For Women Only: Five Steps to a Winning Career

Starting out in the corporate world is never easy, but for women, it can be even more difficult. Much of this stems from common misconceptions about women in the workplace: that we are weak or lack confidence or ambition. There are some easy tips that you can use to help shatter these perceptions, and that can set any woman up for career success:

1. Be Mindful Of Your Attire: What you wear reflects your level of professionalism, as well as your company’s. Therefore, it’s important to dress according to the codes of your office. Clothing that is considered appropriate at a creative ad agency may not be right at a law firm. Conservative attire is a safe bet: simple suits, A-line skirts or dresses, fitted pants. Inject personality and style through interesting color combinations and statement jewelry.

2. Confidence Is Key: Appearing confident is half the battle in business. You can portray confidence by making and maintaining eye contact. Stand tall when you walk around the office, and don’t be afraid to smile. Speak your ideas with conviction, and don’t feel the need to sugarcoat or apologize often.

3. Be Your Own PR Agent: Who knows you better than you? It’s important to let others know about your knowledge and skill sets. That goes for both inside and outside the workplace. Social networking sites such as LinkedIn make communicating with others outside the confines of your office so easy. You never know where the next great opportunity can come from. Let others know what you have to offer.

4. Raise Your Hand: Ask for help when you need it, and ask questions if things don’t make sense. Women can sometimes be bashful or nervous about inquiring for details or direction, but it is necessary. It is far better to ask a question about an unclear assignment than it is to assume you know what the assignment is and then do it incorrectly.

5. Do Onto Others: As we already know, navigating the workplace can be tough for women. It’s important that we not make it any tougher on our peers by being a “mean girl.” Gossip, cattiness, and negativity can run rampant in organizations. Be above it. Try to focus on your own strengths, responsibilities, and contributions, and build the women around you up instead of tearing them down.

Cheryl Greenhill is president and CEO of Stile-di-Vita. For further information e-mail her at [email protected].