My attention was drawn to a recent Seattle Times article entitled “Study finds women flunk at self-promotion” (12.19.04). Naturally, I read it with great interest! The article said that one of the reasons more women aren’t occupying more high-level positions in corporations is that they “tend not to embrace the art of self-promotion”.
The study found that women think more about the company and its welfare, and not enough about strategic career moves and compensation. And women rank the “communal” aspects of a workplace as very important. Not surprisingly, men tend to be driven more by what’s at stake for them personally. It’s not that men don’t care about their companies, but they tend to rate career development, compensation, and a balanced workload as things that will keep them committed to an organization.
Women often react negatively to this, seeing men as “show-offs”. And of course we all know of people who were promoted but didn’t deserve it. But it is time for women to place a higher premium on their own career development and compensation. And like it or not, mastering the art of self-promotion is essential if you want to continue your climb in an organization and be noticed and remembered when it comes time for a raise.
When people talk about marketing, often they assume this applies only to those who are self-employed. While it’s true that the self-employed must actively market to maintain their client base, marketing is just as important for those on a salary or hourly wage.
Too often, women work very hard and wait to be noticed. They often become frustrated when they see less-deserving people promoted ahead of them. Women have been trained to not “toot their own horn”, or draw unnecessary attention to themselves. And women often want, and expect, the world to be more fair then it actually is. In the ideal world, we would all work hard, do our best, and then be rewarded with raises and promotions. We wouldn’t have to promote ourselves. But the reality is, you must be your own best advocate. Otherwise you risk being seen as passive, or worse, not seen at all! Is this fair? No. But it is reality.
So how do you go about doing this? By finding ways to be visible. The more visible you are, the more likely people are to remember you, especially at raise and promotion time. This can be hard for underearners who would rather wait to be noticed. And the introverts among us often shrink from the idea of more visibility. Yet, I know introverts who have increased their visibility by writing for the company newsletter, an activity they were very comfortable with.
How else can you make yourself visible? By speaking up. When in meetings, try to think of something you can say that would contribute to the conversation. If you have a good idea for something, share it. And make sure you get the credit for it. Find ways to let people know what you are doing. For example, if you are walking down the hall and they mention a project you were involved with, you can simply interject “Yeah, I worked on that project, and boy was it complicated!” Otherwise, they may not even know you were involved.
Many people market themselves in a job environment by seeking new responsibilities. Volunteer for committee assignments where you will be working with a group of people—ideally some who have higher positions than yours. Anything you can do to procure a high-visibility assignment will greatly help people notice you and make it much more likely that your boss will agree with your request for a raise.
I recommend sitting down and making a list of all the ways you can think of to increase your visibility in your work setting. Don’t wait for people to notice you. Find creative ways to let the world know what you do and how good you are!
Feel free to e-mail me examples of how you have increased your own visibility in the work place, and I’ll share these in a future issue.
Here’s to more money!
By Mikelann Valterra, MA