I am a huge fan of the Washington Post produced “The Lily”.

I get their newsletters delivered to my inbox. But when I got their post titled “I job hunted like a man – this is what happened.” I read it. I read it again and then stood up at my computer and…

In the over 14 years I have been working in HR I noticed a pattern. The higher the position I was hiring for the fewer number of female applicants I had. In fact in general I got WAY fewer female applicants for most corporate posts.

I chalked this up to industry – but wait I was hiring for multiple industries

Then I tried to tell myself it was how I was writing the job posting – ok – so I took an unconscious bias course – in case I was….biased towards men? (ok that may have been the most useless thing I have done with my time – but more on that later)

Then I read a study – Men apply for jobs when they meet 60 percent of the qualifications. Women tend to only apply for jobs if they meet 100 percent of the qualifications.

Now – let me tell you what an HR person/company/hiring person says when they get an application for a position where you meet 100% of the qualifications. (These are the EXACT reasons I have heard over and over again)

  1. Wow they look great but they have already done this job – why do they want the same job again?
  2. Not ambitious
  3. They will leave in 6 months because they will get bored

Now I know what you are feeling –


When we write job postings we are looking for a combination of skills. We would like you to have some great skills. We would like you to be able to grow in some new skills. We put everything we want in that job description so we attract people with different strengths.

But here is the kicker – men seem to understand that. The male applicants I get go from having 30% to 100% of the skills. There are guys out there who seem to say – well I think I could give it a shot and send in a resume.

And well – I have even hired some of them. Why? Because NOBODY ELSE APPLIED and they seemed eager and hardworking and did a great interview.

As a career coach I work with women – specifically moms (www.careerlove.ca) who often undervalue themselves and apply for fewer jobs and ONLY the ones that they meet 100% of the hiring qualifications. They do not get called in for interviews and the spiral continues.

Here is what I ask these women to do! Here is what I want YOU to do!

  1. Print out the job you are looking to apply to.
  2. Black out or rip off the job title (this way you won’t have the conversation – Me? A Director?)
  3. Get out your highlighter and highlight all the parts of the job description that you have done, are doing and have experience with
  4. If that paper is MORE than 80% yellow – DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME
  5. Start again – now looking at more senior roles
  6. Keep doing this over and over again

This is just one step. Working as a coach for moms I help people through issues like imposter syndrome, finding work they love and how to negotiate higher salaries – but each success starts with one step forward. Maybe try taking this step?