How to Write Inclusive Job Descriptions

Are you discouraging great applicants from applying? Writing inclusive job descriptions is your first step to attracting top talent. According to a Hewlett-Packard report, men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications. In comparison, women only apply if they meet 100% of the requirements. The report also states that 22% of women indicated that their top reason for not applying to jobs is that they’re scared of failing. On the other hand, 13% of men would rather apply to a position and fail rather than not apply at all. 

LinkedIn points out that “even something minor – like a word- can affect whether or not you are attracting a diverse talent pool.” So, how do you write job descriptions that ensure you’re diversifying your candidate pool? 

Use General, Neutral Language

The goal of a job description is to invite applicants to apply. In order to do this successfully, you must avoid using a gender-biased language known to discourage candidates from applying. Women often will feel discouraged when finding masculine language within a job description, and vice versa for men. 

For example, when women come across words like “competitive” or “strong,” they may feel discouraged from applying to that particular role. Men often feel discouraged when finding feminine language within job descriptions such as “supportive” or “nurturing.” Watch out when it comes to selecting pronouns as well. Instead of using words like “he” or “she,” write “you” or “they” when describing responsibilities.

Need help writing general neutral job descriptions? Here are two tools that can help you! Gender Decoder for Job Ads is a free option, while textio must be purchased. 

Avoid Jargon & Inside Language

Using complex sentences and words can make some qualified applicants feel unqualified for a position. Assume that candidates do not understand “inside language” and write out sentences that are straight to the point. Focus on writing job descriptions that describe the job overview, responsibilities, and requirements concisely. 

Prioritize Your “Must Haves”

In order to attract candidates with various skills, you must ensure that your requirements for a role are written effectively. Instead of listing out numerous requirements, delete the “Nice to Haves” and include ONLY what is necessary. If you know that there is some flexibility on qualifications, try softening the language. For example, you can use verbiage  like “familiarity with,” “some previous experience in,” and/or “basic knowledge of.” Remember, less is more, especially in this section of your job description. 

Showcase Your Company’s Benefits & Values

If your company offers great benefits, call them out in the job description. Even though not every employee will utilize your benefits package, it’s still important to prove your commitment to your workers, especially in this area. For example, if you have paid family sick time or maternity leave, this will go a long way to show your company’s level of support. 

Another great item to add to your job description is your company’s values or mission statement. This is a way for candidates to get a good idea of what your company cares about and attract people of shared values. If your company has won awards and/or supports specific nonprofits – be sure to highlight them in this section. 

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