Pauline W. Hoffmann, Ph.D.

Professor, Entrepreneur, Advocate, Writer

“I don’t meet all of the qualifications for the job so I better not apply,” said no man ever.

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[The title of this post is not entirely true, but it got your attention, I bet.]

I have had several conversations recently with women who lament that other women don’t extend themselves. What do I mean?  Ask yourself, when you see a job posting for a position you know you can do have you ever read the description and said, “I can do this job in my sleep.”  Have you then continued to read the bulleted requirements and said “oh, I meet that one and that one, but not that one, or that one.”

And then thought, well, I don’t meet all the requirements so I better not apply?


It is not likely that you are going to meet every single piece of the job description and so what?  I have never heard a man second guess himself in this way.  We need to know that we can do that job and sell that in our cover letters and resumes/CVs.  We need to own our skills, talents and experiences and use that.  We need to understand that we can break rules and we should court failure rather than fear it.

We need to have more confidence.

According to the Harvard Business Review, women, more than men will not apply for a job unless they are 100% qualified.  The reasoning?  Women are taught to follow rules and we believe job descriptions are rules – what is asked for is what is absolutely required, no questions asked.

It is also suggested that women’s failures are remembered longer than men’s.  Perhaps, but I sometimes think that not trying is a certain kind of failure.  You’ve failed yourself.

I often tell students that you have to put yourself out there.  The worst that will happen is you don’t get the job.  You will never get the job if you don’t apply for it.  If I waited until I was 100% qualified for a job, I wouldn’t have had one to begin with.  I wasn’t 100% qualified for the position I’m in right now and I’ve worked very hard in the position to prove that I can do it.

When we do that, it also helps.  When you have several women willing to extend themselves like that, it makes it better for those who come after.  If the perception is that women’s failures are remembered longer, what about our successes?  I think that they are remembered and bode well for all women.

Set an example, be confident, know your abilities, sell them.

And don’t be afraid to fail.


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