Editor’s note: In recent weeks, the PreparedU Project has invited successful and accomplished executives to share insights into how women can help themselves and each other achieve success in the workforce. PreparedU research gave young millennials high grades for their skills, and what follows elaborates upon how to put them to good use.
Every young woman has to develop her own professional success style. And this individual approach has to feel natural and comfortable — or it won’t work. But there are still some essential elements that recent female college graduates need to consider, and incorporate, into their customized strategies.
Here are five of them:
Cultivate communication skills.
A large part of success depends upon interactions with a wide variety of people. By cultivating communication skills, you will be able to get your point or message across more clearly and directly, without alienating, angering, or confusing people.
Focus on improving analytics skills.
Even if you aren't in an analytical job, you need to remember that today's workplace is driven by numbers, data and analytics. The more understanding you have about these areas, the more likely you are to be successful.
Growing and cultivating a strong career network has lasting benefits. Given that the average person changes jobs every five years (the time span is often shorter for millennials), having a strong career network can make career advancement easier, because today's job market often requires an "in" to get past the HR barrier.
Don't be afraid to ask for promotions and raises.
This is one area in which women have historically shown to be lacking. They aren't always direct in negotiating for a better position or salary, and they are often surpassed by male counterparts who aren't afraid to be direct. Of course, women should come to the table prepared with materials or examples that explain why they are a valuable part of the team; how they are valued in the marketplace (e.g., a Payscale salary report); and why they deserve advancement. The absolutely wrong thing to do is to go into the meeting uninformed and ill-equipped to explain your position. If you do that, you’ll simply come across as asking for more money with no justification.
Understand your weakenesses and don't be afraid to rely on other people.
Being successful is often a team effort and requires collaboration. By understanding your weaknesses and forming bonds with your colleagues, you can bolster each other in the workplace, and achieve greater success.
I believe that these five elements are vital to recent female graduates. But the good news is that Bentley’s PreparedU research indicates that most corporate leaders grade women higher on the skills that they consider critical to success in the business world. So young women already have a professional leg up.
Katie Bardaro is lead economist and director of analytics at PayScale, creator of the largest database of individual compensation profiles in the world, containing more than 40 million salary profiles.