Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, Get the Job! Shop may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
When it comes to applying for jobs, women are missing the mark—big time.
This staggering statistic from Forbes says, “Men are confident about their ability at 60%, but women don’t feel confident until they’ve checked off each item on the list.” That means men go ahead and apply for jobs without having all requirements while women skip the application process altogether. What’s the reason behind such a drastic gap?
The bottom line is men are more confident during their job search than women. While you may not be surprised to hear about the confidence gap, the impact it’s having on the workforce is alarming. It means men continue to get jobs that would have been a better fit for a woman.
But we can’t really blame them. We’re the ones not taking action and deliberately leaving our name out of the hat. Rest assured that it’s not just you. Most working women lack confidence when it comes to their careers. In an article in The Atlantic, journalists Katty Kay and Claire Shipman shared this:
“In two decades of covering American politics as journalists, we realized, we have between us interviewed some of the most influential women in the nation. In our jobs and our lives, we walk among people you would assume brim with confidence. And yet our experience suggests that the power centers of this nation are zones of female self-doubt—that is, when they include women at all.”
So, what’s a woman to do when she thinks she can do a job but doesn’t have the confidence to apply? She builds it.
Get your confidence building journey off on the right foot
Before even looking at job descriptions go through the self-discovery process to figure out what you’re meant to be doing in your life.
If that feels like an overwhelming task, start with some easy journal prompts that will help get your creative juices flowing. Taking a step back and focusing on the things you enjoy—along with the type of work you can’t stand—will allow you to go after the right career rather than just get your next job.
And when you find your purpose, going after it is the easy part. Sure, some silly scaries kick in every once in awhile, but for the most part, you experience feelings of pure excitement during your job search rather than dreading it. Talk about a confidence builder! You’ll find yourself looking forward to the application process and thrilled at the opportunity for an interview because you have total clarity on your direction.
4 more confidence-building job search tips
1. Embrace nice to haves
It’s rare that anyone fits every single requirement on a job description. When women choose not to apply because they don’t believe they’re qualified enough, they unknowingly add to the cycle of men moving up the ladder faster. Until more women view job descriptions as “nice to have” qualifications rather than mandatory they’ll continue to miss out on prime opportunities. It’s critical to remember this piece of career advice.
2. Consider similarities
When you come across a role that gets you excited and you’re not 100% qualified take a look at each requirement and consider something you’ve done that’s similar. For example, if the job description indicates it wants proficiency with a specific project management tool that you’ve never used, put one down that you do know. Software and tools are easy to learn. What’s important is you know why a certain tool is being used and the part it plays in your role (and the overall company). Take a deeper look at each qualification to understand the “why” behind each one.
3. Take written job descriptions with a grain of salt
Employers will put every tangible qualification they can think of on that list in order to attract the best candidates. What they often don’t include are the characteristics of an employee that would be a fit for the role. For example, working moms are problem-solving geniuses, but being a “mom” won’t qualify you for a position according to most written job descriptions.
4. Continue the confidence during negotiations=
Even once you figure out what you’re meant to be doing, apply for a job that fits, and land it, there’s still more to do. It’s time to negotiate a salary you deserve. This is another area where women need to work on building confidence. Even if asked, never tell a new company what your current salary is. It doesn’t matter what you make now, and there are too many factors that have contributed to that number. Maybe your current employer is on the low end of the payscale spectrum or you’ve been at a company for many years without receiving appropriate salary increases. Offering your current salary gives them a lower baseline to start with when it could have been significantly higher. Also, ALWAYS negotiate salary unless an employer tells you there is no wiggle room whatsoever. Nearly all offers will be on the lower end to start.
Building confidence is like anything else in life. The more you work at it the easier it will get. If this is a real struggle for you, especially during your job search, consider getting career advice from a professional. It will be difficult for you to find a job that’s a true fit while lacking confidence.