Share this Story

The working girl's guide to being confident

Laura Willard is a law school grad who has successfully avoided using her education for eight years and counting. She's a wife and an adoptive mom to two kids. Motherhood is the best job she never knew she wanted so much until she had it...

Get what you need at work

Not all women are alike, but some of us aren’t the best at asserting ourselves at work. We don't say no, we don’t ask for raises and we smile, even if we’re cracking a little inside. Learn to get what you need -- and deserve -- from your job.

Get what you need at work

How to assert yourself at work

A few key areas exist where women need to really assert themselves. Consider the following:

1Asking for a raise

Corley points out how women will assert themselves to get a job, but once they have it, they stop. "If you start a job in your early 20s [and remain until you're 30] and don't assert yourself for raises, you've undermined your salary earning potential over the long run," explains Corley.

It makes sense -- your subsequent employers will review your past salary history when making an offer. If you've made no efforts to increase your salary over the years, new employers will offer less money. So what do you do? Corley offers the following advice.

  • Understand what's holding you back. Analyze your perception of yourself, how other people perceive you and how you relate to your colleagues.
  • Decide what is most important to you. People make decisions based on value.
  • Cultivate healthy boundaries. "A boundary means, ultimately, I'm in this job to be employed and this is a business. I'm here to help this business make money. That's the purpose of employment," explains Corley. Women often turn co-workers into their second family and close friends. "Then, when it comes to making business decisions, i.e., earnings and promotions, those take a back seat," Corley notes. "A boundary is: 'I'm drawing the line -- these are my friends, but the bottom line is this is still a business. I need to be productive, I need to make money. I'm building a career.' "

Learn the art of bragging >>

2Saying no

Use the following tips to learn how to say no.

  • Value yourself. "People treat you based on how you value yourself," says Corley. "So saying 'no' is actually creating a boundary. We train people how to treat us." When you're leaning to say no, you want to be able to have a mindset: If I don't stand up for me, who will? If I don't value myself, who will? People treat you based on how you value yourself. "We train people how to treat us. If we don't like the way we're being treated, we have to ask ourselves what are we allowing and why?" says Corley.
  • Be accountable. Corley also suggests finding a colleague who will hold you accountable. Ask someone you trust to keep you in check.
  • Don't take it personally. "Men tend to get further ahead because they understand that work is for business," says Corley. The female brain is generally different, so understand your personality type, be clear about what you want and then take the personal component out of it. Just say no!

There are benefits to saying no! >>

Get what you need at work

Corley adds a very important point: "You need to manage not only your performance, but the perception of your performance as well. Every day is a job interview."

Women are valuable contributors to the work force. We need to make sure we assert ourselves!

More about women and careers

Five ways to get a raise
Talk to your boss about getting a raise
Risky career moves for the gutsy woman

2 of 2
New in Living

And you'll see personalized content just for you whenever you click the My Feed .

SheKnows is making some changes!

b h e a r d !

Welcome to the new SheKnows Community,

where you can share your stories, ideas

and CONNECT with millions of women.

Get Started