“Do you consider a job in Finance?’’, I asked a female friend. ‘’No. I do not qualify’’, she immediately responded. Shocked? Well… This lack of confidence happens to many other women. The theory of ‘confidence gap’ holds that women feel less self-assured in their own abilities than men. Indeed, it is shocking how many women we meet within our community, who still struggle with their confidence during their job search.

 As shown above, it is important to acknowledge this issue and to shift from fear to freedom. It is time to break the glass ceiling! Scared? No worries! Female x Finance got your back. In the next couple of weeks, we will walk you through every step of the job search journey to secure a career in finance. But first, let’s identify those barriers that are holding us back from a kick-ass career. This edition seeks to identify the three major barriers that apply for a woman, and it will focus on the effects provoked by these causes. Only together we are able to break these confidence barriers!

Why women don’t apply

At first, a moment of realization! The findings are clear: women only apply for a job when they are 100% qualified, and men will apply when they are only 60% qualified. Where does that come from?

Based on a survey, Women’s Leadership coach Tara Sophie Mohr established the three barriers in the Harvard Business Review (HBR). 

Firstly, people tend to believe that a hiring process is mainly about required qualifications. Yet it is more than that, because the process of hiring is interdisciplinary. Your grades don’t define you! You are more than that.

Secondly, most of the women are following guidelines. They’ve been socialized to follow certain rules. Think about it. For instance, girls in high school tend to score higher grades and boys demand more attention in the classroom. A second example: compare the content of your etui with one of your male friends (if they even have one). It is time to colour outside the lines with all your pastel markers and cut some corners! 

Last but not least… Most of the females ascribe failure to internal conditions in comparison to a male. Consequently? The fear of failure is too high in comparison to the probability of getting the job. But, what is the worst that could happen? You are not going to die.

Do you recognize this issue personally? We do and you are not alone! So, we conducted a small survey in our community.

Our findings:

  • More than 85% of the women didn’t apply for a job, because they didn’t meet all the qualifications
  • The primary reason is they think that they would probably have been rejected anyway
  • The above average grades and previous internships/ work experience are the most scary
  • 20% of the respondents replied using words as “Excellent” and “Above average” withhold them from applying

The consequence? Women often don’t apply as they seem to be following the guidelines they are accustomed to.

“Women only apply for a job when they are 100% confident they meet all the requirements, and men will apply with 60% of the requirements.”

Who is to blame? Both.

On one hand, women should be more confident when applying. Don’t meet 100% of the requirements? No worries. It is just a guideline. Our tip: If you think you are the right person for the job, just apply!

On the other hand, companies should be aware that in order to attract more female employees they should be rethinking their job descriptions and recruitment marketing. Our tip: Skip words like “Excellent” “Above average” and focus on the question “What are we really looking for?”. Of course everyone wants to hire the top students, but do they really need to meet the list of 20 requirements? Of course not.

So… Let’s draw a conclusion here! An acute lack of confidence has many causes. Most of the women have a mistaken perception and think a hiring process is a by-the-book guidelines process. Furthermore, girls are strongly socialized and attribute a failure to internal conditions. This could result in an acute lack of confidence.

Therefore, I believe that it is crucial to bring this problem to light. My advice, as the Dutch would put it: “a no you have, a yes you can get”. Moreover, if you don’t meet all the requirements, you should connect an employee through LinkedIn and ask whether the specific requirement is a must. Is the answer no? Then you should apply for the position and just go for it! Award yourself with more confidence. You deserve it!

–  Dave van der Heiden

Next week, I will help you put together a CV and cover letter! A first impression is paramount, so a résumé and cover letter are the prime marketing tool. A quick sidenote: you don’t need to meet all the requirements! For instance, you could apply in finance with a technological background.