Why you need a Career Strategy

by Sep 7, 2023

You need a Career Strategy

Some women prefer to leave career planning to chance and don’t pay attention much beyond what they are doing currently. Here’s why you need a career strategy


Research from 3Plus in 2014 and again in 2020 showed that women don’t create career strategies in the same way that their male colleagues do. In 2020 the figures were 50% (women) to 85% (men.) This was already an improvement on the 2014 results which showed a scant 5% (women) to 85% (men)

Research from Textio suggests that  83% of men “understand what’s required to earn their next promotion—in contrast to only 71% of women.”  This can come from not getting the right type of actionable feedback. But part of the problem is not understanding what those next steps are, which means that women don’t ask the right questions to get the best feedback.Sometimes they don’t even share their ambitions with their partners.

This leaves women at a serious disadvantage and the risk of their careers going down the hell and hand basket route.


8 reasons why you need a career strategy


you need a career strategy

Many women prefer to leave career planning to chance. They plan weddings, baby showers, and vacations in the minutest detail, but somehow don’t pay their careers the same level of attention. Suggestions to change this course of non-action are met with same the enthusiasm I might see if I had suggested auditing tax returns or a discussion on haemorrhoids.

But here’s why you need a career strategy.

1. Clarity and Direction

Developing a career strategy helps you gain clarity about your long-term goals and the direction you want to take in your professional life. It enables you to define your vision and set specific objectives, providing a clear road map for your career progression.  This should be in line with your wider vision and sense of purpose, otherwise it becomes a fuzzy, nice-to-have wish list.

2. Your goals are aligned

A career strategy helps align your career goals with your personal interests, and skills. It allows you to focus on pursuing opportunities that are in line with your goals, values, and vision. It is also particularly important that your personal and professional goals are aligned so you are consciously taking a holistic approach to career planning. If you don’t find that vital equilibrium, then the resulting imbalance will impact your overall sense of satisfaction possibly causing physical and mental health issues.

3. Fosters focus

With a career strategy in place, you become more focused and proactive, rather than reactive in managing your career. Instead of merely responding to immediate circumstances, you take charge of your professional development and make intentional decisions to shape your career path.  When you have a career strategy in place you are able to better manage your time and energy. You will have clearer boundaries and you are less likely to be sidetracked by people or projects that don’t serve you well.

This is a gender trap and one of the reasons women get sucked into “office housework” also known as “non-promotable work” which has no connection to the KPIs i your role.


4. Targeted decision making

There is a quote from Lewis Carroll “if you don’t know where you are headed then any direction will get you there.” A well-defined career strategy serves as a compass for any decisions you take. It provides a framework to evaluate opportunities, assess any potential risks, and make fully informed choices about job transitions, skill development, or further education.

Although sometimes you have to take the “right now” job rather than the “right job” it simply means that your strategy has to be readjusted. It minimises the likelihood of you taking impulsive decisions driven by short-term factors.

5. Personal Development Plan

A career strategy encourages a growth mindset where you can make a personal development plan. You have identified any skills you need to acquire or hone, and knowledge, or experiences you need to gain achieve your career goals. You can proactively seek out specific opportunities for growth, including training courses, stretch assignments, secondments, or even new qualifications.

6. Increased Opportunities

A strategic approach to your career expands your range of opportunities especially when you share your ambitions clearly with your network. When you proactively build relationships with connections, either mentors or sponsors, they can advocate for you and refer you for opportunities you may not know anything about.

They can vouch for your experience and expertise, sending more opportunities for advancement, promotions, and exciting projects your way.  A network referral is four times more likely to be hired than a stand-alone application. As referral systems tend to favour white men –  it’s important that women raise their profiles.

In my post Is it time to Rename the Hidden Job Market, I discovered that  “Research from Jobvite say that almost 50% of their participants hear about job openings from friends, while 37% say the hear about them through professional networks.  (See chart below) So although job seekers may apply for a job through a job board or a career site  – they hear about it from other sources.”

7. Handle change and setbacks

A career strategy helps you build resilience in the face of uncertainty and navigate unexpected shifts in the job market, industry trends, or technological advancements. With a growth mindset, you can identify alternative paths, pivot when necessary, and stay ahead of the curve. It just means you need a Plan B.

8. Long-term Career Satisfaction

Ultimately, a career strategy promotes long-term career satisfaction. By aligning your work with your values, continuously developing your skills, and pursuing meaningful opportunities, you are more likely to experience a sense of purpose and fulfillment in both your professional life.


Not the plan itself

Although the reasons you need a career strategy are compelling, remember that your career plan is not set in stone. It is a tool and a means to an end. The plan is not the plan.  It’s important to stay flexible and if you need to adjust your sails to get where you need to be, then this is what you have to do.

Circumstances change, heaven forbid you may change and it’s important to understand that sometimes the route has to change too. It’s not a big deal if you keep the end in sight.

Don’t have a career strategy? Please help us in our research and participate in this poll.


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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