The CEO of New York's WNBA team gives her best advice for anyone who wants to take the next big step in their career

The CEO of New York's WNBA team gives her best advice for anyone who wants to take the next big step in their career
Keia Clarke, CEO of WNBA's The Liberty, shared her top career advice.The Liberty
  • The CEO of the WNBA's The New York Liberty team, Keia Clarke shared her top career advice: Don't be afraid to apply for a job you're not 100% sure you're qualified for.
  • She said women need to hear this advice because they are less likely to apply for jobs for which they feel underqualified.
  • Indeed, LinkedIn research shows women are 16% less likely to apply to a job than men after looking at it.
  • Women are also more likely to report they didn't apply for a job because they were "following the rules" of who could apply, per data published in Harvard Business review.

Three years ago, Keia Clarke had a big decision to make: apply for a job in the C-suite or pass the opportunity up. She could remain vice president of the WNBA's New York Liberty team, a job she was comfortable with, or she could go for the role of COO.

She went back and forth for a few days, unsure if she was qualified. Ultimately, she applied and got the job.

Two years later, she went from COO of the team to CEO. She now has 13 direct reports and oversees the team's brand and revenue.

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"Don't be afraid to go for or apply for roles that you may not be 100% qualified for at the moment. I can't press upon people enough that we need to be interviewing for roles, working our networks, and getting in front of people who are hiring for various roles," Clarke told Business Insider.

That's her top career advice, which she said is especially important for women to hear.


"Women are less prone to go for positions they feel less qualified for. What I tell young people is: 'You're gonna learn on the job either way you look at it,'" she said.

LinkedIn data from 2019 shows women are 16% less likely than men to apply for a job after viewing it. And they apply to 20% fewer jobs than men.

A 2014 survey of 1,000 people published in Harvard Business Review found women are nearly twice as likely as men to say they didn't apply for a job because they were "following the guidelines about who should apply."

In other words, women are more likely to think a job's listed qualifications are set in stone, which often isn't the case, Tara Mohr, author of "Playing Big" writes in Harvard Business Review.

"What held them back from applying was not a mistaken perception about themselves, but a mistaken perception about the hiring process," Mohr wrote.


Clarke suggests applying for jobs even if you only think you're qualified for a part of the role.

Don't let the fear of failure stop you from trying out new opportunities, she said. Clarke has experienced fear "many times" throughout her career, she said, but she hasn't let it stop her.

If you're struggling with a big career decision, the CEO suggests talking with mentors.

"If you can put together the fundamentals of good business acumen, you don't need a master's degree, you just need an opportunity. And when someone gives you that opportunity, you've got to roll with it until the wheels fall off," Clarke said.