You may rank higher than your young coworkers, but they still know a thing or two (or 10) about advancing on the job that you may not. In fact, many working women are getting reverse mentors, more junior coworkers who guide them. If you haven't been matched up with one, here's what to consider doing, courtesy of Gen Y. Photo by Getty Images.
1. Share your weaknesses and failures. "Transparency is the new credibility," says Deanna Utroske, social media brand director for New York Women in Communications, a nonprofit that provides training and support to members, who work in journalism, advertising, public relations and more. Admitting you don't know everything shows that you're looking for something new to learn. So at your next meeting, bring up your latest challenge to boost your integrity. It's also a chance to revisit what you do know and find ways to apply that to the project at hand, says Utroske.
2. Brand yourself online. Boomers tend not to do this, says Jene Kapela, EdD, founder of Leadership Solutions, a Florida-based company that works with organizations to develop leaders. But Millennials entered the workforce during the recession, so self-promotion, like including links to personal websites on their resumes, was essential, notes Christine Stack, who recruits and trains employees for major companies for her agency, MEC. Step one: Register your domain name-i.e., DebbieJenkins.com-with a site like GoDaddy.com. Then, create the site with easy-to-use tools like WordPress or About.me. Include samples of your work or testimonials from co-workers to back up your qualifications, says Pete Kistler, co-founder of BrandYourself.com. Lastly, create-or perfect-your LinkedIn profile, a link to which usually shows at the top of the results when someone Googles you.
3. Be an opinion leader. Workers in their 20s expect to be a vital part of the conversation on social media. "They don't wait for a seat at the VIP table. They just pull up a chair!" says Utroske. Use this strategy to, say, find presenters for that conference you're putting together, or to keep up on experts at a company you'd like to work with. Then, create relationships with those professionals. Stack, for instance, writes a monthly blog for TalentZoo.com, in which she replies to comments from readers. "Exchanging points of view with industry peers demonstrates my value," she says.
4. Know your worth. Unlike many older women who patiently wait for their annual review, newbies bring up compensation as often as necessary. So check out LiveCareer.com and PayScale.com to see how much others in your role make. If you're underpaid, ask to meet with your manager. Come prepared with facts on average salaries and explain why your better-than-your-counterparts' performance is worthy of additional compensation. It's also wise to take on more responsibility or lead a project, suggests Kimberly A. Eddleston, PhD, associate professor at Northeastern University's D'Amore-McKim School of Business. And if that doesn't work? "Obtain another job offer," she urges. The hope is that your boss will match it, but only use this tactic if you're willing to leave.
5. Stay on top of new job sites. Job seekers over 40 don't know the latest ways to find opportunities, insists Kathy Cardozo, job coach and recruiter for Google and other major companies. Recent college grads bypass the obvious sources, going straight to new sites, like CollegeFeed, that focus on making connections. While LinkedIn and Indeed need to be part of your arsenal, don't overlook Google+, a newer social media platform than Facebook, says Cardozo. You can send posts to specific groups of contacts and hold remote interviews through the video chat function. Best of all, public Google+ content shows up higher in Google search results. Like LinkedIn, it's a good way to get noticed for your expertise. Talentral, which launched in July 2013, is also worth checking out.
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6. Look beyond job titles. "Millennials just want a dynamic position that will give them the experience they're after," points out Dr. Kapela. Women in the middle of their careers, though, believe you have to pay your dues to get ahead and are more likely to make excuses for not going for a position that sounds too high-level. Ditch negative thinking! You don't have to go through C to get from B to D.
7. Teach what you know. Sharing digital skills with parents since they were pre-teens, teaching is second nature for Milliennials, says Utroske. Even though you may not have been born tech-savvy, you can still teach skills you've perfected, like "how to host a lively, productive conference call or how to find the most economical solution to a client's goal," suggests Utroske. Making time to instruct colleagues reinforces your skills' value and proves your commitment to your company's success. Go to 4020Vision.com for the inside track on sharing insight with younger cohorts.
8. Make snap decisions. In Millennial culture, it's valuable to go on to what's next without hesitating. "A clear yes or no decision is one that you can move forward from," explains Utroske. Unlike them, you have years of experience informing your intuition. Use it! "Turn down that project that doesn't feel right and partner with a new agency because you just know you should," says Utroske.
9. Find a cause. Millennials rank "opportunity to make a difference" among their top three priorities, says Amanda Augustine, job search expert for TheLadders, an online job-matching service. Many organizations provide opportunities to help out at shelters and raise money for charity. Get involved, or volunteer for a cause that's important to you. You'll feel good about it while growing your network and becoming more marketable, says Augustine. Recruiters like to see charity work or donations on online profiles, since it shows you're able to think about the big picture and see beyond the day to day.
10. Rethink your network. Those fresh out of college naturally have a limited pool of professional connections-and so they reach out to anyone and everyone in their network to advance their career. "No contact is too new or too long gone," says Utroske. Coworkers from early jobs can speak to your character while recent contacts speak to your stellar first impression-hugely important if you're in client-focused fields.