6 Ways to Make Your Job Descriptions More Inclusive

6 Ways to Make Your Job Descriptions More Inclusive

June 10, 2021

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Many companies today are striving to cultivate diverse and equitable workforces. Not only does this benefit society from a social justice perspective, but it also benefits the economy, as a diverse workforce is better for business than a homogenous one. Diverse teams lead to increased productivity, innovation, higher financial returns, and better problem-solving techniques.

So, where do you begin? Cultivating a diverse and accepting workplace starts with posting inclusive job descriptions. You want to make sure that every qualified candidate feels safe and encouraged to apply.

If you’re not intentional with your language, it’s easy for unconscious biases to slip into your job posts, resulting in a smaller, less diverse, talent pool. And remember, don’t just use the following suggestions for new job descriptions, make sure to update existing job descriptions as well. Many outdated job ads unintentionally use language that is aggressive, gender-specific, and discriminatory.

1. Use Localized Language

While it’s obvious that a job posting should be in the language native to the market that you are posting in, it may be less obvious to a non-native speaker that there are variations in each language. There is a difference between translation and localization.

For example, the language in a job ad posted in Lisbon, Portugal will read a bit differently than an ad posted in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, even though both are in Portuguese. If you aren’t a native speaker, have someone fluent in the local dialect proofread before posting.

2. Avoid Gender-Coded Words

If the wording in your job description skews too masculine or too feminine, you could be subconsciously telling candidates of a certain gender not to apply, even when that isn’t your intent. While some words are obviously gendered like, “Chairman” or “Policewoman,” others are more subtle. For example, “rockstar”, “competitive”, and “strong” are considered masculine while “patient”, “support”, and “loyal” are considered feminine.

Sites like Textio and Gender Decoder can help by analyzing texts and catching gendered words before you post. Additionally, always use “you” or “they” instead of “she” or “he.” For example, “you will analyze data” rather than, “she will analyze data.”

3. Eliminate Requirements that are not Essential

Women tend to only apply to jobs when they meet 100% of the requirements, while men will apply if they feel they’ve met just 60%. To help remedy this, outline which skills are required vs. which are preferred. Cutting down your requirements list will also make for a shorter job posting, which is overall beneficial for your view to application ratio.

Don’t shy away from nontraditional education backgrounds. Not everyone has the privilege to attend a four-year college. Someone with a bachelor’s degree isn’t necessarily more qualified than someone with their associate’s degree and a coding boot camp under their belt. They need to at least feel encouraged enough to apply for you to learn more about them and their skillset. Lastly, don’t use industry jargon. If someone is applying with transferable skills, they won’t understand jargon upon applying but will learn it on the job.

4. Revise Wording to Include those with Disabilities

Exclusion of, or bias against, people with disabilities is called ableism. To avoid ableism in your job postings, be intentional when describing the position’s requirements. Do you actually need the employee to “walk from station to station” or can they “move from station to station”? Does the role require an individual to “type data into a spreadsheet” or “input/enter/record data into a spreadsheet”?

People with disabilities may get the job done differently than those without a disability, but they’ll still get the job done. And, the creative problem-solving they’ll bring to the table is a bonus.

5. Prevent Literacy Exclusion

Literacy exclusion happens when the wording of a job post is too complex for individuals at certain literacy levels to read. To avoid this, make sure job descriptions are short, to the point, and accessible.

Text should be uncluttered and easy to read for those with cognitive processing issues like dyslexia. 10% of people in the U.S. have dyslexia. That’s a large number of candidates you could discourage from applying by simply using the wrong fonts or wording. The British Dyslexia Association offers a Dyslexia Friendly Style Guide to help you when formatting job posts. Regardless of literacy level, shorter job posts perform better receiving 8.4% more applications per view than medium (301-600 words) or long job posts (601+ words).

6. Emphasize your Company’s Commitment to DE&I.

Encourage candidates from diverse backgrounds to apply by going beyond saying your organization is an equal opportunity employer. Include a personalized statement spelling out that your workplace does not discriminate based on gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, disability, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

Highlight some of your inclusive benefits like parental leave and paid family sick time to showcase that you practice what you preach. Don’t go overboard though; prioritize keeping the posting short and to the point!

Once you’ve finished your job post, have colleagues from a variety of backgrounds proofread it to make sure no unconscious bias slipped in. Make sure to include current employees in the review group as well. Since advertising your open role’s descriptions is one of the first steps in the hiring process, this cannot be downplayed.

Job posts can be a candidate’s first impression of your company. Make sure it’s a welcoming one by using these tips! Looking for additional ways to diversify your talent pool? This Fetcher blog post has additional tips on how to extend your DE&I efforts beyond job descriptions.

About Fetcher

At Fetcher, our mission is to introduce companies to the people who will help them change the world. Our full-service, recruiting automation platform automates those repetitive, top-of-funnel tasks, so you can focus more on candidate engagement & team collaboration. Simplify Sourcing. Optimize Outreach. Hire Top Talent. Learn more at fetcher.ai.

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