Women are a valuable and necessary component of any work environment. There is an ever-growing number of women in high-profile leadership roles, and the number of women starting their own businesses is at an all-time high. However, factors such as pay inequality and “the glass ceiling” continue to hinder women’s career growth. Nevertheless, these strategies can help women succeed in their careers as well as earn higher salaries.

Be proactive about learning new things

While this may seem obvious, it is easy to overlook new learning opportunities. Between busy personal and professional lives, some women may not prioritize furthering their education. There are many options available to professionals looking to further their education, such as accelerated certificate programs and online courses. Joining professional organizations and attending conferences or workshops are also wonderful opportunities to be exposed to the latest-and-greatest information in one’s career field. Also, speak with your employer about any programs that may be offered through the company; some employers may also partially or fully reimburse their employees for participating in professional development classes. The skills that are gained through taking these classes are an instant value-add to the company and are transferable to many different professional environments.

Network effectively

The phrase “work smarter, not harder” is especially true when it comes to networking. Networking effectively is not about increasing the number of people you know, but about who you know. For example, building relationships with other professionals in your field may open the door to a potential job (or other professional) opportunities. Also, use your natural communication skills to vocalize your thoughts on the nature of the field you’re in. By networking, you may find others who share your concerns, or there may be some who have already overcome the position you are currently in. However, networking isn’t only about what others can do for you. Don’t be afraid to brag about yourself a little and show what you bring to the table!

Be your own advocate

Learning or practicing how to advocate for yourself is one of the most important strategies for advancing in the workplace. Being your own advocate is the balance between asking for what you need while respecting the needs of others. This is increasingly important in today’s workplace. One aspect of being your own advocate is the ability to make others aware of your capabilities. Speaking up for yourself in both big and small ways is not easy, but will almost always reward you in the long run. Depending on others to always have your best interest in mind is a great risk, but if you count on yourself you will rarely be let down.

Build a mentor/mentee relationship

Mentor/mentee relationships can be life changing for both parties involved. Young professionals who may need guidance benefit greatly from having a non-family pour into them. Having someone with more experience help steer you in the right direction can be comforting, and may help avoid unnecessary mistakes from being made. On the other hand, choosing to become a mentor is a great way to support young women who might not otherwise have someone helping them navigate a professional workplace. Becoming a mentor encourages the sharing of knowledge, and strengthens interpersonal skills on both ends.

Nurture your talents

In order to advance in your career, you should devote your time to projects and events that are in line with your strong suits. While taking the “jack of all trades” route may work for a little while, you should eventually focus on becoming very skilled in the areas you are most interested in. Discovering how to use your natural talents to your advantage, instead of letting your weaker areas work against you, is a wonderful way to begin the path to career advancement.  

Create a career development plan

It is much easier to achieve a goal (of any kind) when a plan is put in place. First, you should take some time to reflect on where you are currently, as well as where you want your career to be. Creating a list of both short-term and long-term goals gives your career plan structure and a clear purpose. Vision boards or journals are popular tools to help with this process and are most effective when placed somewhere that forces you to look at them multiple times a day. The beauty of having a career development plan is that it is easy to change, but also provides a sense of direction and accomplishment.