In my book “Confident Career Woman: Ditch Perfection, Play Bigger and Make PowHer Moves”, I share the following in PowHer Principle #11- No Goals, No Greatness:

Professional women feel stuck yet they are still failing to plan for their career. 80% of my surveyed clients do NOT have a career strategy.

It’s easy to say “Well, if women aren’t planning, they need to start” but not without addressing the factors that contribute to why we pursue career advancement in the absence of leveraging a plan to manage our careers. Those factors include:

  • Environmental influences meaning lessons women learned growing up. Would you believe 86% of women surveyed by KPMG were taught to be nice to others while only 44% were taught to be a leader? 77% of women were taught to be helpful while 34% were taught to share their point of view. Statistically speaking, we are more than capable of not only leading and managing our career, but our environment and society has taught us in some instances that we should be nice, we should care for others and oh yeah, don’t forget we should help others sometimes while sacrificing ourselves in the process.
  • Institutional mindsets embedded in discrimination and gender stereotypes including “Think manager, think male” or “Men take charge and women take care.” Women are seen as too hard, too soft, not right and not ready. Women face an ongoing battle daily in workplaces around the world repeatedly attempting to prove they can lead while having to work twice as hard as their male counterparts for a fraction of the pay.
  • Individual mindsets which is where the true work is for us as women. We’re self-critical, hard on ourselves and as it relates to managing our careers, we don’t ask for promotions, career path resources/guidance, nor do we ask for salary increases. To properly manage our careers, we simply have to go for it; we must abandon perfectionism, acknowledge the fact that failure isn’t fatal and communicate what we want without expecting others “to know”.

In understanding these factors, one must also understand career planning is merely a component of career management which means you need both to advance your career. Before you can effectively manage your career, you need to first have a plan that includes self-development and action. High performing women are ambitious and assertive, but they are also self-aware.  Prepare answers to the following as you process where you see yourself professionally:

  1. What is the scope of the career you’ve selected?
  2. What are the pros and cons of your career choices?
  3. Can you grow in your field and if so, how?

Once you have a plan in place, you can then leverage your plan and oversee your career by:

  1. Identifying your goals. Your goals can be short-term (specific in nature, one or two-year timeframe, align with your long-term goals), intermediate goals (3-year time frame; broader than short-term goals) and long-term (the broadest and most fluid as we are unaware of unplanned life events, pitfalls, etc. since the goal is extremely futuristic.)
  2. Making wise decisions. This includes investing in your development, capitalizing on strategic relationships and incorporating self-care every step of the way.
  3. Considering “boundaryless careers”. In other words, how can you maintain and enhance your employability by leveraging your skills beyond the confines of your current role, organization and industry?

Managing your career as a woman isn’t impossible, you simply have to be intentional. Begin with the end in mind as you consider your plan, monitor your success and proceed confidently in the direction of your career dreams.

Ericka Spradley, President of My Next Level ensures ambitious professionals and students get hired. As a Career Coach, Adjunct Professor and Author (“30 Min. Career Coach: Interview Basics for High School Students”, “7 Days to Confident Interviews”), she empowers others to take their interviewing skills to the next level so they can ultimately secure employment. Ericka also provides career support/guidance for clients when she’s not working tirelessly to change the career readiness conversation and course curriculum to include interviewing skills. To download your complimentary copy of “5 Simple Strategies to Land Your Ideal Job” click here