Professional Women's Report: Definition of Career Success Is Changing

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Today marks the release of the fourth annual Today's Professional Woman Report, a national survey conducted by Citi and LinkedIn exploring issues affecting women's careers and financial concerns. Drawing on the more than 1,000 professional and inspired by discussions on Connect: Professional Women's Network, the survey's findings indicate a range of shifting feelings in the workplace.

For instance, the results suggest that the definition of success may be changing, as most professional women expect to reach their career peak at age 53 (men, meanwhile, expect to hit it at 55). However, success may not necessarily equate to happiness: most of the professionals who participated in the study believed the happiest point in their career was several years behind them.

"The survey illustrates that career satisfaction and success are not just end goals--they're both moving targets," said Linda Descano, the President and CEO or Women & Co. "While the age at which professionals believe they will peak varies by generation, most expect the high point of their career to occur within the next several years. Yet at the same time, they believe that the happiest moment of their careers occurred several years in the past, suggesting that peak satisfaction does not necessarily mean the height of career success."

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While success goes arm in arm with the idea of progress, that's also something that people interpret in a variety of ways. Twenty-one percent of those surveyed defined it as "finding a job that allows them to pursue their passion, while 19 percent sought "a more flexible work environment." Salary increases and promotions to executive leadership positions were both significant indicators of progress for 17 percent of those surveyed.

The idea that success is defined as reaching the top of your field has also been traded for the warmer, more accessible notion that what matters most is finding a job where you enjoy the work you do, in an environment where you are respected. Only 12 percent said they equated "having it all" with reaching the top of their professional food chain, as opposed to the 17 percent who felt that way in 2012.

"It's interesting to see that despite all the talk about "having it all," the study shows that the number of women who actually equate it with success is declining," said Jacky Carter, LinkedIn Community Manager for Connect: Professional Women's Network. "As we've seen from discussions in the Connect group, there's no standard definition of success, and career progress can be defined in a variety of ways -- from following your passions to earning a promotion."

Click here for more detailed survey results.
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