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How Career Counseling Helps Women Advance Their Careers

© 2021 Richard Chandler, MA, LPC, Masters in Psychotherapy, Licensed Professional Counselor

Almost all working women want to advance their careers, but what sets successful women apart? Often, the key to career advancement can be as simple as a well-laid plan. But first, it's crucial to know what type of work capitalizes on your strengths and minimizes your weaknesses.

At the same time, it's critical to have a career that allows you to enjoy a healthy work-life balance. More often than not, women wind up juggling full-time jobs with household responsibilities, unfairly taking on more than their fair share of household duties and the mental work of planning for their partners and children.

Woman CEO Business Owner standing outside in Golden Valley, MN

Sometimes the key to balancing work and life is prioritizing your goals. Do you want to earn more money? Or maybe you want to transition to a role that is more meaningful to you.

Clients often seek me out at my practice in Central Minnesota for guidance in choosing a new career. Exploring career coaching can make a big difference in your quality of life. Many of my clients come away from counseling with a greater sense of purpose and confidence.

Woman working in a building in downtown Minneapolis, MN

There are several ways career coaching can help you achieve your personal and financial goals. You'll need to identify the obstacles you face and develop strategies to overcome them. Additionally, tools like The Strong Interest Inventory® or Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® can be excellent ways to recognize your strengths and find careers that will fit them.

In my virtual counseling sessions, we'll explore your career opportunities and design a strategy for success.

Be Strategic About Your Career Goals

There are a few factors to consider when you're looking to develop your career. First, you'll want to be aware of the roadblocks women face in the workplace. Even though gender biases are working against you, they won't necessarily hinder your success. But it's vital to be aware of these issues so you can incorporate workarounds into your strategy.

According to the INC, men and women behave differently around career progression. Understanding these gender differences may help you identify potential barriers and opportunities to your professional achievement.

 

A woman talking on the phone scheduling a career therapy session in Eden Prairie, MN

Strategies Women Can Use to Advance Their Careers:

(Data provided by INC)

  • Ask for a Higher Starting Salary: Women don't often negotiate high enough starting salaries. According to a study from Carnegie Melon, over half of the male participants tried to negotiate for higher wages compared to only 7% of females.
  • Ask for a Raise: Women are less likely to ask for a raise than men. According to Accenture, only 45% of women ask for a raise, compared to 61% of men. Researchers estimate that not asking for a raise could cost a woman $1.5 million by the end of her career.
  • Be Confident in Your Skills: It might not be a surprise to know that men are more confident about their performance than women, even when they are underprepared. So don't be afraid to improvise when you're not 100% prepared for something. After all, research shows that your male competition is most likely winging it anyways.
  • Find a Mentor or Two: It is well worth your time to seek high-level mentors. Finding both men and women mentors can help you expand your opportunities.
  • Be Direct About What You Want or Need: In 2005, a Catalyst study found that women were not as effective at delegating tasks as men. The study determined that women were not as clear or authoritative in their communication.
  • Take Risks: Men take more substantial risks in applying for jobs. According to Hewlett-Packard, men apply for jobs that they're 60% qualified for, but most women only apply to positions when they're 100% eligible.

Although men surpass women in many of these areas, women bring other advantages to the table. For example, women are more likely to take on new challenges and opportunities compared to men.

Women are also extremely hard workers, outstanding team players, highly supportive, compassionate, intuitive, and persuasive. All of these qualities make women excellent leaders. The moral of the story is, ask for that promotion!

Women Wrongly Internalize Their Mistakes

Studies show that women have a stronger aversion to rejection and avoid conflict more than men do. For this reason, it can be more challenging for women to ask for a raise or promotion. A study from Northumbria University in England found that while women generally internalize their mistakes, men externalize. After making a mistake, women are more likely to see it as a negative reflection of themselves. In contrast, men direct their negative feelings outwards onto others in the form of anger or blame.

I have worked with clients who internalize their mistakes to such a degree that it significantly impacts their confidence. As a consequence, they are less likely to ask for a higher salary or promotion.

Woman discussing work in Plymouth, MN

Rosina Racioppi from Forbes says that three of the most considerable obstacles women need to overcome to advance in their career include:

  1. Working strategically to figure out how to make an organizational impact versus just working hard.
  2. Building career-building relationships like getting a mentor.
  3. Seeking out, versus waiting for, career opportunities.

If you're looking to advance your career, it may take some mental judo to overcome these statistics. The good news is, identifying the problem is often the most challenging part. If you recognize any of these characteristics in yourself, working with a career counselor would be worthwhile.

Use Myers-Briggs® and Strong® Assessments to Find Your New Career Path

Some of the most useful tools I use with my career counseling clients are the Myers-Briggs® and Strong® personality tests. These tools are state-of-the-art assessments that will help you better understand your personality. Based on your results, we will identify career opportunities that complement your unique strengths, skills, and preferences.

The Strong Interest Inventory®

The Strong Interest Inventory® assessment will reveal your best type and style of work. It will also show how you compare to others in many different fields. Additionally, this assessment can help with more than your work life. I find that it can be very beneficial for couples to interpret their Strong Interest Inventory® results together. This exercise is a great way to gain a better understanding of one another. For many of my clients, this activity can do a lot to strengthen their romantic bond.

Psychological personality assessments can be very beneficial for my college-aged clients as well. Often, it's useful for parents to join us in this session to interpret the results. There is no extra fee for bringing your parents, partner, or other support into a consultation session.

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Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®

Like The Strong Interest Inventory® assessment, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® is a personality test that measures your needs, preferences, and interaction style. This tool is a great way to delve into how you prefer to interact with others and how others prefer to interact with you.

Understanding how the people around you prefer to interact can help you communicate more effectively. When I use the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® with my clients, misunderstandings and communication frustrations become much less frequent in their personal and professional lives.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® can also help you make better decisions by taking productivity and communication preferences into account. As a Myers-Briggs® Master Practitioner, I can tell you with certainty that understanding yourself and others' psychological needs will immensely boost your career advancement.

Work With a Career Counselor to Advance Your Career

A career counselor can guide you to career paths that maximize your talents and meet your goals. In my experience, women seeking career counseling can feel apprehensive about the process.

I help clients find fulfilling careers through detailed career guidance exploration. Once we have identified opportunities or barriers to success, we can then plot a strategic course of action.

A woman standing outside her workplace in Minneapolis, MN

What Is Career Counseling Like and How Can It Help?

It's normal to feel a little nervous heading into your first session. But there are a few things you can do to prepare ahead of time. I've had a few clients ask me how they can prepare for their counseling sessions. Here's what I like to tell them:

"Richard provided sound advice and actionable tasks that helped guide me in my career. He presents a professional and thoughtful approach to counseling. I would highly recommend Richard for career counseling."

-Google Business Review

A woman on her laptop in St. Paul, MN

How to Prepare for Career Counseling:

  • Reflect on your experiences with school, hobbies, and work—what did you enjoy or dislike?
  • Ask friends, family, and coworkers for feedback on how you work—what do you do well? Are there areas you could improve?
  • Make a list of any careers you're interested in—what do you like about these jobs?

What to Expect During Your Career Counseling Sessions:

  • The first session: Your initial career counseling session aims to review where you are in your career and how you got there. We'll take a look at all the work you've done as well as what you might want to do in the future. I'll ask you about what you liked and disliked about each job.

We'll also talk about your hobbies and any career interests you might have. This initial meeting will help me get to know you and understand your career path up to this point. It also gives me a good idea of where you want to go.

  • The Second Session: During your second session, you will take the Myers-Briggs® Step II and Strong Interest Inventory® personality tests. The Myers-Briggs® test is very comprehensive and will give you detailed insights into your psychological personality type. Your personality type will help us identify which types of work best suit you.

Likewise, the Strong Interest Inventory® test will tell us which jobs best suit your personality out of over 100 possible occupations. I use your work history to inform my interpretation of your Myers-Briggs® and the Strong Interest Inventory® results. But it's important to note that these test results can improve your personal life as well.

  • The Third Session: This may be your final session, depending on your progress. In this session, we will plan your career strategy. If you are looking for a career change, this is the session in which we will focus on identifying potential jobs. Whether you're transitioning to a new field or enhancing your current skill set, we'll look at the dollar costs of continued education and retraining. We'll also look at the practicality of the market, including job availability and expected salary.

Advancing your career is possible with a well-thought-out plan. Working with a career counselor can give you insight into your workplace strengths and weaknesses. This information can help you successfully transition to a new career or develop your current one. If you are experiencing a work-life imbalance or feel like your current role isn't playing to your strengths, it is worth talking to a counselor.

There are strategies you can use to increase your sense of fulfillment in your career. Finding a job that compliments your psychological personality type will help you achieve a better quality of life. But knowing the obstacles you face is half the battle. Join me for virtual career counseling sessions to identify your best career opportunities and build a strategy to achieve your personal and financial goals.

Woman focusing on work in her office in Eden Prairie, MN

"I have a great experience with Richard. I feel much more focused and refreshed! His consulting definitely helped me put my business idea into action and get started with my own business!"

-Google Business Review