I am a 25-year-old woman and I am pretty smart and very ambitious but somehow at work, I feel like nobody takes me seriously even though I volunteer for extra assignments and do a great job. What can I do to be taken seriously at work and maybe get promoted eventually?

—Ambitious (United States)


It could be that your bosses and co-workers underestimate your abilities because of your age. It could also be that there may be ways you can portray yourself more seriously. For example, many people are humble even when self-confident and so may not quite be portraying their abilities fully—for example, volunteering for assignments that aren’t as visible or high-priority or even making statements but using intonation that makes those statements sound uncertain or like a question.

I would ask one of your successful friends who has been in the work force a while (preferably in a similar field) for their feedback on how you can be taken more seriously on work. They might give you their impression as far as the way you speak or dress or generally purport yourself. Then make those changes and notice how things shift over the next month or two.

Next, I would ask your supervisor for a meeting and let them know you are wanting to X, Y, and Z (be specific about what your hopes are for the next step in your career there) and ask them what you need to do to make that happen. Go prepared with a portfolio of specific things you’ve accomplished at the company and how you’ve contributed thus far.

Best of luck, my friend.



Why do people always want me to be their assistant instead of promoting me or giving me higher-level jobs?

—Stunted in My Career (United States)


Haha. Well, there are a number of possible reasons for this. One possibility might be that you are too phenomenal at your job and your bosses have the smarts to recognize this and are unwilling to let you move into another position. Put together a list of your qualifications and a list of what you’ve done for the company as well as reasons you’d be ideal for other positions, then have a talk with your supervisor. Let him/her know that you are excited about using your skills in an expanded arena, and ask about what you need to do to secure a position you’d like (and have some specific open positions in mind).

If your supervisor is not open to the idea of you being promoted to another position, ask what their reservations are as far as you moving into another position. If they really need you to keep doing one particular aspect of your current job, perhaps you could negotiate to keep doing that specific part of your job for them while undertaking a new position. There are many ways to make it a win-win situation for everyone. Have fun exploring!

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