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Attract the best talent with inclusive job descriptions

Inclusive job descriptions

Attract the best talent

Every company wants to hire and build the best team they can — but you can’t find the most talented employees if you’re not taking the right steps to attract them. Individuals searching for work are likely exploring many different options to find the perfect fit. An inclusive job description is the difference between someone deciding to apply to your company, or deciding to continue their search elsewhere.

Being aware of different unconscious biases

Whether you realize it or not, your job listings may have some lingering biases in them. Triple-check that your language is inclusive and welcoming to all. Doing this will ensure that all qualified candidates feel comfortable applying. We have a guide on inclusive language in the workplace that offers specific alternatives to more discriminatory language.

Age discrimination
Don’t count out older, more experienced candidates. You might be doing this if you’re advertising the ideal candidate as someone who’s “young and energetic” or a recent college graduate. Even terms such as “tech savvy” will make older talent feel unwelcome when they might be your ideal candidate.

Cultural and racial bias
You might be steering away individuals from other cultures or backgrounds based on how you phrase certain requirements. Asking for “native English speakers” rather than those “fluent in English” could prevent qualified candidates who are bilingual from applying.

The more individuals that feel comfortable applying for your open position, the more diverse array of talent you have to choose from and find that perfect fit.

Gender bias
Unconscious bias can sometimes occur right in the job titles themselves. Don’t advertise an open position for a “chairman” or a “salesman.” Instead, say you’re looking for a chairperson or sales rep. Gendered job titles are a quick way to turn away female candidates as women aren’t going to see themselves fitting into your open position if it feels geared more towards men.

Consider writing your job descriptions without any gendered pronouns. “She/he” may turn away candidates who don’t identify with the gender binary. Besides, it sounds a lot more personal to write with “you” language, just as we’re doing in this guide.

Socioeconomic bias
Does someone really need an advanced degree in order to excel at the role you’re advertising? Something that seems as simple as an education requirement can actually be biased against individuals who weren’t afforded the opportunity to further their education.

There are other legitimate learning paths aside from an institution, and it’s important to keep that in mind when writing inclusive job descriptions.

Ableism
It’s important to make sure that people with disabilities don’t feel discriminated against when reading your job description. For example, if you’re using words such as “talk,” “walk,” or “type,” consider replacing them with “communicate,” “move,” and “input” respectively.

If your position is open to workers of all abilities, you should mention any accommodations you have in place. These could include remote work or flexible hours. If you make it clear that you’re willing to accommodate candidates, they’ll be more encouraged to apply.

ReplaceWith
Young and energeticPassionate
Native English speakersFluent in English
ChairmanChairperson
She/heThey/you
X years of experienceSpecific qualities
Talk with clients about __Communicate with clients about __


How to revise your job descriptions

It’s easy to recycle job descriptions — but no one ever got better by taking the easy way out. Just as your company is evolving and growing, your job descriptions should be doing the same. Whenever you’re looking to fill a position, whether it’s a new one or an old one, it’s worth taking a closer look at your job descriptions and making sure they’re not excluding anyone.

When job descriptions make certain groups of people feel left out, you’re not going to be attracting diverse candidates. Even if you think your job postings are in fine shape, consider circling back and ensuring that they’re truly inclusive.

Remember, the job description should be about the job, not the person applying. It should focus on the work itself.

Opt for gender-neutral words
You might say you’re an inclusive workplace, but the language in your job postings might actually be saying otherwise. If you’re scratching your head because your pool of candidates is overwhelmingly male, it may have something to do with the language found in your job description.

There’s no need to say you’re looking for a “rockstar” when what you really mean is someone who executes every task assigned to them. And don’t call someone a data “ninja” if you’re just talking about a data analyst. Be straightforward with what you’re looking for in job titles, and avoid masculine words that’ll deter women from applying.

  • Masculine-coded words:
  • aggressive
  • competitive
  • assertive
  • dominant
  • outspoken
  • independent
  • Feminine-coded words:
  • cooperative
  • gentle
  • nurturing
  • sociable
  • dedicated
  • warm

If you’re unsure if your language is gender-neutral or not, the Gender Decoder is a free tool that will let you know if your job ad is off-putting to men or women in any way.

Make sure your “requirements” are actually requirements
Don’t needlessly reduce your candidate pool by saying things are must-haves when they’re really not. Applying to jobs takes time, and people — women specifically — aren’t as likely to apply to a job if they feel like they don’t meet 100% of the requirements.

On the other hand, men will apply for a job if they think they meet around 60% of the qualifications. It’s not due to an issue with confidence, Harvard Business Review concluded. Women candidates who opt not to apply thought they could do the job just fine, but they were deterred by the long list of requirements and didn’t want to waste time and energy applying when it seemed like they wouldn’t be hired.

Requiring a set amount of years of experience is another way to, again, limit your options. More experience doesn’t necessarily mean someone is a better fit for the role. Explore alternatives to this common requirement and get more specific with the qualifications a good candidate needs.

Of course, if a requirement is really a requirement, it’s okay to list that. But just keep in mind that the more requirements, the less likely for you to have a talent pool that’s diverse. Take note of which skills could be considered preferable over required, and what can easily be learned on the job.

Cut the corporate jargon
Plain language is always your best friend, no matter the circumstance. A job description is no different. Especially when it comes to entry-level positions or internships, corporate acronyms or insider terms are likely to steer away individuals who’d otherwise be a great fit.

If you want someone to feel welcome at your company, don’t make them feel like an outsider with industry-specific terminology. Your inclusive job description — if it’s really inclusive — should be welcoming to all.

What not to includeWhat to include
Unnecessary requirementsOnly “must-haves”
Gender-coded languageNeutral language without gendered pronouns
Industry-specific jargonPlain language
Unnecessary education requirementsCompany benefits


Sell yourself

You can’t expect potential candidates to apply to your company if you don’t make it sound like a good place to work. Additionally, you can’t build an inclusive, diverse workforce if you’re not demonstrating how you’re committed to those values.

List your inclusive benefits
To build the talented and inclusive workforce that you so desire, you need to ensure you’re accommodating your employees. This means making the benefits of working for your company clear in the job posting. Let them know what’s in it for them.

Put the perks right in your job listing to attract valuable candidates, such as:

  • Parental leave
  • Remote work
  • Paid sick days
  • Paid volunteer days
  • Vacation time
  • Wellness programs
  • Insurance
  • Flexible work hours


Post a salary range in your job description
Consider including a salary range in your job posting. No one wants to put the time into applying and interviewing only to learn that the compensation isn’t what they were looking for.

Listing a salary lends you trust and credibility. By letting job seekers know off the bat what they can expect to make, you’re demonstrating your commitment to pay equity. With a visible salary, candidates can feel at ease knowing they won’t be discriminated against pay-wise when it comes to their gender, race, age, or other demographics.

Note your company’s commitment to inclusion
Stating that you’re an equal opportunity employer at the end of a job description is one step, but writing your own statement will go much further in a candidate’s eyes. Explain specifically how your company is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

According to First Round Review, “Job listings with strong equal opportunity language fill 10% faster on average across all demographic groups.” If you truly want to improve your hiring practices, then craft a human, personal statement to attract more diverse talent.

Why having inclusive job descriptions will benefit your company

If you let unconscious biases impact your hiring process, you’re never going to recruit top talent and create an inclusive workplace. A well-thought out description has tons of positive impacts.

  • Candidates won’t self-eliminate.
    If the job description doesn’t feel inclusive or open to all, qualified candidates may end up excluding themselves. If your listing feels welcoming, people will take the time to apply.
  • You can better serve your clients.
    With a diverse array of employees, you’ll be better situated to mirror your clientele. If your company isn’t made up of a diverse selection of employees, you might find your customers aren’t either.
  • Everyone can see themselves in the role.
    You don’t want potential talent to wonder if they’d be the right fit — everyone should feel this way when reading an inclusive job description. Attract everyone and don’t limit your options.
  • Experience increased innovation and creativity.
    When you have people from different backgrounds and mindsets working together, innovation and creativity is sure to grow. A diverse workplace will result in more success business-wise.


Write inclusive job descriptions with Writer

Writer is your AI writing assistant that can help you produce well-written, inclusive job descriptions to make the hiring process easier. Enjoy more applicants and a deeper pool of candidates.

With Writer, you can ensure that you’re not including any of the previously mentioned biases in your job descriptions. Writer can help you write in plain language, improve your overall business writing, avoid any accidental jargon, and communicate in a healthy manner in the workplace.


Illustration by Meredith Schomburg

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