Why Women Should Stop Trying to Dress Like Everyone Else at Work

It’s about being confident in what you bring to the table.

As the technology sector leader for Deloitte’s U.S. tax practice, most of my clients are men. But it wasn’t always that way. I spent most of my career working in global employer services, which primarily serves the HR function, an area women tend to dominate. So when I made the transition to a broader leadership role in the tech industry, one thing quickly became clear to me: You do need a strategy for being a woman in the workplace, especially when your clients are predominantly male. And while there’s no single approach that works for all women, there are a few guideposts I’ve used that have helped to navigate my career:

Go for authenticity
One piece of advice I often heard early on in my career was to look for role models in other women and try to emulate them. I also received a lot of “tips” on how to dress and present myself in the workplace. A common one: “Never wear anything but clear nail polish. It will distract people from your message.” That’s a piece of advice I actually followed for a decade—until I decided it was nonsense. When I looked around me, I realized that successful women don’t follow a single path when it comes to style or presence. What they do have in common is a level of comfort with themselves and confidence in the value they bring to their work. I found that authenticity not only builds trust with my colleagues and clients, but it also creates a solid foundation for collaboration—and that’s far more important than one’s style.

Don’t try to ignore the elephant in the room
Now comes the contradiction to my first point: Perception is reality. There is still a double standard for women in the workplace at many organizations. Letting that cripple or irritate you isn’t going to help, but neither is ignoring it. Networking in a male-dominated industry can indeed be tricky. Can you invite a male client out for a drink or a concert without giving the wrong impression? Where is the line? I have come to accept certain limitations and have drawn up my own personal guidelines—which sometimes err on the side of being conservative, like keeping networking meetings to coffee near the office—not because this is how it should be, but because it makes life easier for me.

Find your allies and leverage their support
I have carefully built up my personal board of directors. It’s made up of men and women within my organization who are supportive of getting women’s voices heard and fostering collaboration. Early on in my career, I used to shy away from forming close ties with other professional women, leery that it might be perceived as promoting a “we vs. them” attitude. But now I believe that it’s valuable to seek out women to share perspectives on navigating our careers, and I cherish these opportunities. In fact, I go out of my way to meet with my female colleagues to discuss how we can continue to facilitate a more collaborative work environment.

Read the rest of this article: Why Women Should Stop Trying to Dress Like Everyone Else at Work — Fortune

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Quiz: Are You Really Ready To Switch Careers?

Switching careers is a big step, and you think you’re ready to take it. But are you really prepared for such a big change? Did a few bad days at work leave you ready to throw in the towel, or have several years’ worth of unhappiness given you the motivation to try something new? Have you thought carefully about the personal and professional implications of making a switch, or have you decided that anything is better than what you’re doing?

Take this quiz to find out if you’re really ready to switch careers:

1. Why do you want to change careers?
A. I’ve had a really stressful few weeks, and I can’t take it anymore.
B. I don’t get along with my team, and I don’t fit in with the company culture.
C. This is my third job in the same field, and I still haven’t found a role that I find fulfilling.

2. About how long have you been working in the same field?
A. A few months
B. Two to three years
C. Five-plus years

3. What have you done to prepare for a career switch?
A. Nothing yet, but it can’t be that hard.
B. I’ve started thinking about what else I’d like to do and have looked into a few opportunities.
C. I’ve created a plan, I’ve spent a lot of time researching the new industry, and I’ve set up several lunch meetings with people in that industry.

4. Do you know what you want to do next?
A. No, I haven’t had time to think about it, because I’ve been so busy and stressed.
B. I’ve thought about it, but I don’t know what else I’d be good at besides what I do now.
C. Yes, I’ve known what I want to do for some time now; I just haven’t found the right opportunity yet.

5. What are you willing to do to change careers?
A. Spend a couple hours a week looking for a new job.
B. Meet with a career counselor to discuss my career options.
C. Take courses three days a week to acquire skills needed for the new career.

Results

Mostly A’s: Not ready — or not for the right reasons
It’s tough to have a bad day at work. It’s really rough to have a few weeks’ worth of bad days. But be careful not to act too quickly before you’ve truly given the job a chance. When things are stressful, it’s easy to want to throw in the towel, but if you wait it out, you may realize that things aren’t as bad as they may seem. It can take some time to get into the groove of a particular position, and it’s normal to feel a little frustrated if it takes some time to catch on to everything. But once you do, you may find that you actually like what you do and enjoy working with those on your team.

Mostly B’s: Ready to make a switch, but not to a different career
It seems as though you’ve been struggling with your job for some time. But before you make a career switch, consider whether it’s what you’re doing or where you’re doing it. Make a list of what it is that you don’t like. If you find that it’s mostly things associated with the particular company at which you’re working, such as your colleagues or manager, the company’s culture or your clients — it may be worth looking for a new job instead of a new career. Chances are you enjoy the basic elements of the role, but you just haven’t found exactly the right fit yet. Now that you know what it is you want in a job, you can be more focused about finding your next position.

Mostly C’s: Ready to switch careers
If you answered mostly C’s, you’ve likely been following the same career path for several years, held multiple similar jobs and have yet to find one that’s fulfilling. You’ve also taken the right steps toward discovering what it is you want to do next. You know that switching careers is a big deal, so instead of rushing into it, you’re doing your research, gaining skills to help you in your new field and making important connections with people in that field. Make sure that when you do make the leap, you’re jumping to a career that you’re passionate about and could see yourself doing for a number of years. While there’s no guarantee you’ll love your new career, making all the necessary preparations should give you a good chance of happiness.

Originally posted on CareerBuilder.com

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Want To Land The Gig? 5 Bad Habits To Break Today

Originally posted on CareerBuilder.com

Job searching can be tough enough by itself. There is no need to make it even harder by doing or saying the wrong thing when interviewing. Here are five habits to break to up your chances of getting the job:

1. Being negative:
If you doubt your abilities or see only the worst possible outcome, your interviewer might pick up on that negative energy as well. Similarly, it’s important not to badmouth a former boss, coworker or employee during any stage of the interview process. Even if your former boss or organization is known for its problems, a job interview is no time to express your anger.

2. Embellishing: Lying or exaggerating during the hiring process can destroy your chances of ever being hired with that employer – and because of extensive background checks and references that come into play before an offer is made, it’s easier to be caught than you might think. In a recent CareerBuilder survey, 69 percent of employers said catching a candidate lying about something is an instant deal breaker.

3. Projecting bad body language: What you say in an interview is as important as how you say it, and bad body language takes away from your words. In the CareerBuilder survey, we found that when asked to identify the biggest body language mistakes job seekers make, hiring managers named the following:

  • Failing to make eye contact: 67 percent
  • Failing to smile: 39 percent
  • Playing with something on the table: 33 percent

4. Checking your mobile device during an interview: Answering your cellphone is rude and unprofessional, and in almost every situation the call, text or email can wait.

5. Not doing your homework: Employers take note of candidates that are educated on the responsibilities of the job opening in question and on the company itself. This demonstrates that you made the decision to apply for the job after considering the facts rather than out of desperation.

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