Lack of career planning hurts professional women
Career planning is something professional women must do, NOW!
If I received a notional Euro (or any other currency) for every woman who contacted me in varying levels of emotional distress about their careers, it would provide a pretty nice revenue stream. The queries cover the whole range issues on the transition spectrum: career gaps, skill set deficits, feeling stuck, underpaid and unappreciated, financial worries following divorce, widowhood, or facing retirement or redundancy.
The consistent underlying theme whether the women are responding to a specific crisis or a general feeling of malaise and discontent is a lack of a career plan or strategy and forward planning to their transition processes. This can be attributed to minimal personal insight and simply having no goals at all, or a failure to communicate those goals to their employers or even their partners.
What is a major differentiator with men in the same situation? They want to vent rather than to step back and invest in creating a practical career strategy (whether time, energy or professional support) which is hurting them long-term.
3Plus recently carried out a research project in the international MBA community with Megan Jones, to identify skill set deficits which act as barriers to women's career advancement. These women should be at the very top of the business academic pyramid, but in fact, the preliminary results reinforced our anecdotal observations. Interestingly as you can see in the graphic below, both men and women identified the two main barriers to career success for professional women to be:
- Negotiation skills
- Career strategy and planning.
Men placed career planning and strategy in top place and women placed it second. So although women MBA graduates can tell you everything anyone needs to know about corporate capital budgeting and valuation and not forgetting business strategy, seemingly they are not perceived to be applying those learned elements to themselves and their own careers.
Additional research indicated that only 16% of women had a clear to mid-term plan compared to 83% of their male colleagues.
In recent research on work-life balance, published in the Harvard Business Review, Boris Groysberg and Robin Abrahams identified some intriguing gender differences about how men and women view professional success. Women they said "place more value than men do on individual achievement, having passion for their work, receiving respect, and making a difference, but less value on organizational achievement and ongoing learning and development".
A UK newspaper tells us what women spend on make-up in a lifetime and a recent chart by Goldman Sachs shows us how much women of different age groups spend on clothes every year. Women in their twenties and thirties spend more on clothes, peaking at 45-year-to spend as a group $750 billion annually. Do these women collectively invest that much in their professional development - I suspect not.
Life and balance without work can come back to bite us
Dilbert quips "The secret to having a work-life balance is to have no life." but balance without work can leave women exposed in changing times, as many find to their detriment the exact long-term cost of complacency and a lack of strategy.
Cornelia is in her mid 40s. She has a degree from an US Ivy League school, and was a high-flying marketing specialist for a fortune 500 company. She took a parenting gap to raise her two children and thought she might return to work when the boys were "older." In the meantime her marriage of 15 years has ended in divorce. She finds herself in difficult financial circumstances, trying to get back into the job market with a ten-year gap in a field which has been revolutionised by technology. "I am kicking myself for my naivety" she told me. "I thought marriage was forever and I would be able to pick up my career, perhaps not where I left off, but somewhere close. I was very wrong. I have now gone back to school to learn about social media and all the developments that have taken place in my field. I am getting into significant debt and will have to sell the house to cover all my costs. My ex husband has been made redundant and the only support I get is for the children. It nowhere near covers my outgoings. In his court case he said I made a personal life-style choice to give up my job and raise our children personally."
Sonia a lawyer, left the workforce to follow her husband's international corporate career and raise their daughter who has an acute learning difficulty. Her husband is now seriously ill and has taken early retirement. She is anxious to return to work. The only jobs she is even interviewed for are low paid and for others she is simply over qualified. "I'm completely stuck" she said "and I'm not sure what the solution is."
It was therefore refreshing to work with Maria from the seventh month of her pregnancy onwards to create a career strategy to ensure a smooth transition during and following her maternity leave. Taking a leaf out of Marissa Meyer's book she wants to position herself for a promotion on her return to work. This requires some additional study which she will fit around the new baby's schedule. Maria has a P.L.A.N. (Purpose, Learn, Articulate and Name.) We sat down and created short and medium term goals with a specific strategy to achieve those goals.
In an era where we are all urged to become the CEO of Me, women who do not identify their goals, and draw up a strategy to meet them, can find themselves vulnerable and unprepared further down the line.
So do you want to be prepared? Contact 3Plus for a complimentary Skype call to assess your career needs.
Found that interesting?
Learn more about our services
Make your dreams a reality with a professional evaluation of your career to date.
The evidence is in. More women in your company can deliver 35% greater financial returns. (Catalyst)
Dates for the Diary
JUNE 16 TH 2020 - HOW TO MANAGE REMOTE TEAMS MORE INCLUSIVELY
Corporate Online Lockdown Learning Event - European Patent Office .
Download and listen free podcasts
How to Create an Effective USP What is a USP? Our Unique Selling Point or UVP (Unique Value Proposition) is our key core message about where...read more
How to Rethink the Modern Workplace for Gender Equality New research shows that diversity and inclusion is a top priority for leaders. So why...read more
Menopause in the workplace In this podcast with Nicki Williams award winning author, keynote speaker and Founder of Happy Hormones for Life,...read more
How to Cultivate Empathy in the Workplace Nancy Milton, international business communications expert, keynote speaker and author, share some vital...read more
Taking Care of your COW Tanvi Guatam, international Personal Branding expert says there is a misconception out there that a personal brand is...read more
The importance of Hard Talk Dawn Metcalfe, author of Managing the Matrix and Hard Talk, shares with us tips to achieve the lasting communication...read more
When Does Female Rivalry Turn into Sabotage There’s a lot of stuff written on social media about female rivalry and competition between women. Some...read more
Goal setting tips to boost your career The happiest people are those that really love their jobs. Those that don’t, dread Sunday nights and...read more
Sexism: How to stage a Bystander Intervention in the Workplace In this power coaching podcast, we're going to tackle one of the questions...read more
How to Get Noticed by Head Hunters & Recruiters In this power coaching podcast, we're going to tackle one of the questions asked multiple...read more
Gender bias in networking has long existed, but with these 3 tips you can put an end to it and instead create a more inclusive space for everyone.read more
The minute your image pops up on someone screens people are looking for clues about your personality, your credibility and your competence. A strong online leadership presence is vital.read more
Daily habits to create boundaries during lockdown are vital for a number of important reasons especially to navigate work life balance during confinement. We have to find a way to make that critical separation from our working and professional selves from our other roles for our physical and mental well being.read more