It is no surprise that the current job market is challenging for job seekers and those wanting to advance their careers. Competition is fierce from entry-level to the executive ranks, and women are still outnumbered and under-valued in many male-dominated professions.
Women need to get into the career game and redefine their competitive edge so they can be seen, heard and considered for the opportunities they seek. Adjust the career lens through which you see the world. It's time to get into the driver's seat and be strategic about how you navigate opportunities.
Redefine Mentorship - create a community of success to inspire you to reach your goals. Mentors can provide you with wisdom and encouragement and sponsors can actually put their professional reputation on the line to advocate for your advancement.
Take it a step farther and identify your heroes. Whom do you admire and seek to emulate based on their achievements or behavior in the career world? Levo League is the leading social network dedicated to helping Gen Y women elevate their careers and utilizes technology to help recent graduates navigate the fiercely competitive job market.
They have taken mentorship to new heights by offering virtual mentorship from national thought leaders and hero worthy women (and men) you would rarely have access to before now. Levo League co-founder and CEO, Caroline Ghosn is seen in this video with Levo mentor, Warren Buffett discussing his commitment to investing in women.
Caroline Ghosn shared that mentorship powered by technology is what makes Levo League extraordinary.
Mentorship is a part of the success equation, and the first step is exchanging advice and building rapport. Levo League's technology provides access to establish this initial exchange and democratizes mentorship to the masses in a way that one-on-one mentoring can't. However, Levo League believes in the value of in-person mentoring and we are seeing many of the online connections made on our platform grow into in-person connections.
Don't Be Careful to a Fault - Women have tremendous potential to achieve but many pursue opportunities based on their odds of success. Being careful to a fault limits how you fail and how you succeed.
Studies tell us that women apply for jobs when they meet 80% of the job requirements where men apply with only 20% and often land the job. They assume they can learn as they go and they are hired based on potential. Don't play it safe -- see the possibilities and envision your potential. You can't achieve if you don't get involved.
Fail Forward - Stop letting fear control your willingness to take a risk and try something new. Know that you can always fail forward and learn from every experience. You won't achieve your full potential if you always play it safe, so expand your comfort zone and challenge yourself with something different. Think about the countless inventions and advancements in our world that we would not have if courageous people weren't willing to fail.
Enhance Your Elevation Opportunities - Is your professional posse lacking motivation or the desire to achieve great things? Chances are you will set your professional bar at the same level as your contemporaries, so align yourself with the like-minded people and amazing things will happen. The law of attraction helps us connect with the very people who can assist us with achieving our goals. You have to be clear about how you position yourself for success. Circulate with people who challenge, stimulate, and inspire you to do your very best. Then pay-it-forward and help elevate someone else.
Define Success on Your Own Terms - It's important to focus on what success means to you and how this reflects your professional values at any given time in your life. You may value rank, salary, prestige or variety and flexibility depending upon where you are in the journey of life. Values are never to be judged. Try and shut out the external forces including family and well-meaning friends who influence your definition of success. You alone know what is meaningful in your life and you have the right to adjust that definition whenever you wish.
Toot Your Own Professional Horn - The ideal professional persona projects ability without attitude since nobody appreciates a bragger who has gone to the dark side of obnoxious. However, humility won't land you the job or the promotion so you must talk about the accomplishments you have earned with humble confidence.
Be ready to talk about your strengths and accomplishments at all times, not just during the interview or the performance evaluation. Have your stories at-the-ready to illustrate your skills with specific examples so it feels conversational and relaxed. Own what you have done and accept the credit you deserve instead of applauding your team to take the spotlight off of you. You must learn to be your own best self-advocate and speak articulately about your accomplishments.
LinkedIn has also given you a great opportunity to seek endorsements from professionals who know your work well. Keep your LinkedIn recommendations fresh and relevant to the new opportunities you seek. Having others speak highly of your work is a great way to be recognized for a job well done.
Good Old Girls Network - From the golf course to the cigar club, the Good Old Boys Club has been alive and well for centuries. It's time for women to create their own power base and throw the ladder down to help each other.
From Baby Boomer women hiring Gen X and Y women to Millennials serving as reverse mentors to those more seasoned, women need to elevate each other. We have the power to help create transformative relationships.
Find someone who can be your catalyst for growth and ask for help. Caroline Ghosn of Levo League talks about the importance of being bold for Gen Y women as they enter the workforce but her wisdom is accurate for all generations.
Don't be afraid to ask for help. After college you will encounter numerous situations and questions that you weren't taught in school. That's normal, and it's important to know that your peers are going through very similar experiences. Whether it's reaching out to a colleague for peer-to-peer advice, or reaching out to a company executive for mentor advice, be bold and ask. Use Levo League to navigate some of the untold truths out there, and to receive tips on how to appropriately reach out to a mentor or peer.
Career elevation is not a secret formula, but simply a way for women to leverage their relationships and their expertise to serve as equalizers in the career world. You have the potential to elevate your career and the ability to elevate others. Bring it on!
Caroline Dowd-Higgins authored the book "This Is Not the Career I Ordered" and maintains the career reinvention blog of the same name.
She is the Director of Career & Professional Development and Adjunct Faculty at Indiana University Maurer School of Law and hosts the national CBS Radio Show Career Coach Caroline on Tuesdays at 5pm ET. Caroline also contributes to AOL Jobs, CNN Money, and More Magazine online. Her new Career Tips App for iPhone and Android is available free for downloading.