As a young woman charting her way through Corporate America, there are several things you should know. The knowledge that I have gained over the years has been of my own experience and I want to share them with you to ensure that you don’t have to learn them the hard way like I did. While this is not an all-encompassing list, this is a list of items that I’ve learned throughout my career and think every young woman should know. Some of these items may be new to you and others aren’t, but they’re important:
- Be Confident. Always be confident in your own skills and abilities. Each of us have career strengths that, when combined with our educational background and life experiences make us unique, and it’s that uniqueness that makes us standout. Accept your unique skills and abilities and wear them proudly. They will help you to shine in any company.
- Always negotiate your salary. Companies will always offer the lowest end of the salary spectrum to candidates. There thought is, “Why pay the employee more, if they are willing to accept less?” So if you’re new to the job market and don’t recognize your strengths, you’ll accept the first offer given to you but don’t. There’s typically about a $5,000 wiggle room there. As you become more experienced, that opportunity may not be available, because the salary you are seeking is out of their budget, but they will offer you the max salary budgeted in order to get you in the door. If you really want the job, and it’s offering you more than you currently make, then go for it. You can always increase your salary with the next position.
- Don’t take a pay cut to move jobs. If you’re young, and new to the job market, don’t take a pay cut to move jobs. If you’re already making $40k, don’t leave to go to a job that will only pay you $38k. You are still too early in your career and if a company wants you they will pay for you. And at such a low salary bracket, they can afford to at least match your salary. This was a mistake I made early in my career, and I used to regret it terribly. Men don’t take salary cuts to move jobs, so why should women?
On the contrary, there are times that you may have to take a pay cut or make a lateral salary move. When making this decision, don’t make it lightly. Make sure that you will be gaining something far greater than money can pay, such as work experience, job growth, leadership experience, learning from experts in your field, etc.
- Begin taking on leadership roles early in your career. If you’re anything like me, you were never into sports and really shied away from leadership roles. Now, as a young professional, that is coming back to haunt me as I’m trying to climb the corporate ladder and get into a manager level position. Some companies will allow candidates to come in on a manager level because of their work experience, but others will not, because of the lack of managerial experience.
As you climb the corporate ladder, most companies want to see that you either have managerial experience or have the word manager in your title prior to bring you in the company at that level. Start getting that experience now. There are numerous ways achieve this such as being a lead on a project at your current job, coach a sport in your spare time, or be in a leadership position within an organization with which you are a member. Take on those leadership roles now, so those managerial positions won’t elude you in the future.