What Women Should Know About Bias in the Recruitment Process – and How to Overcome It

by Guest Author, Miles Oliver

As a society, we spend a lot of time talking about gender pay gaps in the workplace. While that remains a major issue, we often overlook something just as important — gender bias in the recruitment process. A 2016 study found that when it comes to candidates with comparable skills and performance levels, men are 1.5 times more likely to get hired for a job than women.

A lot of this has to do with unfortunate stigmas and outdated stereotypes. Looking for a job as a woman is a different experience. If you’re a female job-seeker, there are some things you should know about bias in the recruitment process. The more you understand how it might be affecting your search, the more you can do to overcome it.

With that in mind, let’s dive into why women are less likely than men to get hired into a role, how women often portray themselves differently when selecting jobs to apply to, and what you can do to overcome bias in the recruitment process.

Women Are Less Likely to Get Hired

It’s a sad but true reality – women are less likely to get hired when going up against a male candidate for a position. It’s hard to believe we’re still dealing with issues like this well into the 21st century. But, while women have made many strides when it comes to holding higher positions in business, there are still many systematic barriers that remain.

Women are often viewed as more sensitive. Or, it’s believed they’ll need more time off of work to have children or raise a family. Many interviewers still ask women about their plans to have children in the interview process, while men don’t get asked nearly as often.

Some people just don’t take women seriously, or still, believe the stereotype that they somehow aren’t as intelligent or capable as their male counterparts.

If these ideas and barriers sound antiquated, it’s because they are. However, they’re still very much present in the modern-day workplace. You might have even experienced some of these biases more than once throughout your career, and there’s no denying that they end up causing a lot of trouble for qualified women looking for specific career paths.

Why Do Women Sell Themselves Short?

Bias in the recruitment process is a societal problem, but many women are perpetuating the cycle with the way they see themselves – and their subsequent actions. First, women tend to be more cautious when looking for jobs, and they tend to reject job postings with masculine-coded language. If that sounds familiar, you could be missing out on potential positions that would be perfect for you.

Because of the bias in the workplace, many women also sell themselves short when it comes to what they can do and the skills they really possess. You might deal with “imposter syndrome” as you look for a job, second-guessing yourself and your abilities.

Women’s resumes also typically get rejected more than their male counterparts because they tend to be too “wordy.” You might think that you’re showing off your critical thinking skills by going into detail about your experience, skills, and objectives, but hiring managers look at a typical resume for about 6-7 seconds. If it looks too complicated or too hard to read, they’re bound to move on quickly without giving it any attention. If that happens to you, you could become hesitant to keep putting yourself out there.

You might even sell yourself short in a cover letter or throughout the interview process. While you don’t need to come across as cocky or arrogant, it’s also important not to question your own abilities because of nerves or assumptions.

What Can You Do to Overcome Recruitment Bias?

The knowledge that there’s a clear bias in the recruitment process can be disheartening. While you can’t do anything about eliminating that bias, there are things you can do to stand out in the recruitment process and land the job you deserve.

It starts with crafting a superior resume. Select the right template to showcase your skills, and include things like:

  • Areas of expertise right below your name;
  • A compelling objective;
  • Action verbs;
  • Relevant keywords.

Of course, a solid resume is only the first step. The real work begins when you’re going through the interview process. It’s far too easy for a potential employer or hiring manager to “disregard” you simply because you’re a woman. You can fight back against that by wearing the right thing to your interview. The saying “dress for success” rings true here. If you want to build a long- lasting, sustainable professional wardrobe, invest in a few neutral, timeless items and accessorize them to fit your personality and style so you feel comfortable and confident.

When it comes to saying the right things during your interview, don’t let the idea of gender bias trip you up. You can nail your interview by preparing as much as possible, making eye contact, speaking expressively, and managing your nerves. Do what you can to build a rapport with the hiring manager by sharing stories and listening intently to their questions. Doing so will make it easier for them to “drop” the bias and see you for who you really are and what you have to offer.

Unfortunately, bias in the recruitment process is likely here to stay for the time being. But, you don’t have to be a victim of it. Keep these ideas in mind to educate and empower yourself, and you can land the career of your dreams.

Need more job search advice?

Join Our DiscussionDoes your linkedin profile need a makeover

For more insights and a community of like-minded professionals join our LinkedIn group Resume Help and Advice for Professionals and Executives

About the author: Miles Oliver is a freelance contributor whose writing focuses on professional development. You can reach him at moliverpages@gmail.com


Leave a Comment