This Is The Best Career Strategy We've Heard In A Long Time

The conflicting advice we receive about office behavior is enough to cause anyone's head to spin. Make friends, but don't gossip. Find out what other people make, but don't make waves. Jump around from job to job, but maintain loyalty.

The reason it's so confusing is because the moves you make at your job are dependent on so many varying factors, including the formality of your office, the relationship you have with your boss...even your own personality. Which is why, while it's helpful to get as much advice as possible before you make any move, the best advice is tailored specifically to you and your circumstance.

So how do you find this career whisperer? According to journalist Jessica Bennett, it's totally doable — and best of all, no cash is required. Just round up a few friends who are as passionate about work as you are, and set up a monthly (or bi-weekly, or every few months, whatever) meeting. "You can call it a bitch session, a consciousness-raising group, whatever you want. But I joined a group early in my career and it helped immeasurably," says Bennett, who wrote about some of the lessons she learned in Feminist Fight Club: An Office Manual For a Sexist Workplace.

There are so many books, but none of them really spoke to me as a millennial about what I was actually facing," says Bennett on her impetus for writing the book, which is grounded firmly in the lessons she learned while sitting and talking about various career issues with other women in monthly living-room get-togethers. One of the biggest lessons Bennett has to offer is the importance of setting up your own group. Here, some tips on how to do it on your own. May we suggest reading the book as a way to break the ice at the first meeting?

Go outside your circle. Sometimes, the best advice can come from someone who's not in your exact career field. Bennett joined her group on the recommendation of a mentor. She was a journalist; other people in the group spanned careers from marketing to entertainment. A variety of different opinions can help you get perspective you may not get if it's just you and your cube-mate talking office politics after work.

Keep it on the DL. Yep, that means don't talk about the Fight Club (or whatever you want to call it). Making sure everything is absolutely confidential can help people feel free to share the sticky issues they might be facing at the office.

Check yourself. "So often, we've internalized this message that there's only room for a certain number of people at the top of different career fields, when that's just not true," says Bennett. "A group doesn't work if people are competitive, but of course, competitive feelings are natural. When they occur, I say, 'Think about why you're feeling that way.' One of the things we said a lot in our group was, 'Fight the patriarchy, not each other.' It was a way to reframe the competition and realize, hey, we all want to be the best we can be, and we're all in this together."

Talk little issues, too. Sure, talking about how to reach the next level at your job is important. But equally as important is talking through smaller annoyances, like not getting the face time with your boss that your cube-mate gets just because he's in his Fantasy Football League and you're not. "They may not seem like huge issues, but over time, these little things can lead to who gets a promotion and who doesn't,"says Bennett.

Get uncomfortable. One of the most eye-opening moments in the book, which Bennett backs up by research, is how women can also be sexist in the workplace. Talking through these feelings — even when they're uncomfortable — can help you figure out how to navigate your next move that much better. For instance, would you think your boss was being that hard on you if she were male instead of female? Talking through these hypotheticals with a trusted support circle can help you face your own biases and emerge even better.

Keep it regular. Some people meet once a month, some do a Listserv, some groups meet on an as-needed basis; do whatever works, but know that some sort of schedule ensures that the group doesn't disband after a few meet-ups.

Gather some informal ambassadors. You can have the most supportive Fight Club in the world, but that doesn't make it any easier if you work in a sexist, unsupportive office. That's why Bennett recommends finding allies in your office to advance the cause of equality. Speak up to a guy in the office about why it's nuts that women are always the ones expected to take notes in meetings. Make a point to alternate whether men or women do coffee runs. The point is, the small stuff matters, and carrying it out in the office is key for change on a larger level.


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