In a professional environment, everyone has to fend for themselves. As an ambitious woman in a professional environment, it’s important not to seem like a pushover, and to always stay ahead of the curve. Take yourself seriously (for real), and others will follow the pattern.
Don’t Be Afraid to Stand up for Yourself
It’s a dog-eat-dog world, and humility is rarely appreciated in a professional environment. So first thing’s first, throw that pushover attitude out the window. Don’t say yes to everything, and always consider an opportunity.
More importantly, it’s important to set boundaries by knowing your rights and your job description. People who can point at a written arrangement blindly and say “this is the reason why I can or can’t do this” are always ahead of the rest, and are rarely taken for granted. Of course, sometimes it’s nice to help out here and there, but when that line is being crossed, people have to fend for themselves.
Always be Professional
You’re there to do a job and do it perfectly, and that is all that matters. Set boundaries for yourself, your colleagues, even your boss. Know your rights, and know what is in your job description.
People who know their limits and clearly know their rights, but at the same time are professional and get the job done are always appreciated. And a big part of staying professional is knowing what possibilities you have, and learning how to take advantage of each and every situation that comes your way.
Never Let Them Cross a Line
A lot of people in a “professional” environment sadly cross some lines here and there. As employees, people are immediately vulnerable to their environment and bosses. But this doesn’t mean that they can’t set boundaries.
Many times, people will ask for overtime. Or tasks that are just not in the employee’s job description. Or they have the nerve to reach out after hours or on weekends. These are the places where a line must be drawn, and whether it’s easy or not, everyone has to make these boundaries very clear. So from day one, don’t answer those Sunday calls, and be aware of what is considered an unreasonable request.
If someone were to ask you to do a task that is not in your job description, there are two things a smart person can do. First, they could let them know that that is not in the contract, and knowing their right, they can reject the task. If this offer or proposition is involving a long-running project that someone has to be involved in while it’s not in their job description, they could politely but firmly ask for a bonus for the completion of the task.
This is not about being lazy, or wanton to work less. This is about a person’s boundaries and comfort. There are people who will want to take advantage of those who don’t know their rights, but if it doesn’t go against the contract, people have a right to point to a written agreement about the job description or ask for a minimal bonus for the plus effort they’re requesting.
It’s always a personal choice whether people want to live with this opportunity. The important thing when striving to be successful in a field is perfectionism and professionalism. New opportunities, new projects don’t only mean a chance to ask for a raise, or a chance to turn them down. It could also be a chance to widen your CV and cover letter, and possibly stay ahead of everyone else. So when these opportunities and requests show themselves, it’s important to see how they can be an advantage.
Always Have a Written Agreement About Everything
This should go without saying, but a written agreement/contract is the most important thing in any company. Firstly, the contract must be read thoroughly, and everyone should know it by heart. But a lot of times – especially after being a part of a company for a long time – new opportunities, requests, alterations will be made.
This could be an added project you must oversee, a raise, or any agreement that has a big effect on employees. You, as the employee in question, have the responsibility to demand a written agreement or the alteration of the contract if need be. Even in an environment where the boss is trustworthy, and there’s no big need to protect oneself, this is not personal. Asking for a written agreement about anything does not mean that you are untrusting. It means that you are protecting yourself, and you are clear-minded and reasonable. And if anyone says that that is an unreasonable request, that’s a line they’re crossing.
Stay Ahead of the Curve
As an ambitious person who wants to reach farther than they currently can, it’s important to stay ahead of the curve. People need to stay educated, constantly learning, and looking for new opportunities.
Stepping stones in a huge company can be taking part in extra training in or outside of the office environment that makes employers swoon, or just constantly being on the lookout for new opportunities within the company. Most people are lazy, and the only thing they do is get the job done. Going that extra mile can make a huge difference.
Don’t Be Humble
Throw humility out the window. Always strive to be better and different from the rest, especially in a huge company where you can get lost in the crowd. Don’t undermine yourself, and if there is a request or an opportunity you feel is right up your alley, raise your hand and say “I’m the best possible choice for this assignment”. This attitude should always be by your side, from the first interview to your tenth year at the company. Know what you’re good at, and know your weaknesses, and act upon this knowledge.
Staying on top of your game as a woman in a man’s world is hard, but doable. Know your worth, know your goal, your rights, and your strengths. Giving voice to these can make all the difference and make you stand out in a crown of overachievers.