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February 6, 2013Everyone’s got advice for women, and much of that advice is related to career advancement. Some of it is even pretty good. But it’s wise to think about what certain advice means in the context of your organization before following it. Recent Catalyst research provides examples of specific actions women can take to boost their careers—and the careers of those around them:

1. Seek out “hot” jobs. Recent Catalyst research suggests that women may not be getting the high-visibility, mission-critical, international projects that generate credibility and result in advancement. Can you find opportunities to put yourself forward for more of these “hot” assignments? Can you recommend other women for similar projects? Do your company’s leadership development programs result in equal opportunities for men and women to get involved in these types of projects?

2. Get a sponsor. Successful women and men consistently point to the influence of a powerful sponsor who helped advance their careers. Women frequently participate in mentorship programs, which can be helpful for honing skills and building confidence, but the active sponsorship of an influential individual is more likely to open doors. Does your organization have a formal sponsorship program to connect senior people with high-potential employees? Does your workplace encourage ambitious and talented employees to seek advice and support from senior executives?

3. Take credit. Another Catalyst report suggests that women benefit from ensuring that their achievements and performance are recognized. This helps get them noticed by sponsors who can move their career forward. Does your manager know what you’ve achieved? Do your performance reviews allow you to highlight your own accomplishments?

4. Learn the unwritten rules. Why do some people seem to rise effortlessly within a company while others work equally hard without success? We’ve found that the climbers understand the unwritten rules and learn to navigate the corporate culture. Can you see the impact of unwritten rules in your own or others’ experiences? Can you learn to navigate the culture more successfully?  

5. Be a Catalyst. You may be a CEO who can change an entire corporation. Or maybe you’re a new manager who can ensure that women in your unit are given equal opportunities. Or you’re a recent graduate who is trying to figure out how your organization works. Whoever you are, you can change your own life, and be a catalyst for change within your company. Don’t forget to share your experiences as a Catalyst with us!