get ahead in your career

3 Surefire Ways to Get Ahead in Your Career Without Dating the Boss

By Eryka T. Johnson

Women have been stereotyped for years when it comes to advancing their careers in corporate. There are been several storylines written in movies that often depict women having illicit relationships or performing sexual favors for her boss to get promoted to a better position. Contrary to what many believe, it is possible for a woman to get ahead in the workplace without compromising her character, devaluing herself, or parading her body. In this article, we will discuss 3 surefire ways to get ahead in your career without dating the boss.

It breaks my heart to hear about a junior executive offered a better promotion in the telecommunications industry contingent on her doing one thing. Or an executive assistant to the director of marketing desiring to assist the CEO but is requested to perform the unthinkable to show her eagerness to getting to the next level. Or even, a young intern working in the White House who performs sexual favors for the President to secure her permanent positon in government. There are so many stories out there where professional women are doing the un-imaginable to move to the next level or get better pay.

Recently, I came across a study conducted by the Center for Work-Life Policy in an article written for Business Insider. The results were staggering.

  • 34% of executive women claim they know a female colleague who has had an affair with a boss. 
  • 15% of women at the director level or above admitted to having affairs themselves.
  • 37% claim the action was rewarded: they said that women involved in affairs received a career boost as a result.

Where is the dignity women?

Although these results highlight the action of some women it does not speak for all of us. Say no to sexual favors for a reward. You don’t have to wear tight or even short skirts. No need to reveal all your cleavage or wear the brightest red lipstick to get noticed. Of course, you will get attention but this is not the attention you would like.

I want to give 3 surefire ways to get ahead where women stand in their power and where their ability to lead provide opportunities for advancement rather than what’s under their skirts.

Manage your career and set a goal to get promoted.

Women often have to manage their own careers particularly in the absence of true sponsors and mentors. In doing so, you must pre-program your mind. The best way to do that is through goal setting. Goals are good because they immediately tell your brain to shift in that area. But, try not to get in the trap of setting goals and doing NOTHING to put them into action.

Detail your plan to move to the next level. Be bold. Be assertive. Be realistic with your goal. Give yourself a deadline to get there ensuring all your activity is focused in value-added areas. Do periodic checks along the way. Most importantly, communicate your plan to your manager and desire to take on more challenging roles. Let him play an active role of helping you get there. This is what a great leader will do. Expect your manager to provide development opportunities and special projects that allow you to display your capability.

Connect with your network particularly those individuals with influence.

It’s all about who you know and who knows you. Ensure you keep your connections warm especially with those who have influence and would gladly speak on your behalf. I’ve had a few connections in my network that have helped me get re-located for new career opportunities on more than one occasion. Your network serves as your means to navigating corporate and positioning yourself to get considered for more opportunities and even assignments you did not know were available.

If you are not a people’s person that is fine. However, you must learn to “do what you need to do” to “go where you need to go”. Talk to others. Let them know your interests. Call in a favor. See how you can help them as well. Connection is key. Build relationships that are beneficial at the end of the day.

Share your accomplishments with your manager often.

Be confident in your capabilities as a professional woman. You have studied your craft for years and you excel on your job. This is great. But often times this is not enough for women. We must gracefully strategize for that next move. You simply need to practice leadership strategies that get your noticed. How often do you promote the results you’ve delivered to your manager?

A study conducted by Catalyst, Inc. entitled “The Myth of the Ideal Worker: Does Doing All the Right Things Really Get Women Ahead?” found…

“Women must adopt strategies different from their male colleagues’ to advance their careers. When women were proactive in making their achievements known, they advanced further, increased their compensation growth, and were more satisfied with their careers…”

You must become masterful at promoting yourself even if it feels awkward. I’m naturally a modest individual and sometimes feel self-promotion is bragging. But honestly, it is what needs to be done to get to the next level. Share your results in email to your manager and paint the picture on how you added value. Have a brief conversation with him in the break room. Find simple ways to interject what you are doing. Better yet, set up a standing one-on-one meeting with him on a monthly basis.

You can get ahead in your career and these are just a few tips to get you started.

What have you tried personally to advance in your career that has worked? Please share below.

Stand out,

Eryka T. Johnson