You’ve heard it before: Men apply for a position when they meet 60% of the criteria (or is it only 10%?) while women will only apply if they are 100% qualified.
It’s a research finding that constantly gets brought up at conferences, seminars and panels concerning women in leadership. Often to illustrate a confidence gap between men and women, and therefore to partially explain everything form the gender pay gap to the lack of women on boards.
I’ve written before that I’m not convinced about these figures. While many women share anecdotal stories of not feeling qualified enough for a position, the above ‘60% versus 100%’ idea appears to stem from an internal HP study, quoted in a McKinsey article, later in Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, and later again in the book, The Confidence Code.
Now I’m wondering what it takes to apply, and consequently be seriously considered, for a position when you only meet 60% of the criteria, or even less.
Lies. It takes lies. Just little lies. Peppered in the CV, sprinkled on your LinkedIn profile — some stretching of the truth, here and there.
When employers and recruiters insist on issuing specific and difficult-to-entirely-meet position descriptions, how can the ‘perfect’ candidate really apply and get a look-in? Especially if that candidate is starting out in the industry or profession and/or if they are returning from a long career break, or looking to make massive career change?
Recently, research by YouGov found that 18% of the 9000 job candidates surveyed across the Asia Pacific region have told a lie on their CV, while another 5% said they would “prefer not to say” if they have.
I was actually a little surprised that figure was so low.
I’ve personally uncovered some lies during job interviews, and we’ve all heard some pretty terrible and extreme examples – some big and ridiculous enough to land in the media.
Even elected politicians lie about their qualifications and experience (can you believe it?).
Experience is the most common thing we lie about, according to the YouGov research, with 44% of CV embellishers reportedly doing so, followed by personal interests (32%) and education or qualifications (30%).
For the record, over-the-top lying is not good, and could quickly see your CV dismissed. Indeed, according to a separate study of 460 general hiring managers by Robert Half, 68% said they would rule out considering a candidate if they discovered they had been dishonest of exaggerated.
But are a few lies, or at least embellishments, necessary just to get you in the door – especially at a time when job advertisements are demanding years or experience for what otherwise appear to be entry-level or junior positions? Even positions classified as ‘internships’ are looking for “proven experience in social media/marketing”, while ‘coordinator’ roles are seeking “ideally two to three years experience” to be considered.
It seems CV creativity, at least, is often necessary, and plenty of men and women are already doing it (even if they’re not admitting it).
Frankly if you’re applying for a position you’re 100% qualified for, you’re doing yourself — and all of us — a disservice. Try harder. And stop lying about stretching the truth on your CV.