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The women's 5-step guide to get noticed at work

The women's 5-step guide to get noticed at work

We've all heard the old chestnut: Part of the reason why women don't earn as much as men is that they simply don't ask for raises as often. As it turns out, that's just not true. New research by nonprofit business group Catalyst has found that women ask for raises just as much as men.

Women more likely to be punished financially

The study, as reported by The Washington Post, found that among MBA graduates, women actually experienced slower salary growth when they had conversations with employers about promotions and raises than those who stayed put. Men, meanwhile, had much better luck changing careers and negotiating for more money. If you're a woman reading the above and planning your next move, consider the following tactics to get you a real leg up in the office. They may be more subtle than marching in and asking for a raise, and because of that, they might just pay off.

1. Get smart about getting social

You're already aware of the "mandatory fun" that is company parties and picnics, but grabbing your boss a beer from the cooler isn't going to translate to that promotion you want. Instead, get savvy about your social outreach: If your team leader participates in the local breast cancer awareness walk every year, dust off your cross trainers and start fundraising. Best case scenario, you'll connect with multiple leadership-minded folks in your office and elsewhere. And even if your generosity goes unnoticed, you're still helping a great cause.

2. Make a plan before you speak up at meetings

It's a great idea to be engaged in the weekly team meeting snoozer, but you don't want to come in with scattershot ideas and let-me-Google-that-for-you questions. Instead, get the agenda in advance, do some research, and think of ways you can use your unique skills to approach the problems your higher-ups will be bringing to the table. They'll appreciate your initiative, and you might find that time flies before you can finally attack the doughnuts in the break room.

3. Connect with your underlings, too

In the upward-thinking world of corporate advancement, it might seem counterintuitive to look down the ladder. If you do, however, you'll find interns and new hires that would benefit from your experience. Take the initiative to work with these new folks, even if it's as simple as an impromptu demonstration on how to unstick the copy machine. It could lead to formal connections like mentorships, making you invaluable as an employee. And if one of the underlings becomes your boss through the magic of workplace movement, at least you've got a friend in the boardroom.

4. Secretly boost your education portfolio

If you're thinking about going back to school, you don't need to take a hiatus from your focused career advancement plan. Online programs can round out your skills, whether you're looking for technical, vocational or business training. (Perhaps you could earn a criminal justice degree to solve the case of who is stealing the doughnuts in the break room.) Completing your coursework whenever you're off work means not having to change up your schedule for school.

5. Be more cautious with your social networking

Ever since you and your team manager walked arm-in-arm across that pink-ribbon finish line, you've been Facebook friends. The only problem is that Facebook is where you regularly publish your work rants. Before you accept her request, you need to have your privacy settings locked down. Sites like AdjustYourPrivacy take only a minute and can give you a full audit of your settings across multiple sites in minutes. As any of these settings can quietly change at any time, it's smart to go back and readjust every six months. And the smartest move of all: Lay off the public work rants.

Career advancement happens all year

If the tips above are connected by one thread, it's the idea that forward movement at work doesn't just happen during promotion season. Show your worth outside your daily work and you're more likely to make an impression on the bosses who might not be familiar with the technical details of your actual job. Call it calculating or call it common sense, but if it works, it's worth it.