The no. 1 action women should take to advance their careers in 2015 is move outside their comfort zones, according to a new poll by the Financial Women’s Association.
That was the response of 78 percent of the 145 men and women who took the online survey. Respondents also said that women need to advocate for themselves more (57 percent), and increase their use of networks and connections (47 percent).
“Being comfortable in the career or environment in which a woman operates might hold them back from applying for a promotion or for a new job,” says Jennifer Openshaw, executive director of FWA. “They are uncomfortable putting themselves out there to be interviewed, and opening themselves up to a career change can be frightening.”
In addition, Openshaw says “It is never to late to build new skills that might be outside your comfort zone but might make you more competitive and more effective at our job.”
The organization suggests women advocate for themselves in several ways, from leading a new initiative at their company, to authoring an article or research paper. “There are so many ways women can share their capabilities, their successes, their wins,” says Openshaw.
“At any level, confidence plays such a big role,” says Openshaw. “Women should participate in conversations, provide opinions, ask for a raise, or take on a challenging new role. If you are confident in what it is you are communicating, people will pay attention to you.”
In addition, women should expand their networks in the workplace through professional associations, industry conferences or their alma maters. “Never go to lunch alone,” she added.