The 10 Steps Women Take While Job Searching Offer Actionable Advice on Attracting Applicants

Sponsored by Fairygodboss Inc.

Graphic representing the first few steps of the job search journey.


Crystabel Reiter
Crystabel Reiter
May 20, 2024 at 2:4AM UTC

A job searcher has just started looking for a new job as an account executive. She’s set up a few job alerts and receives an email that there are new account executive jobs listings open. What happens next in her job search journey? And how can we use this knowledge to better attract candidates and get them to apply?

To answer these questions, I ran a study investigating how different women approach the job search process. While my test size was small for this first study1, I did find a few consistent and useful connections between these women job seekers. Let’s take a look at the results…

Optimize the start of the job search journey: Better attracting job seekers.

An image depicting the first three steps of a woman’s job search journey based on new research.

The first three steps on the job search journey.

In this study, the first step of the job search journey is receiving an email alert about a job posting. 

From here, the studied participants navigated to the job search engine linked to from the email. If the participant viewed the notification on her mobile device, she will likely not move much farther in the process until she returns to a desktop device. This is because we found that job searchers prefer desktop for job searching and applying, even if they use their mobile phone to view job alerts and notifications.

Once in a desktop view, the study showed that women job seekers use filters to narrow the list of search results to better target desired results.

An animation of searching for a job on Fairygodboss.

A job seeker applying filters while looking for an account executive position.

But what does all of this mean for companies looking to increase their number of applicants? A few takeaways are that:

  1. Improving job alert emails to increase the CTR (clickthrough rate) is key.

  2. It’s important to prioritize improving your desktop experience, since women job seekers will likely be applying in a desktop view.

  3. Adding more robust filters to help job searchers more easily find relevant positions will help them continue in their job search journey.

Keep the confidence gap in mind: Improving the middle stages of the job search journey.

So, our job searcher has created a filtered list of more targeted job postings for herself. What’s next?

 A graphic showing the middle stages of a woman’s job search, according to a new study.

Steps four to seven in the job search journey.

Our study found that the job seeker next views an individual job posting. On this specific listing, she begins by scrolling down to the job description and qualifications to determine whether she wants to apply. If a woman job seeker views two to three specific skills that she doesn’t have the qualifications for, she decides the job isn’t for her and moves on.

This process may repeat multiple times until the job searcher finds a job that she thinks will best fit most of her qualifications, a job where she knows someone who works there or a job that she knows pays well. However, this is not where the job journey ends

The study found that women job seekers will often save jobs before applying to them. The interviewed participants noted that they wanted to have a list of saved jobs they were interested in before starting to apply. 

From this, we learned a few things about women job seekers in the middle of their application journey:

  1. The confidence gap is a continuing issue, with women less likely to apply to a job where they don’t meet all of the qualifications. (In fact, one in two women don’t even feel confident at work right now!) To help with this, hiring managers may want to consider listing only a few skills that they need and encouraging applicants to apply even if they don’t meet all of the qualifications. This is one strategy that Fairygodboss uses for their job postings.

  2. In addition to qualifications, unsurprisingly, salary information is a top deciding factor for job seekers, with a lack of salary information being a huge pain point for women job seekers. Therefore, if you take salary seriously, you will be taken seriously

  3. From our study, we also see that women job seekers tend to be strategic about their decisions, narrowing down a list of potential jobs (possibly into something like an Excel spreadsheet) and coming back to apply later. Creating options to save a job posting or set a reminder to apply and adding dates that show when the job was posted or applications will be closed may be useful tools to get users to return.

Provide all the necessary information for a strategic decision: Getting applications.

An image depicting the final stages in a woman’s job search journey, based on research from Fairygodboss.

Steps eight to ten in the job search journey.

After saving a job, our job seeker performs more research on all of her saved listings, including navigating to the company website and sites like Glassdoor for company reviews and salary information.

Once this research is completed, the job searcher decides to apply to the jobs with the best reviews, salary information and benefits information. 

To help in the final stages of this job search journey, companies can provide as much relevant information in job posting as possible, reducing the amount of outside research needed. In addition to the information mentioned in the previous section, adding well-written job convincers to your job postings will make your jobs stand out from the crowd. 

This study found that while ambiguous convincers (e.g., “Our company supports women.”) don’t work well, strong, specific convincers help differentiate your jobs and keep job seekers coming back! 

A few examples of specific convincers that Fairygodboss partners have used are:

  • Heap’s executive team is 40% women.

  • Moody’s Corporation has a commitment of $1 million over the next five years to promote equal justice and advancement of the Black community.

  • At The Hartford, the Professional Women’s Network (PWN) provides professional support, growth, advancement and networking to enable greater gender balance.

I hope that you’ll find this research helpful when creating job alerts, job search functionality and listings that help attract talented applicants! And, if you have any techniques that you have found work well, let us know in the comments. 

About Fairygodboss

Fairygodboss is the largest career community for women. We help women achieve their career goals by providing community advice, connections, jobs, events, and exclusive company intel from other women.

Fairygodboss works with more than 200 major U.S. companies to help them attract top talent and enhance their employer brand among women. By partnering with us, employers can increase the number of qualified applicants to their open positions, engage their current workforce and leverage their endorsements, and share their story about why they are a great place for women to work.

This study consisted of six participants in the U.S., ranging from 26-52 years old, with a range of educational backgrounds (from some college to a Master’s degree) and household income levels from $35,000-$300,000.

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