The Secret to Job Hunting Like a Man

Job Search Gender Gap: Do women have a seat at the table? Find out why even exceptional and capable women hold themselves back and how women can outclass men at their own game… Photo credit: Freepik stock image.

Research shows that men and women take different approaches to get ahead in their careers. A study conducted by LinkedIn examined job search behaviour and found that men are more likely to apply for higher positions, also known as ‘stretch roles’. Although women apply less for such positions, they are more likely to be hired. 

Data from a report by Hewlett Packard revealed that women applied to jobs only if they were 100% qualified, while men applied if they were only 60% qualified. This statistic shows that men and women play the game differently. 

A popular argument to justify this data is that women have less confidence than men, spurring countless self-help books and articles to help women become more confident. In actuality, the situation is far more nuanced in the modern world of work. 

A survey by Tara Mohr in Harvard Business Review uncovered multiple reasons as to why men and women decided not to apply for a job. Mohr found that less than 10% of female respondents had a lack of confidence as their main reason for not applying. A higher percentage of men (12,4%) didn’t apply due to a lack of confidence.   

The survey showed that the majority of respondents from both genders did not apply because they didn’t want to waste time and energy. Two interesting findings showed a higher percentage of women didn’t apply because they were following the guidelines about who should apply or they didn’t want to put themselves out there if they were likely to fail. 

This study showed that a ‘confidence gap’ is a minor contributing factor and suggests women are taking a more strategic approach than men who are more opportunistic and less averse to taking risks. The term job ‘requirement’ can sometimes be taken too literally and intimidates women from applying for a position they may well get hired for. 

“What held them back from applying was not a mistaken perception about themselves, but a mistaken perception about the hiring process,” says Mohr. She continues, ‘‘women don’t need to try and find that elusive quality, “confidence,” they just need better information about how hiring processes really work.’’

Qualifying for a job doesn’t mean you must meet 100% of the requirements. As more women know that others have given it a shot despite not being qualified for the job, they feel more motivated to do the same.

What if more women applied for stretch opportunities?

Senior Content Design Manager for Meta (formerly Facebook) Jody Allard, shared her experience of job hunting like a man. While searching, Allard applied for each job she was interested in if she met at least 70 to 80% of the requirements. Instead of taking a position that offered flexibility and a supportive work environment, Allard chose a job with the most valuable title and role. She showed no fear in facing the masculine work culture associated with senior roles and just went for it. 

Another female figure from Meta, Chief Operating Officer of Meta, Sheryl Sandberg, says ‘‘Women need to shift from thinking ‘I’m not ready to do that’ to thinking ‘I want to do that– and I’ll learn by doing it.’’

Jobhunting is just one of many examples where the disparity between men and women is attributed to a lack of confidence. Negotiating salary expectations and self-advocacy are two other occasions where women are less likely to speak up than their male counterparts. 

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Reading recommendations: 

Playing Big: Find Your Voice, Your Mission by Tara Mohr

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman 

Fearless Job Hunting: Powerful Psychological Strategies for Getting the Job You Want by William Knaus

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