We Need To Talk About Boys

So here’s a statistic. Of the last five roles I’ve worked on, I haven’t put forward a single male candidate. Not one.

In fact, at one point, LinkedIn Recruiter was pushing me to make my talent pools more diverse by adding in more boys. Men. Either.

And for all the talk of being diverse, for all the talk of giving our clients a diverse list of candidates to choose from, I’m now failing on that front because the only candidates I’m giving them are female.

So what’s going on?

Firstly, I’m not doing this intentionally. I try to go into the sourcing process blind to name, gender and ethnicity. A topic for another day would be how we’re putting forward such a large proportion of non-British marketers, but let’s park that.

But even considering that the search might give us a balance of 60-40 female-male, our shortlists end up being exclusively female.

It’s not always that female candidates are better than male candidates. I think it’s that they market themselves better, and that they’re often more realistic.

Me, 2023, in this blog post

Looking back over that period, here’s what I think has happened:

Female candidates turn up, at least

This is not just a current trend, but if I were to count the male candidates who haven’t turned up either to the screening interview with me or the ACTUAL interview with the client, then I’d need another hand.

I don’t treat them any differently. I don’t forget to remind them. I don’t forget to send their invites. I don’t forget to chase them. But there’s sometimes a fear at the back of my mind that this candidate might not turn up.

Again, hashtag NotAllMen and all that, but it’s now at the back of my mind.

My job is to present my clients with the best candidates that will improve performance in their marketing teams. It’s that simple. If my experience is that certain candidates are not turning up to their interviews, or are less interested – then I simply eliminate those candidates in advance.

Me, always

Female candidates say what they are on the tin

I’m at risk of generalising here, but certainly if I look back on my experience of these last five all-female candidate shortlists, there is a distinction between how the candidates present themselves on LinkedIn:

  • Almost all female candidates are what they say they are: their LinkedIn title is their job title, their opening statement is clear, and they are often very clear on their metrics.
  • A proportion of male candidates are in ‘hustle’ mode – instead of a job title, they have mission statements such as “Helping B2B organisations see the value of yadiyadiya…” or “Driving revenue for…”

Self-realisation moment: perhaps if I spent a bit more time diving into the details of what exactly it is the male candidates are doing, I could select a few more.

But I am like many recruiters in this respect – I don’t have all the time in the world. If I can’t see what you’re doing, what you’ve done and what you’ve achieved quickly, I’ll find someone else where I can.

I have a good eye for talent – obvs, or I would be elsewhere – but I don’t have all day.

And to be brutal – the majority of female candidates are professional. They present themselves well, they respond quickly, they don’t oversell themselves and they interview brilliantly. I’m afraid that cannot always be said about male candidates who sometimes have a tendency to oversell.

Again, hashtag NotAllMen, but you see the picture.

The money issue

We can’t address a Men vs Women debate without talking about remuneration. Because while it’s true across MOST PROFESSIONS that women are paid less than their male counterparts, it’s not necessarily true in performance or social media marketing.

However, what we’re seeing is that:

  • Many male candidates are asking for more than the specified salary bands
  • Many female candidates are not

So it’s pretty obvious that some male candidates are slipping through simply because they want more money than is advertised, whereas I’m actively encouraging some female candidates to simply ask for more than they’re currently earning.

This doesn’t mean I don’t have female candidates who turn round and say “yeah, this job role is nice but I want more money” – this happens. But it happens mostly with the male candidates.

If you can draw a conclusion from this – it’s that male candidates are asking for more than their female counterparts, at least in performance marketing.

If I had a pound for every time a female candidate told me “Well, I’m on x at the moment, so I’d like that or a little more”, then I’d have enough to stop running a recruitment business and retire. Which is a slight exaggeration, but on the flip side, if I had a pound for every time a male candidate told me “I’m worth x“, then I’d be quite rich.

How the hell do I come to a conclusion on this?

I am encouraging my female candidates to ask for what they’re worth, but am I encouraging the male candidates to think what they’re really worth?

Because your real worth in the market is dictacted by the market itself, not by you the candidate.

This is a harsh truth, but one I’ve come to learn myself over the years. You can ask for £200,000 a year if you want, but you’re not going to get it.

The value of appropriate role models

I have two kids – a 12-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy. And yes, like any parent, I worry constantly about what they’re viewing on YouTube, who they’re listening to, who else is in their ear.

Discussion often turns to Andrew Tate, that obnoxious rapist porn-pedler who has captivated teenage boys over the last year or two through his aspirational misogyny. I like to think I’ve hardened them against such influences.

My daughter has grown up in a world of books about Inspirational Women. Amelia Earhart, Rosa Parks, Marie Curie, now even Doctor Who… my son is growing up in a #MeToo world where we’re having to explain that it’s not good to be like Andrew Tate. That the people who created Prime are cynical business people, not layabout fools who play pranks all the time (this is not a viable business model young man). Where are his role models? (Other than me, y’know).

Both need educating about YouTubers and TikTok influencers, how they make their money, how they’re creating an impression for impressionable people.

They’re obviously too young to get onto my candidate shortlists, but I often wonder what role models do young boys have once they enter the workforce? Are they even appropriate?

Can we (slightly, ahem) older men do a bit more to provide those role models and mentor young men as they start their careers?

You know, I wonder if we can.

Me, thinking on my feet, 2023

I look back at the first ten years of my career and how even I wouldn’t have employed myself until I was 30. But how a little bit of help might have been useful.

I was lucky not to have to grow up and enter the workforce with YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, SnapChat and all these mind-warpingly awful influencers trying to sell me a dream all of the time. I would say the same of some LinkedIn influencers, too, who are slipping down the same shady street.

So a little help is always on offer. If you ask for it.

#NotAllMen

I know it’s not all male marketers. And equally, it’s not all female marketers.

If I were to distill this into any sort of actional advice, because THAT’S WHAT YOU ALL CRAVE ISN’T IT, then I’d say the following to everyone – but mostly the boys in the room:

  • Please don’t oversell yourself on LinkedIn, or use these ridiculous mission statements as your title.
  • Be clear about what you do and what you’ve achieved. No business BS, no vagueness, just be the tin and what it says on it.
  • Get a professional headshot. Lads, you won’t get anywhere with a cropped image of you at a wedding or a night out.
  • Get a mentor. Early. Even if you think you’re too young for that, find someone who’s doing well and ask for some time.
  • Know your value and respect the market value.

And in exchange, having learned from my apparent lack of diversity, I promise to:

  • Dwell a bit longer on those badly put-together profiles
  • Shell out whatever advice I can, if you want it
  • Help you understand the market & what you might be worth in that market

Deal?

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