can feel frustrated and stuck when they don’t feel their contribution is getting them where they want to go. 

To develop in your career, you have to be able to overcome stuckness. After identifying stuckness, you need to be proactive about change. Those two simple skills are the basis of effective career advice for women in business.

  • Implement Strategies To Overcome Perfectionism

When it comes to career hurdles for women, the first step is to recognize what some of them are. Perfectionism, resistance to change, and hesitancy to draw attention to accomplishments are a few of the areas where women often struggle. Some of the best career advice for women is implementing strategies and developing habits like time limits, forced delegation, proactively incorporating changes, and learning to speak positively about accomplishments.

  • Build And Leverage Relationships

Women tend to invest a lot of time building relationships, but are far less likely than their male counterparts to utilize those relationships in business settings. The act of building business relationships for women can be a useful skill. The key is to build genuine relationships and then leverage them for your career. The key is to build a reciprocal relationship where help is received and given. “This is how we move forward and not only rise but rise together. It’s not about using. It’s about making ourselves and others stronger,” Helgesen added. 

  • Find a Coach or Mentor

Sometimes it takes a little effort to bring out the innate characteristics and habits women need to advance to leadership positions. A coach or trusted mentor can help shine a light on career obstacles for women. They can then identify areas of change and help build effective workplace habits to help you reach your goals.

  • Find Opportunities To Grow

Many women suffer from imposter syndrome in their careers. They often feel like they aren’t good, smart, or experienced enough for the job or task. Developing a sense of purpose and confidence goes a long way in opening up opportunities for women in business.

  • Bring Visibility to Your Contributions

“If you expect others to notice and you don’t find a way that you are comfortable with to bring visibility to your contributions, you will, over time, come to feel under-recognized,” Helgesen said. “You’ll come to feel undervalued. Over time you will disengage.” There tend to be two extremes in business, those who shout their accomplishments from the rooftops and those who don’t talk about their accomplishments so they go unnoticed. Women tend to fall into the latter category because they are worried about seeming boastful.

Helgesen suggests there is a middle ground. She emphasizes the importance of calling attention to accomplishments but suggests there is a way to do it without being obnoxious. Her best tip for women in business is to use the language of contribution. Most work is done as a team to be presented as such. 


Bonus Tip 

Try ditching rumination. According to Helgesen, “Rumination is going over and over and over something, usually negative, that happened to kind of beat yourself up about it and give yourself a hard time.”

Instead of dwelling on what went wrong, Helgesen suggests saying, “Oh well.”  While rumination keeps people stuck and spinning on the mistake or negative circumstance, saying, “Oh well” is a way of acceptance that opens the way to move forward.

Want More Advice?

Putting this career advice into practice has helped many women replace natural tendencies with habits that allow them to advance in their careers. If you’re looking for additional resources, visit the Utah Women & Leadership Project, the Women’s Business Center of Utah, and the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity.

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