A few weeks ago, I was doing my morning scan of LinkedIn and came across a post from a well-known recruiter within the advertising industry. Full disclosure-- I'm a recruiter too. The post read: "Hiring Group Account Director for a global digital agency. Must be a digital native with 15 - 20 years of experience. Must have robust web platform experience."
I was immediately struck by the apparent contradiction of the post itself. It was as if the person writing the job description wasn't sure what they were looking for and had just created parameters that were not realistic. A digital native with 20 years experience doesn't exist, unless the candidate began their career in the sixth grade. And sure, I can agree someone with twenty years of experience may be a good fit for this role. But I also believe a person with seven years of experience could be just as good or even better.
Most of us are familiar with the following statistic: Women feel they must meet all the requirements of a job description before applying to a job, whereas men feel they only need to meet 60% of the requirements to apply. But here's the thing: The right candidate will not always come with cookie cutter experience. That's okay. And in my case, it's often preferred.
Anytime I engage with a new client, I tell them that I will not always present the most obvious choice. I try to give my clients a field of candidates ranging in experience from almost there to should be there to already there. The reason I preface my matches this way is that women are often not promoted or extended the same opportunities as their male counterparts. Because of this, women often miss out on job opportunities because they do not have the “right title” for consideration by a prospective employer.
In my work, I have never overlooked the fact that women are motivated, scrappy, quick learners who can mostly do anything asked of them. I assure my clients that a candidate with unique experience will hit the ground running with more enthusiasm, ingenuity, and speed than a person who has been doing the same job for fifteen years.
I encourage women to take a chance and apply for jobs they don't fit the description for. The recruiting team might not know what they want. And looking gutsy is never a bad thing. Women might miss out on the "right title" or "right experience" for a job description, but they are often the best person for the job.
Jennifer Lambertson is the founder and CEO of the constellations, a female-first procurement service. She's passionate about bringing diversity to future-thinking companies while simultaneously doing her part to close the wage gap.