Whatever it is you do to afford that daily smoothie habit (and other less important life essentials), we say never stop learning ways to own it. How exactly? We’re so glad you asked…

The sage advice below comes from Lauren McGoodwin, founder and CEO of Career Contessa, a career site built just for women.

Since today is International Women’s Day, we thought it seemed especially fitting to put the Career Contessa platform in the spotlight. As the only professional development site designed to serve women specifically, Career Contessa offers a uniquely streamlined set of career-building tools for women of all walks of life and is dedicated to addressing the issues that effect women most.

We’re excited to host Lauren as our latest monthly contributor and look forward to bringing you good ideas for balanced living like this one throughout the year. Read up, take notes, then go out there and kill the game!

Get a career sponsor

It’s cliché for a reason — it really is about who you know. But the good news is, you’re also in control of that. Make a constant effort to establish, build, and maintain relationships with people that will help you advance in your career by advocating for you, sending you better work assignments, offering insight and critical feedback. Start by finding a sponsor at your current company that has influence or the ability to make decisions that impact you and ask them to a lunch or coffee meeting.

Make your commute more productive

A long commute is a drag, but I’ve learned to make this time work for me by listening to podcasts or books on tape that open me up to new career ideas, people and resources. Currently, I’m reading Own It by Sallie Krewcheck. (TCM Picks: Podcasts)

Update your LinkedIn profile

When your parents told you that a job wouldn’t just land in your lap, they were… wrong. Sort of. 94% of recruiters use LinkedIn to help them source candidates for open roles. Meaning, if you optimize your LinkedIn profile, they’ll come to you with openings.

Find a job you love by trying a new job search strategy

I always tell people that it’s not about finding the right job. The usual approach is to apply for countless positions online and cross your fingers. Instead, try targeting a company first, then work your way into a job there. Because at the end of the day, you want to love your coworkers and day-to-day as much as you want a nice title on your resume. Try this free worksheet to help you figure out your next career move and which companies to focus your time and energy on.

Train for your promotion

Here’s the thing about promotions and raises: They rarely just “happen.” Book a meeting with your boss to ask her what skills or experiences you need to develop to advance. Next, fill that skills gap by taking online classes through a site like Skillshare. For less than a dollar, you can teach yourself everything from public speaking to email marketing to Google Analytics.

Track your progress

Keep a work journal to track your accomplishments, feedback, areas for improvement and new ideas for your job to share with your boss. Much like regular journaling helps put your life in perspective, keeping a work-specific journal will help you keep your big career picture in mind without losing yourself to daily to-do lists.

Learn about confidence — and increase your own

Building your confidence skills are essential to building a career, but we often overlook them because we tend to think that we can’t adjust our personality. The good news is you can develop confidence (even if you’re an introvert!) by practicing daily habits and better understanding what it means to be a confident woman at work.

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