I got my first job when I was 16, working behind the counter of a Honeybaked Ham Company store in Clearwater, FL. At that age, regardless of gender, you’re on par with everyone else wrapping sticky pork shanks in tin foil and plastic netting. It doesn’t take a heck a lot of life skills to achieve your daily objectives and at the end of a shift, a young lady wields a gray mop exactly the same way that a young man does.
Confidence & The Corporate World
Years later, I entered the corporate world. Wow, did that paradigm ever shift. Call it urban legend but it’s been said that when a man sees a job posting with ten job requirements, he will look at the list, see three items where he has NO experience and think, “I’m completely qualified for this position.” A woman, on the other hand, will see the same posting and the same three areas where she is limited in skill and experience and think, “I am absolutely NOT qualified for the job.” What gives? I’m all for gender equality in the workforce, but it’s all for nothing if we psychologically doom ourselves before we ask for the job, isn’t it?
Despite my humble, entry level beginnings in the working world, I’ve been hiring people for half of my life now. When we go through this process, I typically become involved in the final rounds of interviews.
Qualifications, expertise, and education are all critical, but a candidate’s natural confidence can put a prospective hire over the top for me.
There’s a certain athleticism that goes hand in hand with confidence. These candidates possess the competitive spirit of an athlete—present or former. This is what speaks to me. They know what it feels like to be in the game, and they love it. What’s more, if they have the spirit to ask for the job, that’s my hire! Gender is unimportant to me.
Asking Done Well
My colleague, Lili Hall, is the Founder and CEO of KNOCK, a Minneapolis-based creative agency driven by strategy and design. In her opinion, the industry you are in can affect whether women ask for jobs or promotions. She recalls, “I asked for my first job at Adidas, back in 1996. It was a big step for me in that it definitely felt like I was stepping outside of my comfort zone.” That particular experience plus the support of peers at Adidas gave Lili the confidence to continue asking for the positions she wanted.
In the end, Hall’s bold move paid off. She was hired to manage the department store business and was one of only two women in that region of the country. That experience gave her the confidence to advance her career in fashion, and from there, establish a business in design and marketing. “I’ve brought my own experience in asking for jobs into how I hire for my own company. I’m looking for people that, in addition to being qualified, are very open-minded, curious and, above all, passionate.”
“One thing does remain constant, the power of confidence.”
While I can’t promise this hiring structure or these particular values and practices will hold true across organizations, or even across industries, one thing does remain constant, the power of confidence. Whether you are competing for a complex, high level position with a Fortune 500 company, or deftly wrapping and netting a sweet honey ham, your confidence and attitude are what will always set you apart from your counterparts. Go ahead, ask for the job. Exercise your Ask Muscle.
Joy’s expertise is large-scale sales, global implementations, and implementing Lean Sigma in organizations seeking continuous improvement as they align strategy within the life sciences, financial services, healthcare, and energy sectors. A business leader, advisor, speaker, writer, and facilitator, Joy is frequently featured in mainstream business media. To learn more about Joy’s work visit www.tayganpoint.com or connect with her on LinkedIn.