10 Mistakes Women Make at Work - URBANETTE: Lifestyle Magazine & Blog


10 Mistakes Women Make at Work

Some of biggest mistakes you’re making at work may be subconsciously driven.


Whether you think you’re kicking butt at work, or you are barely able to drag your butt out of bed each day, you’re likely making a mistake or two in the office that could cost you in the long run. Trying to get ahead in your career is tough enough without accidental self-sabotage!

10 Mistakes Women Make at WorkThe office environment is a hotbed for all sorts of pressure, and it doesn’t help that certain workplaces carry double standards that place extra loads on womens’ shoulders. While women in the workplace decades ago may have felt the need to mirror men to succeed, that’s no longer the case.

Suzanne Kleinberg, author of “From Playstation to Workstation,” shares her insights on workplace “dos” and “don’ts” in this exclusive article for Urbanette. Whether you’re just starting out or already in management, you should be cautious not to make these assumptions:

1. Using appearance to reflect your individuality

While every girl has her own personal style, knowing how to modify yours could be the difference between rejection and respect. You want people to notice your ideas and contributions, not your mid-thigh mole or bra color.

10 Mistakes Women Make at WorkOne of the worst blunders that young women make is wearing overly sexy clothing and excessive jewelry or makeup. You should always dress for the job you want, not the one you have! People’s respect for you will grow once they see you know how to respect yourself through your dress.

2. Thinking that passiveness = politeness

Many people make the mistake of submitting a résumé or business proposal and waiting to be called back. When they don’t hear back, they assume that they are rejected. Not true.

You need to follow-up with the recipient. This demonstrates initiative and confidence. Even if you get a rejection, at least you’ll know that you should move on. It may take a few attempts to get a response. Don’t be a nuisance, but do be persistent. On average, it takes 5-12 times to make a “sale” – most people stop at 3. Don’t lose out because you assume the worst!

3. Thinking that workplace rejection signifies that you’re unworthy

Women tend to take unfavorable responses as personal rejection. Rejection for a job or your project proposal is a decision based solely on business viability. Learn from it and move forward.

10 Mistakes Women Make at Work

4. A little flirting never hurts… right?

The best way to alienate your coworkers is to act flirty. Do it and you’ll send a signal to everyone that you need to rely on your sexuality and not your intellect. Women will resent you, and men won’t respect you. You’ll be marginalized and denied career-building promotions.

5. Not volunteering

You can get the best work experiences and develop great networks through volunteering. Many charities are desperate for volunteers. This means that you may be able to get experiences that a paying job would never allow you. For example, you may start working at an animal shelter scooping litter boxes, but you may offer to help with fundraising, event planning, marketing or graphic design. These organizations can’t afford professionals and don’t require people to have experience to preform these tasks. Sure you won’t get paid, but you’ll get an opportunity to fulfill your graphic design aspirations, add more to your credentials, and build your resume.

6. Thinking that making more money will make you happier

Studies show that money in itself doesn’t lead to job satisfaction. For many people enjoying what they do and having a work/life balance is more important. When you enjoy your work, you excel at it and, as a result, your career benefits.

7. Thinking attaining power will make you more ‘masculine’

10 Mistakes Women Make at Work

Over the years, TV has shown successful businesswomen in mannish suits, short hair and aggressive demeanors. Many women are subliminally influenced by these cues, and fear that as they move up the ladder, they’ll appear more masculine and, in their minds, less attractive. While women in the workplace decades ago may have felt the need to mirror men to succeed, that’s no longer the case. Femininity isn’t equated with weakness anymore.

8. Waiting for opportunities to come to you

Many people fear speaking up when they want something. They wait to be approached for a promotion before showing interest, minimizing their chances for success. If you’re ready for a promotion, more responsibility, or a raise, be proactive and approach your manager. Let him or her know that you’ve earned the opportunity. Leave the aggression and arrogance at the door, and present your case with confidence. Even if rejected, you’ll earn respect and consideration for the next opportunity.

10 Mistakes Women Make at Work

9. Thinking that being liked = being respected

Studies have shown that young women have a stronger need than men to be seen as “likable.” Likability isn’t synonymous with respect. People who make congeniality a priority tend to be indecisive and submissive, which definitely won’t help in earning respect. You need to balance confidence, collaboration, decisiveness and openness. Don’t be a pushover just because you fear stepping on toes.

10. Thinking that nice girls never say no

Many women bring their nurturing side to work and end up taking on too many tasks. While being a team player and feeling needed is gratifying, too many duties will result in failure with a lot of them. Learn your limit and when (and how) to say no.

The workplace is a place of great opportunities, but can be filled with barriers too. Believe in yourself, keep your eyes open for new opportunities and remember to enjoy what you do and where you are headed!

Suzanne Kleinberg is a Toronto based career coach and author who has provided consulting services to corporations, not-for-profit organizations and individual clients. With a B.A. in Economics from York University, Masters in Project Management and PMP certification, Kleinberg is an avid ‘career changer’, having worked in a variety of fields that include stock brokerage, advertising, television production, financial and IT.

In 2010, Kleinberg founded Potential to Soar, a unique career and talent coaching service wherein she guides new graduates, seasoned professionals and corporations, small and large, through private coaching, customized workshops and psychometric assessment tools.

Kleinberg’s books include Employee Rights and Employer Wrongs, an everyman’s guide to navigating the complex world of labour and employment law, It’s All About the Elizabeths, which introduces financial management to teens, and From Playstation to Workstation, aimed at youth starting their careers.

Kleinberg’s books are available in paperback via Amazon, Barnes & Noble and her website, potentialtosoar.com

Reader Discussion: 40 Comments

  1. Pamela Fuller

    I don’t dress at work to look sexy, I dress to be competent.

  2. Wendy

    Having worked for several companies with different cultures and therefore different dress codes, I can tell that the way a woman dress can give an impression how smart or powerful a woman is.

  3. Josephine Murphy

    Believe in yourself. Don’t flirt to get a position. Use your skill not your body to attract men.

  4. Frances Shapiro

    You should try volunteering at charity events. They are good shots on your resume.

  5. I hate seeing girls who wear inappropriate attire at work. Men will disrespect them often. They should wear proper attire at work.

    • Hannah Mayers

      A lot of professional women are guilty of “fashion faux pas” without realizing it and often times can lead to being passed over for a job or promotion.

  6. Robert Patel

    I hate women who act like she’s the prettiest among others. We work to earn money, and not to flirt. *roll eyes*

  7. Lancy Stanford

    Haha! I remember when I was applying for my first job, and I got rejected. Dude! I cried like a million times. I though that I am useless, and I learned nothing from school. Lol

  8. Marina Bozek

    I agree with #8!! You can’t be successful if you are just waiting for success to chase you! You have to reach your goals because goals will never reach you.

  9. Jessie Fernande

    Yeah. These are all right. As what I observed on my women colleagues. They are pretentious and flirty. I hate that kind of attitude.

  10. Yuliya Bruce

    Don’t abuse yourself. Sometimes, you have to say no. You don’t have to impress your boss by getting all the works and end as a failure.

    • Donna

      Yeah, I say “no.” But I make sure to always weigh the risks and benefits of every refusal, both personally and professionally. I always consider this: if I say “yes” will it help in meeting my professional goals or would just make me feel stressed, exhausted and burned out?!

    • Oh wow! Tell me, how do I say NO without hurting my career?!

  11. Luthi Sanders

    Who doesn’t want to be powerful? Of course, use your power to become a better person and a better leader to others. Being powerful won’t make you masculine.

  12. Jesse Wyss

    Who says money can’t make you happier? That’s BS!!!! How can you afford to buy things, and dine at a restaurant without money? The money will make you happy!

  13. Kseniya Tomlin

    I believe in #5. I volunteered in different charity events, and they allowed me to use my skills. When I applied for a job, they hired me in an instant. They said that I have a good portfolio.

  14. A friend of mine told me that she’s flirting her boss, and I asked her. “Why?” She answered that she need it for a promotion, and she’s lack skill to be promoted. Why do you want to get promoted at first?

  15. Lana Wiliam

    Rejection doesn’t mean you are unworthy. That is a childish thinking! We are living the real life, and you have to face rejection. You are worth it!

  16. Alena Martin

    Don’t lose hope when you got rejected for a particular job. You can always apply for another one. There are lots of opportunities out there, waiting for you. Being doesn’t mean that you are not for this field.

  17. Nataliya Smith

    Really? Number 2? Should we follow up our application? Waiting for a call is nonsense. If you’re waiting for a call for too long, don’t expect too much.

  18. Jurik Smith

    Cmon. You bra can’t do anything with your job unless you show it off to the crowd. Dress to impress by wearing proper working attire. Stop showing off your bra, it’s disgusting.

  19. We all want to impress our boss, especially if we are aiming for a position, but there are things that you have to remember. These tips are very useful because these are the common mistakes of women.

  20. Angelo Henderso

    Let me add this observation, women tend to “over decorate” the desk! I think there’s nothing wrong to have small touches of home around, but there’s a need to be conscious of personal clutter.

  21. Selli Coaze

    As a mid-level career woman, I learned that I don’t need anyone’s permission to ask a question. If I have a point to make, I have to make it clearly and succinctly.

  22. Juli Woods

    I hate seeing women who wear sexy at work. We go to work to earn money, and not to flirt. Dress according to your environment.

  23. Hena Taylor

    You can’t get a job that easy. Before I get a job after I graduated, I applied to 10 different types of jobs. I started working on a job that is far from what I took.

  24. Lusi Martin

    Flirting is a bad idea for applying for a job. You’ll get hired because you’re a flirt, and not for being talented.

  25. Jessi Agusta

    Rejection is normal when you are applying for a job. You can’t get a job if you’re not eager to get one.

  26. Honey Smith

    These are all right. These are the most common mistakes that women do at work.

  27. Bela Christo

    I believe that both men and women are just equal when it comes to office works. If you have to applicants, you must look in their experience, and capabilities, not on their gender.

  28. Genevieve Scarano

    Number 4 makes me laugh! LOL Probably because I have had a number of “very pretty and sexy” colleagues who most people in the office (myself included) believe that they are using their sexuality to get what they want and don’t actually produce good outputs……

  29. These are great tips! As a college student very new to working in a professional environment, I have definitely been guilty of some of these (especially confusing passivity and politeness!) I'll be keeping these in mind moving forward…

  30. I tend to try to have everyone like me, but does that mean they respect me? Not at all. I've made other mistakes as well, such as not calling back a job. Being persistent shows how much you want the job. I've learn from all these mistakes now and probably won't repeat them. Thanks for the tips!

  31. Hannah Mayers

    Such wonderful tips! 🙂 I also think it's very important to stay true to your core beliefs and values regardless of what your boss is telling you, or any increase of money that may be offered for giving them up. At the end of the day, your dignity is your biggest prize.

  32. Really useful tips 🙂

  33. Definitely true…

  34. Randie Cadiogan

    No. 8 is essential. In a casual discussion with my line manager, I brought up a position I said I liked and aimed. He beamed at me and said that he was happy I was already eyeing positions for my advancement. He then helped me with this goal. 🙂

  35. Arabella Clarington

    Flirting doesn’t get you anywhere career-wise. And I’ve experienced being in a great-paying  job before but I didnt feel a sense of fulfillment.

  36. Courtney Watson

    This list is really helpful. In the workplace, being “passive” doesn’t help. It won’t give you success. There are things that you really SHOULD tell (even if you think your superior won’t like what you’ll tell). Remember to speak out BUT always do it in a respectful tone!

Join in the Conversation! Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *