Ladies, Let’s Get in Formation: 6 Tips for Breaking the Glass Ceiling

Do you want to be the Beyonce of your industry? It’s still tough for women to break through the glass ceiling in almost any field, but it’s not impossible. Here are a few tips on how to assert yourself, demand respect and foster success that’s equal to or greater than your male counter-parts.


1. Promote yourself. Toot your own horn. Many women don’t talk about their own awesomeness enough. That’s why often people don’t know what an asset they are to the team, resulting in being devalued in the workplace. It’s important to talk about the projects you’re working, obstacles you’ve overcome and your achievements —to EVERYONE. Tell your boss, tell your boss’ boss, your colleagues —mention it casually during water cooler chats or in the lunchroom. Everyone should know about the great and important work you are doing. It will not only come in handy when it’s time to ask for the raise or promotion you’ve been wanting, but people will start recognizing you as the rockstar that you are. 

Pro-Tip: Utilize your Linkedin profile as a platform to showcase your best work and to share your accomplishments with your network.

2. Take risks. Have the the confidence to take more risks — whether that’s applying for a job that you’re not 100% qualified for, taking on a big project, moving cross-country for a great opportunity, or just acting on a bold idea. A woman’s success is often stifled by the hesitancy to take risks in their career due to lack of confidence.

Pro-Tip: Every once in awhile, check out the job postings on Indeed and apply for a position you think is a little bit out of your reach. You’d be surprised. Also, check out Glassdoor, compare your qualifications and salary with those in similar positions, maybe it’s time to ask for a raise, a promotion, or BOTH!

3. Use assertive language. If you’ve ever ended a sentence with “Is that okay?”, STOP. Phrases like this express insecurity, it’s not the confident and assertive language that you should use in the workplace.

When a project is on the table and you’re up for the challenge say, “I want to do it”, instead of, “I want to try”. When presenting your work to a manager or peer, convey the attitude of “here it is”, instead of undermining all your hard work by saying, “Is this good enough?” or “I’m open to feedback”.

The quick and dirty rule when it comes to assertive communication is: don’t over-explain, over-apologize, hesitate or say too much. Less is more when it comes to being assertive, so speak clearly, directly and succinctly.

Resources: There are plenty of online resources about how to communicate assertively and therefore, effectively. Mind Tools has great information about it, so does the University of Wisconsin and this article from U.S News.


4. Get a mentor. Even better, get a group of them. It’s important for professional women to have someone they can bounce ideas off of, ask for advice, and consult when considering tough career choices or working on climbing the ladder at their current workplace.

In addition, it’s also great to have at least one mentor within your organization. This will be the person that will promote you by telling others how great you are and how much you deserve recognition. Be sure that your relationship with mentors isn’t one sided. Check in on them, even when you don’t want or need anything — send them an article they might find interesting, ask them what they’re working on and if there’s any way you can help. Having strong mentor relationships are vital to climbing ladders and achieving success in your career.

Pro-Tip: Check out local, professional mixers and other events relevant to your industry. A good place to find out about these is Meetup. It’s free, sign-up and join groups that are relevant to your industry.

5. Learn to say no. In many industries, there’s a tremendous pressure to work hard, take on multiple big projects and have a continuously overflowing plate in an attempt to be the perfect employee. This is a slippery slope to becoming the “yes” woman, if you don’t learn to say no…gracefully.

Ultimately, always saying yes only hurts yourself, and eventually, your company. If you take on too many projects, you can never give any of them your best —never giving your company your highest quality work, and in turn, no one will know the greatness you’re actually capable of.

Prioritize —only take on projects you’re truly passionate about and produce great work. Don’t be afraid to turn down projects that don’t suit you or your goals or that you’re simply just too busy for.

Resources: This corny slide-show from Forbes actually has some really quick and useful tips. The Harvard Business Review has a more detailed article that even includes case studies, a definite must read on this topic.

6. Go out with the boys. It’s no secret that most career opportunities happen outside of the office. Much of company bonding moments and ladder climbing happens when everyone goes out for happy hour after work, to a colleagues house to watch the game, or to play a few rounds of golf on a Saturday morning. Don’t be afraid to go out with the boys, even if you are one of the only women. Quality time spent outside of work will be invaluable to your growth in any company.

Didn’t get the invite to hang out with the guys? That’s fine, host your own outing and invite the others to join in.
Resources: Here’s an article with a few great ideas for out-of-office outings.

Do you have any other tips that have helped you be more successful in the workplace? Let us know! 

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