Women around the world are now becoming part of the economic fabric of society, and this is no different for Muslim women who are venturing out with their talents and entrepreneurial spirits as professionals. No matter what your career area is, as a professional Muslimah, you will no doubt want to be looking at getting ahead and increasing your success.
Having worked in the international development field across various organisations, with the opportunity to travel and meet interesting people, I thought it would be useful to share some fabulous tips I have learnt after getting advice and learning from mentors in my professional life on how to accelerate my professional growth at the age of 24.
1. Have sincere intentions
As always, the first piece of advice when starting any endeavour is to have the sincerest of intentions, especially when you are working. This can make your work rewardable and ensure there are blessings in it. Put up a reminder at your desk or in the workplace that sincerity is the key to your success. Allah says: “Whoever does righteousness, whether male or female, while he is a believer – We will surely cause him to live a good life, and We will surely give them their reward [in the Hereafter] according to the best of what they used to do.” [Qur’an: Chapter 16, Verse 97]
2. Put yourself out there and forward
One of the aspects that make an employee different from others is their ability to put themselves forward for tasks and projects that may not necessarily be in their remit. When you make yourself noticed by sharing ideas and putting forward your suggestions to management, this shows your creativity and your commitment, which is attractive to employers. It will also increase your chances to take on projects outside of your comfort zone, boosting your confidence and your skills. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be vocal and outspoken, but you can take initiative and solve issues. This way, you are more likely to get yourself noticed for a promotion or opportunities.
Get yourself noticed
One of the best pieces of advice I got early on in my career was to ‘get noticed’, as it can be easy to get lost in a big office environment among various types of personalities. After a year, I settled into the organisation and made people aware of my skills and strengths, which meant lots of new projects came my way, strengthening my skills and boosting my position within the company.
3. Take ownership for your learning
One of the mistakes many professionals make is failing to take ownership for their own learning. No matter what organisation you belong to, you will most likely have an HR department who can let you know of training programs, courses and workshops to enhance and broaden the skills needed to progress in your career. Sign up to a course that will give you a new skill so you are building on this instead of just being a ‘one-trick pony’, as some say.
Use various resources
There is also a range of resources available online to utilise at Mind Tools for improving your transferable skills like presentation, communication and organisation skills, valuable traits every employer looks for. I also advise reading books within and beyond your sector to boost your professional development; for example, one of the books I am reading at the moment is Their Roaring Thirties: Brutally Honest Career Talk From Women Who Beat The Youth Trap by Denise Restauri. Once you take ownership for your own learning, you will start to discover strengths and opportunities you didn’t know existed.
4. Learn from others’ mistakes
They say wisdom is to not to simply learn from you own mistakes, but to learn from the mistakes of others and this is certainly true in the working world. If you can learn from experts in your field then you will certainly find ways to get ahead of the game in terms of career and knowledge so create a shortlist of people you can be mentored by or get advice from to advance your professional progress. I have often found other people from other organisations similar to mine happy to share their mistakes and challenges, as well as their solutions. This has helped me to reflect on my own work and use the best practices often fast-tracking my own knowledge and work.
5. Develop a wide network
In my professional network, there are a number of people I can get advice from on things like my CV, or applying for an exciting opportunity abroad. I have met all of these people at professional events and they have helped me to develop a wide network of people I can rely on to help me or direct me to someone when I need any advice.
Stay in touch
I usually follow up immediately with people who I have met at an event or in a meeting. This gesture shows them that you are keen to stay in touch, while adding them on social media means that you can see what career-related opportunities they may share. Having a wide network also means that you can gradually build a support network of people who may know of other excellent job opportunities (if you ever need an exit strategy plan!).
6. Always think ahead
I am often surprised by the sisters I meet (both graduates and professionals) who have not really thought about the next steps for their professional goals. It is essential that no matter what area of work you are in you think ahead, as progression is key to being a productive Muslimah. Some of us may be in jobs which we have been in for a while, but did you know most HR advisors recommend moving on from a job every three years? This can ensure you are exposed to different working environments.
So often, sisters I meet complain that they are stuck in a job which does not suit their needs. To these sisters, I advise that you think about what you can do next with your skills, pray istikhara and then go for it! Apply the tips above in your working life, and hopefully this will allow you to find an opportunity to get into the industry and area of work you are keen to get into.
I hope the above advice and tips will boost your productivity at work and help fast track success in your career. We’d love to hear your thoughts and get more awesome tips that have worked for you, so share below!