Over the past 4 years I have worked closely on some graduate programs for global groups and I became aware of some unsettling trends in the job search behaviours of female STEM graduates and early career professionals.
Firstly, if we did not actively search for the female talent, engage and encourage these individuals to consider an opportunity, they would not have applied. Secondly, many of the females performed poorly at the interview. The feedback from employers was that these individuals did not answer the technical questions well, were not able to confidently articulate their final project and were reluctant to discuss their achievements.
There was a disconnect between the candidate and the prospective employer.
I knew these individuals were smart, passionate about their area of study and keen to start their career. References and behavioural based interviews had been conducted and qualifications certified. Many of these women had powerful backstories and when you explored what sparked their interest in STEM, their passion was evident. However ….none of this or, a watered down version was presented at the interview.
I am at the cold face of seeing biases in many disguises in action even when organisations are committed to diversity and inclusion. The policy vs reality gap is glaring and the commitment to action has certainly begun but has a long way to go.
Sitting on the other side of the table, many females often lack the confidence to articulate their story and are too humble to talk about their success and passion in their studies. The reality is that many females will not apply for roles if they don’t meet 100% of the criteria.
This means there is a wonderful opportunity to address this disconnect.
We want to tackle this issue and build the confidence and self-awareness of female candidates and equip them with the tools to change their job search behaviours. We want them to value their own personal brand and effectively communicate their professional passion and stand out in front of an employer. We want these females to apply for the jobs that excite them and then we want them to authentically present themselves to secure their first role or the next step in their career. In short, we want them to believe in themselves and be bold!
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