Career Tips for Working Women

Even though some issues are endemic to women within certain cultures, the survey for my book showed sufficient evidence that many of the challenges working women face are global Universally, women have been experiencing deep rooted systemic challenges as a result of which they have failed to achieve unfettered career success. However, many times, some of these career blocks are self-imposed. It’s important to contextualise the impediments in our careers and identify whether it’s owing to our own selves or system based. In order to tackle external challenges, it is often important to get our own house in order first.  Here are 10 tips to expedite career progression.



Know that you deserve it


How many times when you were complimented, have you heard yourself saying. ‘Oh, it was nothing.’? When you are recognised for a job well done, do you tend to deflect praise and chose to stay low key?  Women have high propensity to question their abilities and downplay their achievements, especially in the presence of others. They often put themselves down before others can. Acknowledge the role you played in your accomplishments and accept praise gracefully. Remind yourself that you achieved what you did because you did something different – something extra, something you believed in, something that others didn’t do or try.


Don’t let interruptions derail you


Pay close attention to words and phrases that may diminish your importance or water down your authority. Most importantly, finish what you are saying. There are number of ways to avoid interruptions, perhaps one of the simplest yet most effective was one we witnessed In the recent presidential debate, when Kamala Harris unapologetically and firmly asserted   ‘I am speaking’  


Perfectionism can be exhausting


To avoid detection and shield ourselves from judgement, we make extraordinary efforts to mask our impostorism. We obsess over every minute detail, exhaustively, doing and redoing tasks ad nauseam often with the goal of seeking approval, appreciation and acknowledgement. Instead of giving satisfaction, perfectionism however hampers achievement and is correlated with depression, anxiety, addiction, life paralysis and missed opportunities.  Accept that not everything requires a perfect score and that in many cases done is better than perfect.




Many participants in my survey confessed that they found it hard to delegate, as they believed others may not be completing tasks as meticulously as they would. Thus they strive harder and put in extra hours to single-handedly shoulder the work of two or three people all at once. Don’t waste your time doing things that somebody else can do, save your time for those things that you are uniquely qualified to do. In addition to lightening your workload and making you focus on what really matters, you empower those around you - often, people rise to the challenge when work is passed to them which they wouldn’t  otherwise be able to do if you continuing owning their stuff.


Don’t fall for the tiara syndrome


Tiara Syndrome involves waiting for others to notice you and place a tiara on your head. In an ideal and perfect meritocracy, this would be viable but not in day and age like this. Practise humble confidence, but do not shy away from self-publicity and shining a spotlight on your achievements, especially those that promote your brand. Being too humble can cost you. Failing to point out your accomplishments can hit you in the career for it is those who visibly take credit for accomplishments who are rewarded with promotions and gem assignments.  And it is those who have the courage to ask and can vocalise which opportunities and projects they prefer that are always considered first.


Don’t be Afraid to be Vulnerable


Vulnerability can create a cultures of trust, engagement and respect. As leaders, being vulnerable means we do not need to outrun or outsmart uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. If you are cautious of your actions and how people will react consequently, it becomes difficult to express yourself truthfully. By not being vulnerable, you give others the power to hurt you. Thus if you really want to protect yourself from being hurt or emotionally bruised, then become more vulnerable.


Embrace the power of No


Most of the time pressures we face are connected to all the times we didn’t say no. Before saying yes to anything, visualise yourself in that situation - would you be relieved if that task is postponed? If you answered yes, then that’s a clear indicator to excuse yourself. Once you have refused, don’t give in to FOMO moments; focus on all of the benefits you realised by saying NO.


Not all battles are worth fighting


Ignoring or avoiding the abuser may seem safe but it’s actually more harmful; trying to appease the abuser or complying with him is not a solution either. However, conserve your energy and time by avoiding fretting over slights committed in situations where you have little or no stakes involved, an example of which would be online trolling. For the more serious and conscious acts of bullying and harassment , take charge of your emotions first, then detach yourself from the situation and proceed to address it in the most effective way possible from a place of non-reactivity.


Disagree without being disagreeable


Never be afraid to express your opinion even when it’s different from the rest but triggering disagreements without the use of tact can work against you. Emphasising larger goals and approaching the negotiation as solving a problem, as opposed to taking a critical stance may seem compromising but it yields better results than going after something, all out.



Acknowledge that you are enough

When you realise this and work from that place, you are not only kinder and gentler to the people around us, you will be kinder and gentler to yourself. Trim any debilitating feelings and behaviours to size. Love and appreciate yourself first, and the rest will follow.



Hira Ali 

 Orginally published in Forbes