Career planning is not easy. Many people do not even know which jobs are available in the workplace and which doors they have access to through their education and training. Especially for women, career and career planning can be difficult. Because apart from their career, they often have a second construction site in their heads: family and children . Career adviser Ragnhild Struss therefore wants to encourage women to approach their careers confidently and purposefully and not be held back by potential problems in reconciling work and family life . For one thing, women are not solely responsible for family planning . On the other hand, for every reality of life, there is a solution that makes you happy, says the expert.
With which problems, wishes and fears do women generally come to your career counseling?
Ragnhild Struss: Especially women tend to underestimate themselves. Often, they are too timid to apply for the jobs they qualify for. Their thinking is often marked by an anticipated “but” . I have the training, but can I really? That’s exactly my job, but can I do it? I would like to, but is that possible?
Timing aspects also play a role here. Many mothers want to take responsibility in the job and earn accordingly . In order to fulfill their family role at the same time, they want part-time models that give them flexibility . Demanding self-confidently is often difficult. Especially when women have taken a long break from education and are afraid of not being able to keep up.
Can you briefly outline the steps of a career counseling? How does a session go?
Ragnhild Struss: The consultation includes a day spent in one-to-one conversations with the client. In order to be unbiased in the consultation , we do not want to know in advance about the career goals of the clients. We approach our interests, goals and desires by applying a number of recognized personal psychological and aptitude diagnostics procedures and dealing in detail with our counterpart in a structured discussion. The personal impression is particularly important in order to be able to classify the results and to grasp the human being. For professional and personal development , we always include values and beliefs. In addition, we perform cognitive tests that show tendencies.
Our goal is:
- Strengthen and expand strengths
- To discover potential and unfold in harmony with the personality
- To develop a completely fulfilling life and career planning
For this we give very specific recommendations, from additional training to vacancies and sports and literature tips.
Do you have the impression that many women lack the overview of their career opportunities?
Ragnhild Struss: What women sometimes lack, as well as men, is the ability to think in ways . Your gaze is not directed inward, not on your own potential, but on the outside of sectors and positions . This approach narrows the field of vision and limits its possibilities. This also applies to the orientation towards people from the private or professional environment who follow similar paths. It’s not about pursuing someone else’s path, but finding one’s own.
Many job seekers tend to use previous experience to build on it . Behind this is a traditional linear or vertical career understanding. A sequence of successive career steps: first trainee, then junior, manager, senior and partner . Job seekers should break away from this and instead think in portfolio careers. This means employment biographies that are not linear, but pursue different strands .
What advice do you give working women to pursue their careers?
Ragnhild Struss: I advise you to become visible. A profile in popular professional networks such as XING and LinkedIn is indispensable in times of digital recruitment. Networking is more important than ever . After all, most jobs today are awarded through contacts. Connecting to headhunters may also be advisable depending on your position. In addition , job seekers should inform all people in their environment about their desire to change and use the contacts that result from it.
In particular, I encourage women to show more courage . They should dare to develop a long-term vision of themselves and to pursue their concrete goals along the way. I find time and again that women do not dare to take certain positions because, for example, they might want to start a family in the next few years. The family wish is absolutely legitimate and understandable. But as long as it is not so far, no hasty conclusions should be drawn . Instead, women should focus on themselves, their motives and opportunities. Self-marketing instead of modesty! Hence my appeal: more courage, less restraint.
What is the role of work-life balance in career planning for women?
Ragnhild Struss: Compatibility plays a very important role – in women significantly more than in men . The number of male executives taking parental leave is still manageable. The focus is on women, whose expectations are often very high. T he resources must be shared after the birth of a child. But what priority do the individual areas get? Family, Career, Self-Development, Partnership – Mothers should free themselves from the pressure to push everything at the same time and to the same extent . To recognize a natural wave motion, relieved.
In your experience, how difficult is it for women to return to work after parental leave?
Ragnhild Struss: How the return to the job takes place depends on various factors , which women perceive individually to different degrees. First, there may be structural difficulties in re-entering. For example, anyone who worked in a management consultancy would not be able to return to their old position after parental leave. The basic conditions of the profession – long working hours, high willingness to travel – make this simply impossible. On the other hand, financial factors have an effect on re-entry . If the woman’s salary just outweighs babysitting costs, many mothers find it difficult to decide to return to a job. In addition, internal factors play a role. In many women, pregnancy and motherhood are associated with a shift in values, which changes the look on the job.
Thank you for the interview, Ms. Struss.