Article by Rebecca Roycroft, client services director at tech talent specialist mthree

job application, right careerAccording to research by LinkedIn, women apply to 20% fewer jobs than men and are less likely to apply unless they meet 100% of the job description criteria.

This is paralleled against men who will apply for a job if they meet just 60% of the listed requirements.

This reluctance of women to apply for a job if they don’t meet every requirement is a particular issue for the technology industry. According to the latest figures, women make up just 17% of the tech workforce, while just 56% of tech start-ups have only one woman in an executive role.

So, what can be done to address this gender imbalance? With so many women seemingly not even applying for tech roles, even when they are just as qualified as their male counterparts, scrutinising and breaking down technology job descriptions will be a good place for women applicants to start.

Look for the essential requirements

Identifying the essential requirements of a job description could help more women to determine whether they have the necessary skills to apply for and succeed in a role. Within a job description some requirements are essential, and others are preferred but sometimes this can be unclear. Therefore, women interested in a particular role shouldn’t be afraid to contact a business to differentiate between the two.

In a tech job description, core skills listed are generally those that are essential to performing the job day-to-day. These tend to be technical skills such as coding expertise for software development positions or proficiency in specific programming languages, such as Java and Python, for certain programming jobs.

On the other hand, transferable skills are often non-essential and can be developed on the job. For example, learning how to develop project management skills or acquiring leadership qualities may be more of a desired, rather than essential, requirement.

By understanding which skills are essential, women should be more encouraged to apply for a tech job if they meet the core skills required. It is not essential to possess all of the requirements listed, and transferrable skills can often be achieved once the candidate is placed in a role. Evidencing how you have transferrable skills such as leadership, can be achieved in the interview process and when entering into the job.

Listed experience can be flexible too

Similarly, it is important that women applying for tech roles are not put off by the request for a precise amount of experience.

A specified amount of experience is often desirable rather than essential, and suitability for the role can be successfully communicated in a well-written cover letter and CV.

If a candidate possesses the core skills of content management expertise for the role of a senior internet technical producer, for example, but the job description asks for five years of experience and the applicant only has four, this could be a missed opportunity if the application is not pursued.

Fill in the gaps during the interview process

Once the first hurdle of applying for the job is overcome, many women will find that they are offered an interview. This is the perfect time to address any perceived shortcomings by outlining transferrable skills and experience that can help to address the missing criteria that may have put off women from applying in the first place.

For example, if the listing asks for specific software experience, such as certain CRMs and project management tools, and the applicant doesn’t have experience with these exact programmes, demonstrating how similar software has been used before, will be beneficial. Outlining an understanding of the specified tools in the interview and how current skills are transferrable to the listed requirements, can show flexibility and an ability to learn processes quickly.

If confidence is demonstrated in transferrable skills and experience, then the interviewer will share this confidence too.

With a growing digital skills shortage, tech talent is in high demand. Whilst women should be seizing the opportunity to step outside of their comfort zone and apply for dream jobs that may seem just beyond their reach, businesses are also responsible for how their job descriptions could serve to ‘put off’ potential female candidates. Clearly listing key requirements along with ones that can be developed, could help more women to enter into, and provide meaningful contribution, to an already thriving UK tech industry.

For women themselves, having confidence in their abilities, being aware of their transferable skills and learning to look beyond intimidating lists of requirements, can help to pave the way for the next generation of diverse and inspirational female technology leaders.

Rebecca RoycroftAbout the author

Rebecca is responsible for delivering a seamless end to end experience for mthree’s clients across EMEA. Her prior experience spans MSP, RPO, SOW and Emerging Talent solutions such as graduate and apprenticeship programmes. Rebecca is an innovative and passionate leader, who has driven transformation and change within multiple organisations. She has been instrumental in creating successful and high performing teams across sales, client engagement and business operations.