To encourage the inclusion of all types of workers, it is important to break down the barriers that prevent diversity. One of those first barriers can arise in the job adverts themselves. The way they are written can have an impact on the diversity of the candidates who apply, both in the search for new talent and in internal promotions.
The use of a certain language can discourage people who feel underrepresented from applying for a position, even if they are sufficiently qualified. Certain expressions commonly used in the search for candidates can convey there are innate abilities and skills that can generate stereotypes and alienate potential applicants from underrepresented groups.
Additionally, job adverts that are vague or overly demanding can lead valid candidates to self-exclude. In an article published in Forbes, this trend was analysed, concluding that men tend to respond to job ads when they see that they meet 60% of the requirements, while the usually common requirement for women leads them to do so only when they meet 100% of the requirements.
We have developed a set of simple tips to try to identify these possible situations and change the way you word your job adverts:
- Avoid extreme language. This type of language can lead to certain candidates excluding themselves. Words like “expert” can leave out interesting profiles. It is better to specify with phrases such as, “experience working with a particular technology”.
- Eliminate gender-coded wording that can convey stereotypes. Words like “competing” or “dominant” are male-coded and can deter women from applying for a certain job. Use online gender decoders, to remove male-coded wording from job profiles making them more accessible to all candidates.
- Avoid unclear or unnecessary requirements. It is better to limit yourself to specifying the absolutely necessary requirements for the position and include a section of “extra” characteristics that will be positively valued but are not essential.
- Convey a growth mindset. Companies that invest in talent development are more likely to attract candidates from underrepresented groups. Phrases that reflect fixed qualities such as “analytical by nature,” “extremely intelligent,” or “high achievers” turn off applicants with growth potential. The opposite happens with phrases like “you love to learn” or “motivated to take on challenges”.
- Demonstrate your commitment to diversity and inclusion. It is highly recommended to dedicate a space to describe the organisation’s commitment to the search for all kinds of talent to create a diverse workforce with representation from any social group.
- Use “you” and “us”. Addressing the candidate directly with expressions like “you love finding the best solution to a problem” is much better than other impersonal ones like “the ideal candidate”.
- Never make assumptions about gender. When it comes to referring to the applicant, it is best to use non gendered terms such as “you” or “the person”.
- Use the most simple and concise language possible. Job postings that are easy to read attract more applicants and do not exclude neurodiverse candidates.
- State the purpose and values of the company. Highlighting the values and mission of the company is a good practice to incorporate into the offer, as it can help candidates determine if this is a place they would like to work.
- Hiring better starts with writing better. Good writing is, in many cases, the key to fostering inclusion. An advert written with inclusive language can fill the position 17% faster and attract 23% more applications from women.
Building a more diverse and inclusive work environment is essential to attracting talent. The time spent crafting job adverts with inclusive language will pay off almost immediately, helping to attract high-value professionals who might not otherwise pay attention to poorly written offers.