As millions of Americans had lost their jobs due to the pandemic, being on a job campaign is a challenging and competitive space. Today I bring a different outlook with the intention to shade some light around the topic of gender from the angle of being a female job applicant.
Understanding these differences is key not only for you as a job seeker, but also for recruiters who influence directly the process and employers who want to build more inclusive recruitment practices and workforces.
Based on my observations as a career coach, I have noticed that when it’s time to make an inventory of strengths and achievements, men tend to go right into it without hesitation. In contrast, more women than not, tend to struggle to identify their unique talents and tally their career accomplishments. I frequently hear: ‘This is difficult for me, I don’t want to create the impression that I’m bragging about myself’.
The reality is that recruiters and hiring managers are exploring fit. They value more candidates who can clearly articulate their strengths confidently and can connect the dots between what they bring of value, the solutions they can provide, and the problems they can resolve for their prospective employers.
Sally Helgesen, a women’s leadership expert, addresses this tendency in her book How Women Rise. Using some of her words, “If you as a woman, struggle to claim credit for your achievements, it may cost you”. In the context of a job search, it might cost you not landing your ideal role.
Sally points out that recruiters already notice that men are more assertive when it comes to articulating their achievements and strengths. If you are a woman reading these lines knowing that you also struggle in this area, the good news is that you can unpack this tendency and overcome it.
I’m sharing four-pointers to guide you toward promoting your skills, talents, and gifts effectively:
1) Identify and release your self-limiting beliefs. Realize that it is ok to ‘blow your own horn’. In many contexts, it is desirable to be able to speak about your strengths. This is particularly critical in your job campaign.
2) Own your Achievements. Make an inventory of your strengths, successes, and accomplishments. Quantify the impact and be ready to share a compelling story about what, why, and how you created a positive impact.
3) Practice articulating your successes and accomplishments. Write down statements that you can use during your networking activities, and during interviews. Practice telling your stories, even if it is in front of the mirror.
4) Dare to Aspire to Better Career Opportunities, even when you might think that you don’t fit 100% of the job requirements. There is a balance between hard and soft skills and you might excel in those behaviors that are key to success. Don’t shy away from upward mobility by settling it for less believing that you are not fully qualified.
Creating and confidently articulating a compelling branding are two critical factors to you landing your ideal job or making the career change that is best for you.
As Sally Helgesen encourages in her book “How Women Rise”, It’s possible to overcome your reluctance to claim your achievements. Be willing to notice and value your strengths, contributions, and talents. Create a branding statement that speaks about the unique you, your talents, contributions, and values. You are a positive difference-maker who has so much to offer. If you notice it, others will!
While there are gender differences in approaching a job search, knowledge is power. Use it to your advantage to create a vision for the job and career move that you desire and deserve.