Women won’t apply for roles even if they’re short of one requirement of the job spec!
You get an email alert about a new role coming up in up in your company and it’s your dream job. You open the email and start reading it through, ticking off the requirements that you know you have; a knowledge of excel – tick, experience managing teams – tick, at least five years experience in a similar role – no, you don’t have this – you only have three. So what do you do? Do you sigh and close the tab and think “maybe next time” or do you reason, “I have three years experience – that’s practically 5!” and apply anyway?
If you answered the first option then you’re probably a woman. When faced with a job description, multiple studies have found that women will not apply for the job if they believe themselves to be short of even one out of 10 of the requirements. Compare that however to men, who will go for the vacancy even if they meet only 60% of the attributes listed. I can personally attest to this as I have a husband who prides himself on being successful in winning roles that listed degrees as essential when the only degree he has is from the school of hard knocks.
But why is this? Are we more honest as a gender? Possibly more risk averse and worried that our failings will be our undoing? Probably but we really need to stop and think about what the actual point of these job descriptions are. Job specifications are often an idealistic overview of the role where recruiters want applicants to get as close as possible to meet these requirements. If they wanted 100% perfection, then a high proportion of jobs would be unfillable! Who are these people who have 15 years experience in app builds when apps haven’t been around 15 years!?
Of course businesses and the powerful men within them have a responsibility to do everything they can to close the gender pay gap but come on ladies, we must meet them in the middle. We must have the confidence to go for the top roles, the jobs we know we would be great at despite the fact we don’t meet all the criteria.
I am known as the impact guru and confidence expert who helps women leaders in FTSE 100 firms. I believe that with enough confidence, you can convince an interview panel you are the person for the job by concentrating on what you can do, not what you can’t do! No one is 100% perfect and you don’t have to be. If there’s a fit there’s a fit.
Applying is the first step to getting your toe in the door and a subsequent interview invite is getting your foot in the door. You can then use the interview to crash through that door and show exactly why you can tackle any shortcomings with ease and that your skill value outweighs any challenges that you might face in that role.
So let’s all put our big girl pants on and now when we see a job description that we don’t completely meet the brief of, let’s apply anyway because as we’ve been told for years – “we’re worth it”.
By Esther Stanhope