What Does It Mean to be Qualified?

When it comes to the business world, does it help or hurt to play by the rules? Of course, it’s always best to stay within the bounds of the law and any unseemly transactions. However, when applying for jobs, it may be advantageous to forget about qualifications, requirements and limitations in general. Men are doing it. It’s time for women to jump aboard this rule-breaking train.

This is the statistic to which I’m referring: Men apply for jobs when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women will only apply if they meet 100% of them. Many are now asking — what does it mean to be qualified?

An initial reaction to this statistic (presented in a Hewlett Packard internal report) may be something like: Women need to have more confidence. Their self-doubt is holding them back. However, data collected by author and female leadership coach Tara Sophia Mohr tells a different story.

After conducting a survey that included both male and female professionals, Mohr could conclude that self-confidence was not at the forefront of women’s hesitation to apply for certain jobs. It wasn’t that women didn’t think they could adequately perform the job duties. Rather, women feared they wouldn’t get hired in the first place.

Why waste time and risk failing on an application with no hope? That’s not a lack of confidence, that’s lack of knowledge regarding the hiring process. Listen up, ladies: you don’t always need to check every box in order to get the job. Sell your relevant skills in your resume, cover letter and any correspondence you share with the potential employer. It’s working for men and it can most certainly work for you, too.

Confidence may to be blame for another thing, though. Women are not applying to positions with seemingly male language in the job descriptions. The Technische Universität München (TUM) conducted a study with 260 participants – the subjects were read employment postings for managerial positions. The study found that women were turned off by words like “assertive,” “independent,” “aggressive” and “analytical.” These words were perceived as masculine, and the women dubbed these jobs less appealing as a result. On the contrary, women were attracted to the words “dedicated,” “responsible,” “conscientious” and “sociable.”

Do women not perceive themselves as “qualified” for positions that are described with “masculine” language? Do they lack confidence, fearing they won’t be able to shine in the job? It’s certainly possible. Studies, like one released in 2011 by Europe’s Institute of Leadership and Management, share that women have lower self-assurance and higher self-doubt at work.

Why is this? It’s about time we all get our confidence levels in check with all that we’ve accomplished. Here are some things that women can do to raise the bar in their careers:

  • Take credit for your successes. Don’t be overly modest. If you’re responsible for something great happening at work, publicly tag your name to it.
  • Reach for greater things. Don’t be scared to ask for the promotion or apply for a new position. Fearing failure is not an adequate excuse to pass on a decent opportunity. Men don’t fear failure. You shouldn’t either.
  • Embrace a chance to stand out. Hiding from the spotlight could lead to your being overlooked in the future. Soak up the attention if it’s positive and warranted.
  • Speak up. Voice your input in meetings. Don’t be shamed into silence. Be confident.

The next time you go to apply for a job, don’t let the “qualifications” scare you away. If you think you’ll like the job, and you think you can do it well, why do you need 10 years of experience? You’ll miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, so come on, ladies! Start shooting for success today.

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