You’re browsing a job website looking for a new career, and bam! You see it. Your dream job is right there, almost within your grasp.
You eagerly click on the job description, your heart pounding in your chest. As the screen loads, you can already imagine yourself swaggering into the office on your first day of work, climbing the ladder, bringing home a fat new paycheck…and then your eyes scroll through the job requirements.
It’s asking for an advanced degree that you don’t have and ten years of experience in a field you’ve only been working in for five. With a heavy heart you click off the screen and continue your search. (Check out our Top Ten Signs that it’s Time for a Career Change.)
Does this scenario sound a little too familiar? If so, then you might be your own worst enemy when it comes to getting a bigger and better job. A report from Hewlett Packard found that men typically apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the job qualifications, while women are most likely to apply only when they meet 100% of the requirements. That’s a big difference, and it may be one reason why the executive suite tends to be dominated by men.
Simply put, they’re more likely to go for the job that may be a little out of reach, while women play it safe.
Why Women Hold Back
This statistic may imply that women lack confidence in themselves compared to men. Writing in the Harvard Business Review, Tara Sophia Mohr, a women’s leadership coach, suggests something a little different at play in the psyche of women. Mohr surveyed over a thousand male and female professionals, and she found that that the top three reasons why women didn’t apply for a job were:
- I didn’t think they would hire me since I didn’t meet the qualifications and I didn’t want to waste my time and energy. – 40.6%
- I didn’t think they would hire me since I didn’t meet the qualifications and I didn’t want to put myself out there if I was likely to fail. – 21.6%
- I was following the guidelines about who should apply. – 15%
What’s most notable about Mohr’s results is that only 12.7% of men agreed with reason two and only 8.5% of men agreed with reason three. Mohr concludes that women don’t necessarily lack confidence, but that they may be more afraid to fail than their male counterparts.
She also points that that women may be more inclined to see job requirements as strict rules that they must follow while men see them more as suggestions. (Going back to work? Start fresh…and smart!)
Why You Should Apply for That Job
In writing about Mohr’s theories, Kerry Hannon, a contributor to Forbes, asked her male friends why they feel confident in applying for a job even if they don’t meet all of the requirements. One friend responded, “If I really thought I could do the job and wanted it, why would I quibble over semantics? I look at the ‘required’ qualifications on any job posting as suggestions or a guideline and I know if I can get in the door for an interview, I can sell my ability to do the job without having every box checked.”
Women can learn a lot from this perspective when they are in the job market. Rather than immediately disqualifying yourself for a job if you don’t meet every requirement, instead consider whether you can overcome the deficits with the skill set you have.
When you view job requirements as a listing for an “ideal candidate” it will make it easier for you to put yourself forward. After all, just keep in mind that a guy on the other end of town with only 60% of the job requirements is still going to apply for that position, and he may get it too, if you let him!
Getting a new job is a great way to increase your income and your quality of life. Want even more great advice on how to invite more success into your life? Check out our article archive for Savvy Women or start a Money Club.