New Report: Women Apply to Fewer Jobs Than Men, But Are More Likely to Get Hired

March 5, 2019

Women and men find jobs differently. And as more and more companies want to build gender-balanced teams and hire and promote more women, the question is — what is that difference exactly?

To answer that, we dug into LinkedIn data and analyzed billions of interactions between professionals, companies, and recruiters. We looked at how open women and men are to new opportunities, how they browse and apply to jobs, how they interact with recruiters, and how likely they are to get hired after applying.

It turns out that while women’s journey to getting a new job starts off very similarly to men’s, it diverges when it comes to applying to the job or to being proactively recruited.

A decisive step toward hiring more women and creating a gender-balanced workforce is understanding these differences and optimizing the recruiting process to be more inclusive. Read below to see the details and download the Gender Insights Report for the full scoop and tips for developing a gender-balanced hiring strategy.

Both genders do their homework upfront

Career FOMO is a serious thing.

Almost 90% of both women and men are open to hearing about new opportunities from recruiters and their network long before they are applying to jobs. And once they decide it’s truly the time to get proactive and submit job applications, both genders do their homework. On average, they browse over 40 jobs per candidate and spend a similar amount of time researching employers before applying.

A sizeable number of women and men want to learn more about the company’s culture and employees and check out those employer’s LinkedIn Company pages.

Tip for employers: Make sure that your employer brand presence is strong and use this opportunity to show your commitment to diversity and ensure that it’s reflected in the photos and stories you share. Highlight female employees, particularly those in leadership positions as they may serve as role models for female applicants.

Women are more selective (or hesitant) when applying

While both genders browse jobs similarly, they apply to them differently. Research shows that in order to apply for a job women feel they need to meet 100% of the criteria while men usually apply after meeting about 60%.

LinkedIn behavioral data backs this up — women tend to screen themselves out of the conversation and end up applying to 20% fewer jobs than men. What’s more, women are more hesitant to ask for a referral from somebody they know at the company.

Employer tip: To encourage women to apply, be thoughtful about what you put in your job postings. Roles with endless lists of requirements, nice-to-haves, and strict seniority demands can deter women from applying as they often want to make sure they check every box you list.

Instead, experts like Lou Adler advise focusing on what are the performance objectives of the role and what the person will be expected to accomplish. This approach will give candidates a more realistic idea of the job and attract people with a non-traditional skill set and experiences.

Recruiters are more likely to open a man’s profile

An important part of achieving gender balance at work is addressing unconscious bias in the sourcing process.

The data shows that when recruiters are searching for candidates and they see a list of men and women, they tend to open men’s LinkedIn profiles more frequently. However, after recruiters review a candidate’s profile, they find women to be as qualified as men and reach out to both genders at a similar rate.

Employer tip: To combat the initial selection bias, more companies are implementing anonymized hiring and removing key identifiers like names and photos from candidates’ applications. Some are even using VR technology to eliminate the bias of in-person interviews. LinkedIn also offers the option to disable viewing candidate photos within LinkedIn Recruiter.

However, a basic first step would be surfacing this information to your recruiting team and making them aware of the potential unconscious bias in their search behavior. A small change in how they go through search results can have a big impact on your hiring pipeline.

Women are more likely to get hired – once they apply

The good news is that when women do apply to a job, they are 16% more likely than men to get hired. In fact, if the role is more senior than their current position, that number goes up to 18%.

While this is an uplifting stat, it does show that women do a very thorough job at vetting roles — sometimes maybe too thorough. If women only apply when they feel extremely qualified, this could also indicate they are not pursuing stretch opportunities.

The path forward

Given women’s higher likelihood to get hired once they apply, the key to establishing a gender-balanced workforce may be getting more women in the pipeline.

To do that, companies should start by examining their current gender split across departments and functions and spotting areas for improvement. As you identify key talent pools to go after, start sharing relevant employer branding content and building out inclusive job descriptions that focus on what success in the role looks like and not a laundry list of job requirements.

Another very impactful tactic is training your recruiting team to be aware of sourcing bias – a simple change in behavior like making a point to consider more female profiles can go a long way in filling your company’s pipeline with successful candidates.

These are just a few basic steps to get started. For a deeper dive into the data and a more detailed look in how you can build a thoughtful, data-driven strategy to recruit women, download the Gender Insights Report: How Women Find Jobs Differently.

Co-authored by Deanne Tockey