Put yourself in the game!

Often times I get so excited about tackling a new activity that I feel like I am in one of the championship games of a basketball team and I think to myself, "Come on! Put me in, Coach! Put me in! I can hit that 3-point shot." And then I hear the words, "But you haven't yet proven to me that you are capable."

McKinsey did a recent study that showed men are hired based on potential whereas women are hired based on their proven track record. Often times when someone says to me that I haven't proven my capabilities to them, I respond, "If you never give me the opportunity to show you then I will never be able to prove I am capable." I stare them in the eyes while they reflect and, more often than not, they allow me to try. I then do whatever it takes to make sure I get it done correctly, on time, and with a smile on my boss's face. ;) 

Throughout my career I have not only read studies but also seen firsthand how much more confident men are than women in the workplace. This also holds true for myself. I drive myself bonkers questioning my capabilities for any and all applications I submit, if it even gets to that point. Studies show that men will apply to a position when they only meet 60% of the criteria, whereas women will only apply if they meet 100% of the criteria. It's almost as if we, as women, need to successfully complete a personal interview before we can consider actually moving forward with the application process.

I want to walk you through a small exercise that helps me build confidence in myself: 

1. Print out the job posting.
2. Highlight all of the required criteria that you know you meet 80-100%
3. Write down the other strengths that you bring to this particular position.
4. Compare those two things to your resume. Does it tell the same story? If not, update your resume!
5. Write down the areas that you hope to grow in this role.

After I have completed this exercise, I can physically see on paper whether or not I am qualified enough to tackle this position. If you are applying within your department, then I would encourage you to be proactive and setup a meeting with your boss to let them know you are interested in the position (they can't know you are truly interested if you don't tell them. Use your voice!).

Talk your boss through your achievements and how you hope to grow from this role, then ask them if, from their perspective, there is anything that would prevent you from being considered for the position. If they tell you that you are not ready, don't just accept it - ask them what specifically you need to work on in order to improve your skillsets for when this position opens again in the future. Then work together with your boss to put a plan in place to improve upon these items.

If you are applying within the larger organization (i.e. a different department) or even outside of the company, it is best to talk to someone within those four walls. Check your LinkedIn network and see if you have a direct or secondary contact that works there. You can walk them through the same exercise to not only see if you would be a great technical fit, but also a cultural fit. If they feel that you would be a great candidate, ask them to refer you within their application system and/or speak to the hiring manager directly. There is nothing better than a word of mouth recommendation!

I often find that we, as women, need to talk ourselves into applying for a job. Staring at your qualifications and accomplishments in black and white is often the proof and support we need to give us confidence to start the application process. If that's all you need to prove to yourself that you are capable, then this will be a great exercise for you. Always remember: You will never be able to prove yourself if no one gives you the opportunity to do so. Don't wait for someone else to take a chance and put you in the game. Put yourself in. I guarantee you won't regret it!