3 career conversations all women should have

by Dec 29, 2020

The 3 career conversations for any time

One of the major projects 3Plus undertook in 2020 was research into how women approach their careers. What we discovered was that although over 90% of Millennial women set career goals only 50% create a career strategy. In real terms this means that although these women might have a vision of how they want their careers to progress, they are not making concrete plans to ensure that this happens. Although we saw an improvement on 2014 research into the same topic, these numbers suggest there is still a long way to go.

Read full research: Barriers young women face in the workplace

It’s important that women have 3 career conversations to kick start their career strategy

1.  Conversation with yourself

Most women are other centred and tend to focus their energy and attention on other people. In terms of priorities they frequently put their own needs last, especially if they have to factor in the requirements of partners and children. It  is important that you take time to reflect on some key core questions:

  • What are your goals, values and vision?  Decide what is important to you. This allows you to create a larger framework for making plans, but also guides you to where your boundaries are going to be.
  •  What are your strengths and development needs. Do you know which of your skills need honing or acquiring. In a time of fast paced changed anyone who doesn’t make a continuous learning plan for every stage of their lives will get left behind. Heather McGowan suggested that  a lifelong learning habit is the pension of the future.
  • Identify and showcase your career success stories. You should do this even if you are not an active job seeker. This will allow you to present your best professional self to the world.

Download the 3Plus Career Reflections Worksheets to get you started!

2.  Conversation with your partner

Most couples don’t have a joint career strategy. What tends to happen that a man will have an idea of a linear career progression which will quite frequently be unspoken and women will adapt themselves around that. This was never more apparent than during lockdown down where women took on 31 hours of housework and childcare per week compared to 9.75 of their male partners. Women dropped out of the workforce at alarming rates overwhelmed by the demands made upon them.

Here are some stats that show gender differences of the working from home experience.


The conversation with a partner has to cover:

  • What is your joint vision? You would be surprised how many women don’t communicate their ambitions to their partners and don’t factor in discussions about their own career opportunities and how they will impact their lives as a couple.
  • Your ideas on what is important to you as a couple?
  • Do you know and understand each others major concerns?
  • What will you compromise on and which issues are non-negotiable?
  • What are your parenting styles? Are they different and how important is that?

I am a big fan of the idea of a “couple contract” an understanding which includes open discussion on:

  • Goals and vision
  • Responsibilities and priorities
  • Trigger points and how you each deal with stress and conflict
  • Couple time
  • Family time
  • You time
  • Health and fitness
  • Friends and wider family

Listen to this podcast with Ian Dinwiddy on sharing the load .

3. Conversation with your boss

I have worked with women who have not communicated their ambitions to their boss and as a result have been passed over for career opportunities.  Now more than ever you need to discuss the following:

  • How to manage priorities. There are still an astonishing number of managers who have not adapted to the new realities of a global pandemic and are  running their teams on a command and control basis.
  • Communicate your ambition.  It would be especially helpful for them to be your sponsor for future opportunities and they fully understand your own vision for your career.
  • Ask for concrete feedback.  Make sure they give you all the advice you need to establish your career development needs so you can create a plan.

Download: Executive Presence Self-Assessment 

Committing to having 3 career conversations in 2024 will help you get your career onto a more structured path. If you are struggling, don’t waste any more time.

Get in you touch NOW 

Dorothy Dalton Administrator
Dorothy Dalton is CEO of 3Plus International. A specialist in diversity and bias conscious executive search, she supports organizations to achieve business success via gender balance, diversity and inclusion. She is CIPD qualified, and a certified coach and trainer including digital learning.
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