LinkedIn’s “Gender Insights Report” will help to create a defining moment in women’s careers. The professional setting, along with its volume of employment-related interactions, makes it a groundbreaking study which should go viral. Below are my takeaways from LinkedIn’s report, which I have combined with key info from Hewlett Packard’s landmark study and Harvard Business Review’s seminal findings. Together these data form a more complete set of green-light indicators that will enable you to understand foundations and realize ongoing benefits in your career.
As women continue to make employment progress, more information is beginning to surface which unravels how they effectively manage their careers. LinkedIn deployed big data to research the differences between how women and men search and apply for jobs. It also wanted to identify if these activities culminated in offers of employment. The net results show more women were hired than anyone expected.
According to LinkedIn, the largest professional networking site, “The good news is that when women do apply to a job, they are 16% more likely than men to get hired. In fact, if the role is more senior than their current position, that number goes up to 18%.” LinkedIn’s comprehensive report “…analyzed billions of interactions between professionals, companies, and recruiters.”
Although women get more job offers, LinkedIn also found that, “Women apply to 20% fewer jobs than men.” Because of this, LinkedIn encourages women to apply for more jobs. Makes sense. However, it’s not that easy and they know it. There are reasons which prevent women from applying for jobs in the first place.
Hewlett Packard published what has become gospel spoken in employment circles for many years. HP’s main research finding shows that women feel they need to meet 100 percent of the job qualifications while men usually apply for jobs after covering 60 percent of its requirements. So, women apply when they believe they meet 100 percent of the job criteria that is advertised. LinkedIn uses their landmark study and attributes the “lack of confidence” among women as one of the reasons they don’t apply for more jobs. However, as it turns out, a lack of confidence does not in and of itself prevent women from applying to more jobs. In order to target problems and offer repeatable solutions, it helps to identify these other reasons. We can do so using a third study.
This one was conducted by Harvard Business Review. HBR found that confidence was not a primary factor related to applying for jobs among women. HBR cites other root causes underlying confidence, which are often categorized as women “lacking in confidence.” According to how I interpret these data, women need to work on two areas of improvement when applying for jobs to benefit their careers. One area is filling the void of information on how the job application and selection process actually works. The other area women need to work on is perfection, which is acted out in accordance with how women follow all of the rules, strictly “by the book.”
According to HBR’s study, “78% of women’s reasons for not applying, have to do with believing that the job qualifications are real requirements, and seeing the hiring process as more by-the-book and true to paper guidelines than it really is.” Because of this they follow rules too strictly, and rely too heavily on their education, training and credentials. All of this comes at the expense of building more professional relationships, which is how 80 percent of candidates find jobs today. LinkedIn echoes a similar critique as Harvard Business Review citing women as “…more hesitant to ask for a referral from somebody they know at the company.”
As for a better understanding of the hiring process, women need to separate real from ideal. I have learned from other recruiters and hiring managers that employers advertise for ideal candidates, but hire real ones. Employer organizations want to find and hire the ideal candidate. In reality, there are no ideal candidates. However, this fact does not prevent employers from advertising and hoping for the ideal. Given its implications on your career, it is important to understand the following:
– Ideal is not perfect.
– There is a difference between ideal and real.
– No one candidate will ever check all of the required boxes listed as job requirements.
– No one candidate will ever be 100% qualified.
When more women understand the hiring process and accept imperfections, and submit job applications even if they don’t meet each and every qualification criteria listed, they will apply for more jobs. When they do, they will receive more job offers from more employers. Women applying for more jobs is an actionable step, and simple solution, to help corporate performance through gender diversity.