Why women don’t apply for jobs unless they’re 100% qualified

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You’ve probably heard the following statistic:


.“Men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them.”


An interesting article in HBRAscend by Tara Sophia Mohr, based on a Hewlett Packard report, gives insights in other aspects than above why women don’t apply.

As it is usually invoked as evidence that women need more confidence and “Men are confident about their ability at 60%, but women don’t feel confident until they’ve checked off each item on the list.” with the advice: women need to have more faith in themselves, there is another side to it.

Sophia Mohr: “I was skeptical, because the times had decided not to apply for a job because I didn’t meet all the qualifications, faith myself wasn’t exactly the issue. I suspected I wasn’t alone.”

She surveyed over a thousand men and women, and asked them, “If you decided not to apply for a job because you didn’t meet all the qualifications, why didn’t you apply?”

The barrier to applying was not lack of confidence. In fact, for both men and women, “I didn’t think I could do the job well” was the least common of all the responses. Only about 10% of women and 12% of men indicated that this was their top reason for not applying.

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Men and women also gave the same most common reason for not applying women and men indicated: “I didn’t think they would hire me since I didn’t meet the qualifications, and I didn’t want to waste my time and energy.”

In other words, people who weren’t applying believed they needed the qualifications not to do the job well, but to be hired in the first place. They thought that the required qualifications were…well, required qualifications. They didn’t see the hiring process as one where advocacy, relationships, or a creative approach to framing one’s expertise could overcome not having the skills and experiences outlined in the job qualifications.


“I didn’t think they would hire me since I didn’t meet the qualifications and I didn’t want to put myself out there if I was likely to fail”



These findings mean women don’t need to try and find that elusive quality, “confidence,” they just need better information about how hiring processes really work.

A wake-up call for women who have not been applying for jobs because they believe the stated qualifications must be met. Know that others are giving it a shot even when they don’t meet the job criteria, feel free to do the same!.

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And a wake-up call for Recruiters:

These findings also mean that Recruiters need to rethink how to specify the qualifications needed for a job.  Select on f

Recruiters, make sure that the right people show interest and apply, people with the potential to do the job or are capable to quickly grow into that job.

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