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Careers Advice Diversity and Inclusion

WHEN IT COMES TO APPLYING FOR JOBS, BE MORE MAN

Women need to be more like men. There I said it. I am not talking about moulding ourselves to fit a “man’s world”. I am talking about applying to jobs. Why? Because recent research by Hewlett Packard has shown men are more likely to apply to a job where they meet around 60% of the stated requirements. Women? When we meet close to 100% of stated criteria.

Is anyone really perfect?

100%!!!! So women feel they need to be the perfect match? It has been proven organisations almost never hire someone who fits the original job advert perfectly. So that means men are more likely to be offered a job than women… Because they apply when women don’t – and stand a good chance of being hired.

This throws up all sorts of questions for me! Firstly, Why do females think they “can’t” apply unless they are the perfect match? Secondly, how are women continuing to be treated in society and the workplace that reinforces the belief they wouldn’t be good enough? That they shouldn’t take risks? That they are likely to fail?

My challenge to any woman (and the few men that also feel this way) is this. If you only apply for jobs that are an exact match for your expertise today, how will you grow? Where is the stretch and development for you?

Taking the plunge when applying for Jobs!

It’s all too familiar – you see that job advertised. You’re excited “Yes! This is exactly what I’ve been looking for! I could do all those things!” Then the person requirements. The criteria you don’t have. What next? Ignore and carry on looking, or this time, go for it?!

Let’s forget experience for a moment. Remember many companies hire for culture fit, not just hard skills. According to Forbes Coaching Council, there will be many “requirements” in a job ad that are actually “nice-to-haves”. “How on earth do I show my culture fit in an application?” I hear you cry! The best way? Personal connections.

Steve Cohen on Meyvn Global has said you need to “leverage your network big time when job seeking”. Have conversations with Hiring Managers, Recruiters, people already working for the organisations you are interested in – ideally before applying or immediately after (especially given it is thought (Career Horizons) as many as 70-80% of jobs offered are never actually advertised but offered via personal connections).

Do your research. Look at language used in job descriptions and on websites. Understand the company’s values. Weave in all you can that matches the culture into your CV and cover letter. Maybe even submit a video snippet of you alongside the CV if it feels fitting?

An employer is more likely to overlook one or two of their criteria if you can really convey your strong interest and enthusiasm. Create the impression of; ‘this person doesn’t quite have the skills or level of experience I was looking for, but I really like their passion and willingness to learn’.

“Yeah right!” you may be thinking. Believe me, this is true. Not every single time, but it does happen. I know this because it happens for my Career Coaching clients. Just last week one of them text me to say she had been offered a role as an Assistant Project Manager that she applied for, not meeting all the criteria. The reason they offered her? Her attitude and passion, alongside her transferable skills from the events and hospitality industry.

First Impressions Count!

Does your Cover Letter or approach to interviews involve apologising and highlighting your lack of experience? If so, this is the exact first impression you are giving. Seeds of doubt are planted from the off. All those positive you may eventually get to, aren’t really heard. You need to believe you can to talk like you can!

Whilst I started out saying women need to be more like men, do we? Do women not apply for jobs simply because women we are less confident in our abilities?

Tara Mohr, an expert on women’s leadership, found a major barrier for men and women when applying for a role was not because they thought they couldn’t do the job well. She found people weren’t applying as they believed they needed the qualifications stated, but not to do the job well, but to simply be hired in the first place. They assumed the stated required qualifications were…well, required qualifications. They didn’t see the hiring process as one where advocacy, relationships, or a creative approach to framing expertise could overcome not having the all the skills and experiences outlined in the job qualifications.

What held them back from applying was not mistaken perception about themselves, but a mistaken perception about the hiring process.

What does this tell us? To me this shows women don’t need to try and find that elusive “confidence,” in their ability, but they need better information about how hiring processes work.

In applying for jobs, no Risk equals no Reward.

Maybe this goes to show women are more inclined to believe (on-paper) “rules” about who jobs are for. Concerned more about the cost of applying and the risk of failure. This is understandable when evidence exists that women’s failures are remembered longer (Stanford University) than men’s. So have we landed in a place where that bias leads us to become too afraid of failure? Avoiding situations more than is needed, meaning we don’t reach for our career goals?

There are so many biases women are victims of that are more than likely contributing to caution in applying for jobs:

  • The fact girls are more socialized to follow rules (Tara Mohr found “following the guidelines” of a job spec was a more significant barrier to applying for jobs women than men).
  • Men are often hired or promoted based on potential, where as women for their experience and track record (McKinsey). If women have watched that occur in their workplaces, it makes perfect sense they’d be less likely to apply for a job for which they didn’t meet the qualifications.
  • Certifications and degrees play a different role for women than men. The 20th century saw women break into professional life – but only if they had the right training and accreditations. Qualifications were our ticket in, our way of proving we could do the job. We weren’t part of an old boys club in which gave us the benefit of the doubt. Has this history led to women seeing the workplace as more orderly and meritocratic than it really is?

The upshot I believe is we do, when it comes to applying for jobs, we need to think more like men. Believe less in what appears to be the rules and go for it!

To read more from Rebecca and barriers for professional women that need overcoming, check out her post on Impostor Syndrome – Fix Bias, Not Women!

Categories
Flexible Careers

Glide Back Into Work After A Career Break With Wells Fargo

The returner programme from Wells Fargo to help you Glide back into a finance career, a bank that values its people. 

If you’ve worked in finance but been on a voluntary career break for 2 years or more, let’s be really honest; the prospect of returning to work full-time can feel daunting. 

Then add into the mix the last 18 months haven’t exactly been ‘normal’ for anyone and suddenly the prospect of work becomes nerve-wracking.

While many of us are desperate for a change and new work opportunities, any opportunity would ideally be delivered with kindness and compassion. 

Nobody needs to be chucked straight into the deep end of a new job to see whether they sink or swim, that’s a tactic best retired to the pre-pandemic work history books. 

If finding a ‘compassionate new opportunity’ is resonating with you, then please, please READ ON! 

Find Your Flex are helping American Bank Wells Fargo, spread the word on their amazing Returners Programme, aptly named Glide. 

Wells Fargo are a bank with a genuine people-centric approach towards employees and client’s alike. 

If you’ve got several years finance experience under your belt and want to take part in an 8-week Returner Programme to test the waters with a potential new employer, then this FULLY PAID* internship-style programme, could be exactly the opportunity you’ve been waiting for. 

(*at what your full-time salary would be should you be offered a role after the 8-week virtual programme). 

Wells Fargo are recruiting across their London, Dublin and Düsseldorf offices and this programme gives you a brilliant opportunity to get to know the company and glide into work in the most supported way. 

Here’s our FYF impartial run-down to the Glide programme and Wells Fargo as a prospective employer.

Glide Relaunch Internship 

Starting this September 2021 for 8 weeks, this virtual programme will help anyone who’s been out of the workplace for 2 years or more, due to personal commitments. 

In years gone by, prolonged time away from work was considered a bad thing. 

The opposite is true for this bank. 

They honestly value diverse talent and unique life experiences. 

They understand unconventional pathways can actually contribute to higher levels of success and appreciation in a work setting. How refreshing is that? 

Over the 8-week course, you would be fully supported by a Program Manager (albeit virtually at the moment), who will ensure you have the time you need to update and refresh your skills and undergo any further training that may be required. 

There’s also ample opportunity to network with senior & successful leaders from across the business, who are more than happy to share their expertise and knowledge, providing you with everything you need, should you want to become a future leader yourself, should become the right path for you.  

You’ll also meet the very best of Wells Fargo talent and get time to really interact with them. This will give you an honest feel for the unique values and culture at the heart of the business, from that all-important employee perspective. You’ll also engage with the line of business you’d be considering working a full-time role within, if the fit feels right at the end of those 8 weeks. 

If you want to see some previous candidate experiences from candidates that went through the Glide programme in the U.S last year, take a look at these stories. 

Wells Fargo as a Find Your Flex Employer of Choice? 

As the quest for diversity and inclusion within UK business finally gets the attention it needs, you’ll be reassured to know this bank has passionately believed in the value of diversity & progress, since its inception in 1852. 

Wells Fargo is constantly striving to make their organisation as diverse and representative as possible and aim to foster an inclusive culture within every office. 

While we don’t believe in stereotyping at Find Your Flex, currently the majority of participants on UK Returner schemes are female and there’s no getting away from it yet. 

According to the Office for National Statistics, 1.8 Million UK women (and 0.2 million men) leave paid employment to take care of their family. 

These figures exclude the very small number of mothers or carers who receive small amounts of paid income. 

Given this sobering stat, we felt it was important to highlight the Wells Fargo median gender pay gap of 11.8% in 2020, which was down (at 19.4%) on 2019 figures. 

When you consider the average gender pay gap across the broad spectrum of “finance” is 31%, this is worth celebrating. 

They really do welcome the fresh perspectives that diverse views bring and that’s really important for any employee to know, when making a decision about where to invest your time and next career move. Every voice needs to be valued and heard. 

The Wells Fargo 2017-2020 Diversity and Inclusion strategy collaborated with the EMEA Diversity Council and the UK Women’s Team Member Network (TMN) to increase female equality and their female senior leadership model continues into 2021; this extended role out of the Glide Returner Programme into the UK being a large part of it and they actively encourage female employees across the EMEA countries, to take up mentoring roles. 

Those all-important Employee Benefits? 

Employees get a brilliant selection of benefits which can be personalised to support their health and well-being, retirement, financial security, and work-life needs, including time off to participate in community service activities that are of meaning to them. 

The financial benefits, as you may expect from a bank, are genuinely ‘valuable’. Employees will be impressed with the level of financial security they will be offered. A comfort to know you’d be prepared should life ever throw a curveball at you and your family.  

In terms of annual leave, you get 25 days holiday and they have a Paid Time Off (PTO) purchase programme, allowing staff to buy up to an additional 5 days leave. 

Plus, they have Emergency Back Up Care – if your regular arrangements for dependents aren’t available. Something every parent or carer will find very reassuring to know is there, even if you never need to use it. 

And finally – are they really ‘Flexible’? 

At the moment, all Wells Fargo employees are remote but will be expected to return to the office from October or November in a hybrid model. 

Agreements will be put in place between individuals and their Line Manager. 

Across EMEA they operate according to the Flexible Work Arrangement which refers to a long or short-term arrangement which can modify an individual’s working hours / pattern or location of work in an adhoc, fixed term or permanent basis. 

If you feel Wells Fargo could be the employer for you, apply today:

Wells Fargo – Glide back into the workforce

Categories
Diversity and Inclusion High Profile Returners Lifestyle And Wellbeing Mums Returning To Work Professional Mums Work Journeys

Imposter Syndrome – Fix Bias, Not Women

Imposter Syndrome. We have all heard of it. If you are a high-achieving female you may well think you have it. If you don’t, you will know many others that do.  But, what if Imposter Syndrome isn’t real? What if it is a resulting factor of society and biology combined?

The 66% of women ‘suffering’ with Imposter Syndrome (according to a study by Access Commercial Finance) may be shouting “no, it’s definitely real”. Bare with me…

You can loosely define imposter syndrome as doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud. It disproportionately affects high-achieving people, who find it difficult to accept their accomplishments. Many question whether they’re deserving of accolades.

Where did Imposter Syndrome come from?

Psychologists Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes developed the concept. Originally termed “imposter phenomenon,” in their 1978 founding study. The study focused on 150 high-achieving women. They recorded that “despite outstanding academic and professional accomplishments, women who experience the imposter phenomenon persist in believing that they are really not bright and have fooled anyone who thinks otherwise.”

This study, despite it being based on just 150 participants, spurred decades of development programmes and initiatives. These were all in an effort to address imposter syndrome in women. Many high-profile women have shared they suffer with IS. Examples include – former First Lady Michelle Obama and Tennis champion Serena William. If you want to find out how to “overcome” Imposter Syndrome, a quick Google search shows up more than 5 million results.

What if Women Aren’t The Problem?

What’s less well explored, is why imposter syndrome exists in the first place. The advent came with the study mentioned above in 1978, but what about before then? Did it just not happen? Or has something changed in society or with “sufferers” that has resulted in this pandemic?

A theory I subscribe to is that workplace systems and simple biology may have a lot to answer for. Currently, women are almost blamed for having Imposter Syndrome. They are told they are suffering and need to overcome it. They are ‘diagnosed’ with a condition. So, it must be down to them.

Ruchika Tulshyan and Jodi-Ann Burey explored this further. Their published findings, in a Harvard Business Review article, share “imposter syndrome puts the blame on individuals, without accounting for the historical and cultural contexts that are foundational to how it manifests… Imposter syndrome directs our view toward fixing women at work instead of fixing the places where women work.”

Maybe You Are Just Normal!

Feeling uncomfortable, second-guessing yourself and mild anxiety are all normal. These feelings are more prevalent in women at work. Men of course experience similar feelings. However, men are often selected based on capability rather than history. The opposite is true for women. It stands to reason if you haven’t done a certain thing before suddenly you feel out of your depth. As a man’s potential is validated over time, feelings of doubt are reduced. Add on the fact men are easily able to find role models in the workplace. Mentors who are like them and are less inclined to question their competence. It therefore makes sense that these very normal feelings have a lesser impact and are less likely to be labelled.

Women experience the opposite. We question if we have the credentials we need to achieve. We hear “women often suffer with Imposter Syndrome”. In fact career development programmes aimed at women almost always have a session on “overcoming imposter syndrome”. It can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

When women demonstrate strength, ambition, and resilience, they are often described as “aggressive” or “overly assertive”. The idea of imposter syndrome doesn’t take account of workplace dynamics and suggests women need to deal with the “issue”instead.

Men Are From Mars…

It is a biological fact women are programmed to be more risk averse. They are more likely to be perfectionists. Jessica Baker, a Business Psychologist, says we are wired to not step too far into the unknown – left from when we needed fear to protect us, and our young. Also, there are a disproportionate number of men in leadership roles. This means falsely equating confidence with certain traits that are most often demonstrated by male leaders. We then interpret these traits as competence and leadership. Thus, if we don’t have these certain male dominant traits, we question ourselves, decide we lack confidence and diagnose Imposter Syndrome.

Fixing Bias and Society – Not Women

The “fix women’s imposter syndrome” narrative has persisted, decade after decade. Perhaps instead workplaces should focus on creating a culture for women that addresses bias.

In the mid-1990s Clance, the ‘founder’ of Imposter Syndrome suggested the impostor phenomenon could also be attributed as far back as the way girls are communicated with as children. People would compliment girls on being “pretty” and “chatty”. Whilst “Brave” and “intelligent” used for boys. These concepts can define us. It is therefore easier to put success down to luck or being liked. Not individual success.

All this said, I do not totally dismiss Imposter Syndrome as “a thing”. But, I do wonder if

  • we address healthy, normal self-doubt via supportive work cultures,
  • seeing more women in positions of leadership and
  • not using vague feedback like “you need to better develop your leadership qualities”.

we may be in a better place.

Is Imposter Syndrome is a stand-alone syndrome? Or is it a result of complex societal, biological and workplace factors? Either way, it still affects us.

Then how do we deal with it? Ask yourself “where is the evidence that you are doing a terrible job or making bad decisions?”. The fear is irrational. Your current experience of it is often far worse than the negative outcome you are anticipating.

Rebecca Amin is a Career Coach helping parents, find their paths back to career happiness. Find Rebecca via her website www.rebeccaamincoaching.co.uk; Facebook Page and Facebook Group, Career Happy Mums.

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