We asked two of our female Partners, both very successful management consultants...
I have two pieces of advice for the young women starting their careers.
Firstly, make a career plan. Having been a headhunter and mentor for over 20 years, my experience has showed that having written down your expectations and dreams for your work life is of great benefit. A study from Harvard University also confirms this observation. The study was conducted in their MBA class where 3% had a written career plan, 13% had a mental career plan and 84% had no career plan. 10 years after finishing their MBA the 13% had performed twice as well as the 84% and the 3% were making 10 times as much the remaining 97% annually.
Secondly, ensure that you have a good balance between work, studies and your private life. I see many young women who have focused solely on their studies for many years, and then find it very hard to find a job afterwards. Having solely focused on their studies and good grades for so long has unfortunately made them narrowminded, and workplaces today are looking more and more for educated and interesting people with a certain degree of charisma. If you have spent all your time behind your desk, it does not give you that charisma. Prioritizing your hobbies, drinking wine with your friends and travelling, while also studying, makes you a more interesting person for your future workplace – and it also gives you a great start to creating your own network.
Being a woman today means there is a much wider range of career options. We have young women fighting in our army, in construction - we are politicians and CEOs of global companies – there is no limit. Yet many women are still reluctant to use their voice. Remember: you are hired for a job because of your skills and talents so don’t let these get minimized by not speaking up. Your ideas, contributions and achievements are yours to realize AND to highlight, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. Don’t force conversations or to become arrogant, but take those natural opportunities to talk about the work you’re doing and what you’ve achieved.
I think one of the best pieces of career advice for women is to develop a strong personal brand which together with a strong reputation can put you on the radar for exciting career opportunities.
Finally, if you're asked to do something that excites you, but that you aren't sure you're completely ready for, always say yes – you'll figure out the "how" later. The more confident and competent you appear, the more you'll be able to build confidence in your abilities in others.
Always have the confidence to try new things, or even take a lateral move to get a new perspective. Believe in yourself.