3 Essential Job Search Tips for Women

We’ve hit a landmark in the West where women have a lower unemployment rate than men, though on average they earn less. There are a number of reasons for this, including women choosing lower-paying majors like social sciences, working part-time at a greater rate than men, and not taking the same physically demanding jobs as men. However, there are reasons why women still face a different job market than men. Here are three essential job search tips for women.

Understand How to Balance Family Demands versus Workplace Demands

The wage gap has ceased to exist for women without children under the age of 30 when compared to men with the same credentials. The wage gap begins to show as women take time out of the workforce to have children, whether on maternity leave or because they quit work for a few years. Those who continue to work see lower pay raises and promotions because they cannot work overtime or travel. Do you want the best chance at the job? Don’t mention that you have children in casual conversations before the interview.

Don’t step into an interview where the job requires 0-25% travel and say, “I cannot travel”. The only potential exception is traveling locally, such as driving to customer sites. If the job may entail this, ask directly what type of travel the job requires and tell them it isn’t a fit for you if the demands are more than you can deliver. If the job states that it may require casual overtime, ask for more information, and decline a position if it requires a schedule you cannot support. And if the job requires overtime or travel and your family situation doesn’t allow for that, don’t waste your time applying and continue looking.

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Apply if you’re Somewhat Qualified

Many women won’t apply for a job unless they’re 100% qualified. What they don’t realize is how many items Human Resources departments list as requirements are things that are actually “nice to haves”. If you look for that perfect position, you’ll miss out on many positions for which you met all their requirements and had a few of their desired traits. If you have a master of financial economics from Ohio University, apply for the job calling for an MBA. You have the skills and an equivalent degree.



Women tend to rank much higher on agreeableness, the big five personality trait, than men. They avoid obvious conflict even if that is necessary to resolve the problem for the long term. Too many women assume that negotiation is a type of conflict to be avoided, so they don’t challenge a lowball offer by an employer and accept less than they could get otherwise. If they say your online master of financial economics degree isn’t the same as an MBA, detail how the coursework you took is equivalent to an MBA and taught you what the employer needs the employee to know.

Once a woman accepts less than she’s worth in a job, it tends to snowball because she refuses to negotiate market level pay for a new job, but instead takes a modest step up from her already below market rate salary.

Understand how you will handle family demands versus workplace demands and ask about issues like travel and overtime instead of assuming you cannot handle it, walking away if you actually cannot balance both. Drop the filler words and phrases that undermine your weight in the conversation. Apply if you’re only somewhat qualified, and understand that negotiation doesn’t make you look bad or avoiding it will not hurt anyone but yourself.


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