I was in a meeting today when a man complimented me on my handshake. Now, my handshake is pretty firm, but it dawned on me today that men don’t compliment men on their handshakes and a whole host of other things in the workplace. So, working girl, here are three things you didn’t know you needed to succeed in the workplace – and yes, a firm handshake is number one.
In eighth grade, I went to engineering summer camp at the University of Michigan. In addition to taking classes on AutoCad, Calculus, and trying to figure out how the Egyptians built the pyramids, I took a professional development class. In this class I was first introduced to the idea of a firm handshake. Prior to this class, I had no clue that my handshake was flimsy or that you could even shake a hand wrong.
Now, the key to a good handshake is the grip. You want your inner thumb to touch that of the hand you are shaking. Don’t rest your hand lightly in theirs like a princess. Once your inner thumbs touch you want to firmly wrap your other fingers around the other persons palm and shake strongly up and down. Don’t let your wrist wobble. Keep your shake firm and strong.
Just don’t be like me and OD shake Big Tigga’s hand in the club. Time and place ladies, time and place.
Enter in engineering camp at U of M again and the same professional development class. Again, I learned what an elevator speech was. Now, I’m sure there is a technical definition, but I think of it as a synopsis of who you are, what you do, what you’re looking for, and possible benefit for whoever you’re speaking to, that can be shared with someone in 30 seconds to 1 minute, or as long as the average elevator ride is.
Here’s mine: Hi, I’m Gabrielle Hickmon a Masters student at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education studying International Educational Development. I co-founded The Reign XY, a women’s empowerment lifestyle blog that creates media for millennial women, but especially millennial women of color. We write about everything from relationships, to traveling, to politics and style. I’m looking for insight into social media marketing and SEO. Because ultimately, my goal is to grow The Reign XY and continue inspiring and uplifting my generation’s women.
Studies show that women only apply for jobs when they believe themselves to be 100% qualified, whereas men apply when they are only 60% qualified (HBR). Initially, it was believed that this statistic was due to women not having confidence in their abilities. And while I’m sure this happens often, I mean, I know I have experienced it, further data has shown that it might be due to a belief that qualifications listed on a job posting are required. Essentially meaning that women are less likely than men to try and finesse their way into a position based upon the skills and qualifications they do have if they don’t meet 100% of what’s listed on the job notice.
Women are socialized to follow the rules. This makes women less likely to apply anyway or get creative when it comes to marketing our skills and abilities. But here’s the thing, it’s not on us to tell ourselves no. And, we have every right to be as innovative in how we pitch ourselves to potential employers. We need to believe less in the rules, and more in ourselves. We need to apply for whatever job we think we want and believe that we could do. We need to propose big ideas, especially when we don’t think that anyone will go for them.
In the 21st century, getting ahead often has more to do with how you market yourself, what ideas you put forth, and who you know than anything else. Our degrees and skills might get us in the door, but we’re going to be stuck at our cubicle on the first floor if we don’t buck up and put ourselves out there.
Always apply anyway. Always do it anyway.