More and more now, employers are being educated about the importance of inclusivity in hiring practices with the likes of gender-neutral job descriptions and proper data compliance surrounding protected characteristics. However some of these meaningful changes can take time and it’s equally important for women to be empowered with the knowledge of their natural strengths and perceived weaknesses.
On International Women’s Day 2022, we wanted to pull together a few tips for women looking for work right now. Some points aren’t applicable to all female workers, and certainly some are relevant for men too, but from a statistics perspective the research we’ve used shows that as a woman it’s likely you could benefit from the advice below.
1. Be Confident in Your Abilities
First on the list because it’s definitely one of the most important points — own what you can do! There’s a widely-shared statistic (attributed to a Hewlett-Packard internal report) that suggests men apply for a job when they meet 60% of the qualifications, and women will only apply if they meet 100% of them. Of course that’s a generalisation, but the premise is still widely understood.
More often than not, the job advert in front of you will overreach. It will have lists of bullet points, paragraphs of descriptions, and when it comes to ‘Expectations' or ‘Requirements' the laundry list is daunting. If you know when reading that list that you excel at what you do, don’t be put off from submitting your application — even if you don’t meet 100% or even 80% of their requirements. Always consider the potential in the role for you and your career.
2. Don’t Undersell Yourself
Alongside confidence in what you can bring to the table, be prepared to talk proudly about your strengths. According to a study in the National Bureau of Economic Research, even when aware that the score they gave themselves would impact their recruitment/salary, women consistently self-promoted less than men. In fact, on average the women studied scored themselves 46/100 versus 61/100 for men.
In essence, try not to worry about how you might be perceived by sharing your successes. Do your best to avoid being too humble, or focusing on areas you might feel need improvement, and instead reframe to focus on what you did well. This is especially relevant in quarterly/annual reviews or introductory hiring interviews.
3. Be Aware of Gendered Language
Gendered language is one that people simply need to be mindful of, rather than taking any particular action. Here’s what we mean by that…
In 2011, a series of studies published in the Journal of Personality & Social Psychology by Gaucher, Friesen & Kay, found that use of words typically identified as “masculine” perpetuated gender-inequality in male-dominated fields. In fact, they found that gendered language didn’t just deter women from applying for those particular positions, but that it actually reinforced people’s perceptions of the types of people who might be suitable for the role.
Put another way, they found that masculine-coded language typically made women feel as though they wouldn’t be welcome, but feminine-coded language did not make men feel the same way. Their studies identified words such as assertive, confident, competitive, independent and outspoken as masculine, and words like considerate, cooperative, honest, responsive and supportive as feminine.
Encouraging awareness around this bias in language can help hugely in changing the way job opportunities are advertised, and knowing this can also help prevent you from being deterred from applying for a role advertised with masculine bias.
4. Show Your Female Traits
Similar to the first point, but different because now we’re talking about what skills you can offer because of your experience as a woman. Try to bring up these unique traits — not with the view to competing with male candidates, but simply bringing your unique professional added-value and your personal characteristics.
Highlight what makes you stand out in your application, checking the values of the brand that you’re applying for and considering how you align with them. For example, you might feel as though you’re at a disadvantage because you’re a mother — whereas in reality what that really means is that you’re highly experienced in multitasking, high-pressure situations, effective communication, and organisation. Another might be that where you might once have been considered more emotional, you’re actually highly empathetic — a valuable attribute in any sector connecting with people.
We encourage women not to hide their professional traits but to bring them up because so much of the time we are the superwomen!
5. Know Flexibility Isn’t A Sacrifice
Finally, a thought around flexibility — something that has become a much higher priority for everybody over the last couple of years. In our 2022 Talent Insights Report, we found that women valued flexible work arrangements over career advancement and interesting & varied work.
You should know that you don’t have to compromise between any of these however, as each is valued so highly now. Asking for flexibility in a new contract, or negotiating it in an existing one — for whatever reason — shouldn’t come with sacrificing progression or compensation.
No matter your gender, Aquent can help find you the perfect role. Check out our latest roles at https://aquent.com.au/find-work/.
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