I haven't gotten a raise in a few years. What am I doing wrong?
"At minimum, it's typical for employers to provide a raise each year in line with inflation, sometimes called a 'cost of living' increase. While it's important that your manager and employer take an active interest in your career growth, it's also your responsibility to advocate for yourself. Make sure you clearly communicate that you are ready to grow and take on more—but don't forget that promotions rarely happen unless there is a position open for you to move into. Keep an eye out for those, and don't be a wallflower!"
I disagree with my boss on her new marketing strategy. Should I tell her?
"Be careful with this one. First, you need to know your audience. Not all bosses respond well to constructive criticism. One way to let her know without being too explicit is to suggest alternatives. Ultimately, however, your boss is tasked with making decisions regardless of whether they're right, and she probably has more context than you do about those choices. There's always the chance you have it wrong, also, so be humble, stay curious, and keep your chin up. The beauty is in the process and often less in what ugly new slogan your boss thinks is amazing."
Shit—I was 20 minutes late for a big meeting. How do I recover?
"I am a serial procrastinator, so this one hits close to home. Being late once in a while is bound to happen, but when it becomes a pattern, people will stop taking you seriously. How to recover? Show up on time next time. And then again, and again, and again. If you are late, take a moment to consult with a colleague to catch up on what you missed, and make sure your boss knows that you acknowledge your error—don't act like no one noticed."
My boss says I should dress more professionally at work. I'm really good at what I do—who cares what I wear?
"At the end of the day, your boss is your boss, so don't waste time thinking you're the exception to the rule. Dressing professionally can be boring, but it's the standard for good reason: It allows you and those you work with to focus on the task at hand rather than on someone's cleavage, belly button, or ripped jeans. I raged hard against almost every social code but now find myself valuing all sorts of conventional, boring-ass things. Honestly, who you are should be able to shine no matter what you are wearing, so find all the ways you can express yourself and don't forget: There's always flair!"
Need some work advice? Ask the GirlBoss on Twitter @marieclaire (#GIRLBOSS), or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article appears in the October issue of Marie Claire, on newsstands now.