I’m currently reading Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, and I have to confess that sometimes it sounds like she’s reading my thoughts, and in my head.  Honestly, it’s a bit scary.  I’ll be posting on some of her advice here, and commenting on it.  The first piece of advice goes to women looking for a new job, or considering a job change. Apply anyway.

One statistic that Sheryl cites is that men will apply to a position when they match 60% of the requirements of a position, while women will typically only apply for a position when they match 100% of the requirements.  I get not wanting to apply for a position that you’re unqualified for.  Frankly, when I’m screening resumes, it’s annoying to have to wade through the ones that are absolutely not a match for the job description.  But, realistically, almost none of the applicants I come across are a 100% match for the job requirements we’ve posted.  Most are much closer to that 60% mark.  What I really care about as a hiring manager is how well someone’s background fits in with our team, how well they fit into the team, and how quickly they’ll pick up new skills.  Note that’s not about matching 100% of the requirements.

So, if men are already in the vast majority in my industry, and they are the ones applying for jobs more often, it actually becomes quite difficult to even FIND female candidates, because many times they just aren’t applying.  The women just hold simple jobs while in school, rather than picking up those high powered internships which lead to full time jobs.  They worry it might create too much stress.   They might not be qualified for the position, and they might not get the position.

In reality, we are looking for a variety of different candidates, and it’s disappointing to get all candidates who are the same.  Diversity on a team, leads to better performance, and more view points.  It makes sense from a business sense.  But we can’t hire what we can’t find.  If women don’t apply, they never get the positions.

What I’d like to see is more women applying for the positions.  Of course, I’d also like to see more women in technology related majors in general, but that’s a whole other can of worms.

So, please apply- if you are a 60% match, apply for that position, and reach for it!  You can be considered for it, if you don’t ask!