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Chat transcript: Properly running the rat race

It’s all about competing for your career life these days.

But figuring out how to compete in the workplace in order to climb the ladder of success can be a difficult proposition. You don’t want to come off as overly combative or end up labeled the workplace egomaniac.

The key is finding a balance, advised Allison Linn, one of our economics reporters who recently wrote about escalating workplace competitiveness during tough economic times. She was on hand to answer questions from readers Wednesday about the topic during a live web chat.

“One reason the workplace is so competitive these days is because there are simply more people than jobs,” she said. “That creates a situation where you have to stand out, even if you aren't naturally the type who wants to do that, because you want to hold on to your job.”

To that end, she continued, be measured in your approach.

“Our career experts recommended that you stand out by doing signature work that gets noticed, and taking on tough projects that the top bosses are most interested in,” she noted. “The point is to impress your bosses by showing a willingness to do the tough jobs, rather than just bragging about your work.”

Often certain groups in the workplace feel they have a disadvantage, especially women.

One reader wrote: "If you’re a woman and not part of the good 'ol boy network -- you're screwed. The men protect the men below them who they play golf with."

Linn said this is a common concern.

“Some of the experts we spoke we for our story today mentioned that women also are less likely to tout their own work -- they'll say ‘we did this’ instead of ‘I did this,’ or they'll take on the worker bee project instead of advocating for the leadership position,” she said. “As unnatural as it may feel, women do need to advocate for themselves at work. And, as we noted earlier, stand out for doing good, signature work. One way to do that is to volunteer for a tough project or one that is really important to the bosses.”

Here’s a full transcript of the chat:


Join us next Wednesday for another live web chat about money and careers.

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