Ladies, Stop Taking Yourself Out of the Game!

This is old news, but it’s worth discussing again:

Women… applied for a promotion only when they believed they met 100 percent of the qualifications listed for the job. Men were happy to apply when they thought they could meet 60 percent of the job requirements.

As a recruiter, I’ve seen first-hand the difference in how men and women apply for jobs. Application mismatches are common. I’ve seen total lack of understanding for the open position (erm, Social Media Marketing is more than just using your personal Twitter). I’ve also seen reaching applications – the job requires A through F, but the resume only has A through D. If even.

Here’s the thing, though: even if it’s not a perfect match, if there’s clear potential, they’ll still get a call. And if not, I’ll usually earmark the application for a future opening if they seem like they could add value in another role.

But the sad truth is that the clear majority of these reaching applications come from men. Which means, ladies, men are confidently stepping into jobs that they may not be perfectly prepared for, and (hopefully) picking the rest up as they go.

We are competitive, smart, and damn good at what we do, so why aren’t we reaching, too? So, in the interest of getting that reach-job, here’s what I suggest:

Tailor Your Resume

I’ve mentioned before the importance of tailoring your application for the job you’re looking for, but this is even more important when you’re going for a reach. A recruiter may not instantly understand why you’re applying for this two-steps-up role, so don’t leave anything to chance.

Don’t have E and F? Highlight A through D at the very top of your resume, and consider listing certifications that are in-progress (clearly labeled).

Bridge the Gap

Just because you don’t have that Google Analytics certification doesn’t mean you can’t get it now. It makes a huge impression when a candidate shows initiative and the ability to teach themselves something that directly lends itself to the position. You’re basically able to set yourself apart in three huge ways:

  1. Boom, you’ll have that necessary skill well before you start
  2. You show that you’re able to see problem spots and jump on them
  3. You show that you’re willing to invest your time in the company, and yourself

To a hiring manager who probably doesn’t want to have to hold someone’s hand through processes long-term, this makes you a god damn unicorn.

Be Forthcoming

You could hope that nobody mentions the elephant in the room, but even if that works for the first round, it won’t be long before someone brings it up. So why not break the ice yourself?

While I wouldn’t go on and on about why it’s not a perfect match, I would be honest about the missing pieces — and immediately share how you’re working to fix them. Focus on what you’re doing to build yourself up, and what you bring to the table. Not only does it clear the air on your own terms, but it tells your interviewer that you’re self-aware and proactive.


Even if we have that 60%, we can – and should – be competitive with our job search. That reach could mean the next big thing for your career! So, go get that job!

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2 thoughts on “Ladies, Stop Taking Yourself Out of the Game!

  1. I know a few recruiters and I’m sure you would agree, finding a candidate for a job that has 100% of the qualifications happens very infrequently. Unless they have been in the industry for a long time or worked their prior, it isn’t going to happen. The best you can do is have base knowledge and be willing and able to learn quickly on the job to fill in the gaps. It comes down to sink or swim in a new job. In the probationary period, one must hit the ground running and prove their worth and they deserve to be in that role. Anyone can do this even if they have 0% of the skills to start. Some people just get caught up in the uncertainty factor while they should have more confidence in themselves to be successful in a job.

    • This is exactly right – you’re never going to be the exact match, able to seamlessly take on the role. That sink-or-swim element is crucial. I hope to see more women reaching upwards, and stop shying away from it because they don’t think it’s a perfect match.

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