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 is a Toronto based career coach and author. 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. Kleinberg’s is the author of the book ‘Employee Rights and Employer Wrongs, an everyman’s guide to navigating the complex world of labour and employment law’.

Reader Discussion: 41 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.

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

    • 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?!

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