Eight ways women can get more career savvy


Women are often so focused on proving themselves and doing a good job that they overlook the need to plan and manage their careers. But being more strategic and having a clear plan will give you a better chance of realizing your career ambitions and achieving a more satisfying working life.

Added on 12 July 2016 by Viki Holton,Fiona Dent

This is the core message of a new book ‘How to Thrive and Survive as a Working Woman: The Coach- yourself Toolkit’, published as part of the Bloomsbury/Ashridge Executive Education series. Authors Fiona Dent and Viki Holton provide tools and techniques to help working women navigate challenges and barriers, fulfil their potential and work out what success looks like for them.

“The book is deliberately not about getting to the top or breaking the glass ceiling, because that’s not what everyone wants. It’s about developing a flexible plan that will help women achieve their goals and dreams, whatever they may be,” says Viki Holton.

Here are eight ways women can get more career savvy:

1. Strategize and plan your career

Review where you are in your career and if you want to make a change, develop a strategy for the future. Make your first step some self analysis and a career audit. Ask yourself: Who am I? What have I achieved so far? Who supports me? What am I looking for in my work? How will I achieve my dreams and ambitions?

2. Take opportunities

Make sure you ask for opportunities – and also look for opportunities. Not every promotion is advertised across the company and many projects start, stop and restart informally, bringing people in as and when it suits the business. People often think it is enough just to do a good job, but you need to raise your head above the parapet to get noticed.

3. Invest in relationships

Understand the power of networking. It is often through networks and contacts that doors open to different opportunities. Identify the people who have helped you get where you are today. Create a network map with categories of people (i.e. friends, family, colleagues, bosses, mentors). Identify any gaps and think about who else you need to add to your network and how you will do this.

4. Invest in and build your skills

Review your current skill set. What are your development and training needs? Ask your company to support your training and seek out advice, either inside or outside the business, as to what kind of development would help you move forward. Look widely at how you can develop your skills. Formal training programs are not the only option – you could also consider mentoring, job shadowing, voluntary opportunities or putting yourself forward for project work.

5. Understand the impression you are creating

If you know how others see you, this can help you with your image and promotion prospects. What is your image in the company? Do people see you as smart, energetic and a go-getter or merely a good worker who waits to be told what to do? Think about how you can manage your reputation and build your credibility.

6. Work smarter, not simply harder

Look carefully and often at how you can be more effective and how your team can work better together. Don’t just accept a task and work away at it until it is finished. Consider the best way to do the job and the most effective use of the resources you have available to you.

7. Learn how to be resilient

Developing your resilience and learning how to deal with setbacks is really important. Many companies now recognize that how a person deals with adversity is an important way of selecting candidates for more senior roles.

8. Understand and recognize imposter syndrome

Feeling that you are not quite good enough and that one day someone will find you out is very common among women. If this is something you suffer from, identify it and develop a coping strategy.

Fiona Elsa Dent says "Too few women spend sufficient time on career planning. As working women we need to be more strategic and structured in our approach to our careers. This does not mean that you must stick rigidly to any plan you develop, rather the existence of a plan gives you direction and focus which will help you to make good choices, meet your goals and achieve your career ambitions."

How to Thrive and Survive as a Working Woman:  The coach-yourself toolkit’, Fiona Elsa Dent and Viki Holton, Bloomsbury, 2016