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Xcede recently sponsored a fantastic boutique event called 10 Digital Ladies. This particular event explored issues within recruitment in the digital space. One topic that really stood out for us was the issue surrounding job specifications and organisations seeking a "unicorn" employee.
Currently, only 17% of the digital workforce are women - that includes women in tech, marketing and analytical positions. The question is, are there underlining issues within some recruitment processes?
The event led us to discuss whether job specifications written directly by companies can be interpreted differently to what they originally intended. Some argued that particular job specifications are unwittingly targeted towards males while others are written as a "shopping list" and expect every technical and soft skill under the sun.
It was discussed that in general men tend to look more specifically at three key things, the job title, the salary and the company. If these three boxes are applicable to them, they will apply for the position. In contrast, women tend to take a more analytical approach, assessing the job specification in more detail, checking the main body and cross-referencing their skills to the specification. However, when women delve deeper they come across phrases such as "looking for a superstar analyst" or "someone who is an innovative and creative person who thinks outside the box". Most of the women at this event agreed that they followed that exact same process when applying for jobs online and as a result were more likely to think twice before applying.
So, what happens if you genuinely believe that you aren't that "superstar" analyst who can derive insight from the data to the level they require? Or maybe you aren’t that "innovative" person who they want to analyse data, interpret the findings and then present that back to senior stakeholders in a creative presentation.
Maybe you believe that you aren't that perfect "all-rounder" that they are looking for.
Do these ambiguous job specifications that we read everyday actually put the right people off applying for the role? A European Marketing Director from a global recruitment firm at the event stated that she believes job specifications are causing women to lack confidence in their abilities and contributing to the gender divide in the workplace. Some women at the event specifically stated that if a job specification includes buzz words like "superstar", then they would be less inclined to apply for that particular job.
The problem comes down to this, do “superstars” actually know or believe they are superstars? Does the best analyst know they are the best? Is the classification of “best”, the person who thinks they are “the best” or is it the person who is always striving to be “the best”?
As an industry we must become better with job specifications and ensuring we do not exclude candidates with awkwardly worded and frankly unrealistic descriptions. Giving women, men, introverts and extroverts equal opportunities in the work place is crucial and we can all start by ensuring the language in our job descriptions caters for all.