3 Career Mantras Every Woman Should Learn

I’m a legal recruiter. On April 4, Equal Pay Day, I found myself thinking about some of the things that I have learned from the many extraordinary female candidates I’ve worked with over the years. I realized that the lessons I’ve drawn from their stories all tend to fall within three themes. What follows are three mantras you can repeat to yourself in order to benefit from their experiences.

1.“I am worthy of my success.”

I recently had a conversation with a total superstar: on paper, and in person, she was simply outstanding. Yet despite her academic and professional accomplishments, she confided that she often feels inadequate and that she can’t believe it when she is recognized for her excellent work.

How many of us have a little voice in our head, telling us that we are not good enough? In my experience, this self-doubt is far more widespread than you might expect.

Many call this strange, self-defeating mentality the “Impostor Syndrome” (most recently Sheryl Sandberg — the COO of Facebook — used this term in her book Lean In).

So what is the cure for Impostor Syndrome? Start simply: if you step back and look at your situation objectively and take a deep breath, you will discover that you ARE good enough. How do I know? Here is my evidence: you wouldn’t have been hired and kept on if you couldn’t do the work. You wouldn’t have been entrusted with plum assignments, promotions, and bonuses if you weren’t worthy.

The next time you hear that nasty little questioning voice, try drowning it out with the facts. Remind yourself of your professional successes: that difficult problem you worked through, the client whose bacon you saved, your accolades and awards. Replace negative illusions with positive reality.

Listen to me: you are not a fraud. You deserve what you have achieved. Do not misinterpret the fact that you are facing challenges as evidence that you do not have what it takes to overcome those challenges.

2.“I will not second-guess myself.”

Not long ago, one of my candidates gave notice to her employer after deciding to accept a job offer she was genuinely excited about.

Unfortunately, rather than graciously accepting this woman’s decision (or making a counteroffer for that matter!) her current employer questioned her judgment. “You’re making a terrible career move.” “They (her future employer) aren’t any good.” “You really need to think this through some more.” “Let’s talk about it tomorrow.”

Let’s be very clear: comments like these are manipulative, obnoxious, and condescending. I have no hesitation at all in telling you to completely ignore advice coming from people who benefit from your NOT going through with a career decision you’ve made. Trust your thought process. Trust your judgment. Trust that you are an intelligent person who knows what you want and go for it!

3“I will ask for what I want.”

One of my very first candidates was a fearless woman who completely floored me when she negotiated aggressively with her potential employer for more compensation. I was afraid she would lose the offer entirely. Guess what? She got every last thing she asked for. Here’s why:

  • She was the best candidate for the job.
  • Her compensation requirements were not unreasonable.
  • There was less risk in drawing a line in the sand because she didn’t need to leave her current employer.

My candidate got considerably more than the initial offer because she asked. It is as simple as that.

Set yourself up for success in negotiating higher compensation at your current employer or when moving to a new position. Do your research:

  • Know the market parameters for the job.
  • Ask others in your field what they can share about comparables.
  • Be realistic about what the market rate is for your role.
  • Ask yourself if you can afford to potentially lose the offer.

Once you enter negotiations, pay close attention to how the decision-makers respond to your request. Do they sound open-minded or were they turned off? Once you have done your homework, if you are confident that you are worth more money, don’t let fear keep you from asking for more.

I hope you recognize your worth in the workplace. I wish you success and happiness. If you would like to talk to me about how to move forward in your legal career or if you are in the market for a great lawyer, please send me an InMail so we can set up a time to talk.