Date posted: 09/06/2021 5 min read

How your sex affects your resume

Your gender affects when and how you apply for a job. What do women and men do differently?

In Brief

  • Women tend to apply for jobs where they meet 100% of the criteria; men apply when they meet just 60%.
  • Research shows that gender also affects the way we write resumes.
  • Those differences may make a male’s resume appear stronger even when a female has similar achievements.

By John Burfitt

While both men and women browse jobs similarly, a report by LinkedIn Talent Solutions reveals that the way they apply for them is different.

When considering whether to go ahead with an application for a listed job, the report claims, women feel they need to meet 100% of the criteria. Meanwhile, men will apply after meeting just 60% of the criteria.

A US study concluded that even if names were taken off a pile of resumes, it would still be easy to identify those composed by women.

How men’s and women’s resumes are different

Kieran Snyder, CEO of writing platform Textio, published her research in Fortune in 2015, detailing the distinct ways gender plays a role in how resumes are presented.

When comparing female and male candidates, Snyder’s study found women’s resumes use almost twice the number of words, are pages longer, offer descriptions rather than measurable data, and use collaborative words rather than action verbs. Women also place less emphasis on the specific details and achievements of past roles and instead offer an overall narrative of their career.

In terms of layout, 91% of men include bullet-point lists, compared with 36% of women. Women will also include three times the amount of personal interest details compared with men.

The effect of those gender differences

In 2015, when Amazon discovered that such variations in presentation led its AI screening process to favour male candidates over women, it ceased using the program.

President of Tech Savvy Women JJ DiGeronimo states on a YouTube clip that many women summarise their activities and omit measurable metrics associated with outcomes. “So when people are reviewing resume to resume, it’s very common that men look stronger on the page than women do, even though they may have accomplished exactly the same thing.”

“It’s very common that men look stronger on the page than women do, even though they may have accomplished exactly the same thing.”
JJ DiGeronimo, Tech Savvy Women

Jillian Bullock of LinkedIn Ninja Down Under has observed that: “When creating resumes, men will be more upfront about any awards and achievements, while women often won’t include such details.”

She cites the example of working with nominees in the Telstra Businesswoman of the Year Awards. “When it came to creating their resumes, these women either forgot or chose not to include it, while a man would include it upfront,” she recalls.

“It’s a matter of not holding back about achievements to compete as equally as possible.”

The need to confront gender differences

The Snyder study concluded with a rallying call to HR departments and hiring managers to confront this gender difference in resumes.

DiGeronimo adds that it’s job candidates who need to be aware of the most effective strategies when putting themselves forward.

“The key reason for sending a resume is to secure an in-person meeting,” she says. “It is important to provide specific and measurable information to ensure a future interview.”

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