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Creating inclusive job descriptions to drive diversity recruiting

Recruiters and hiring teams know the talent market better than anyone. After all, you’re working to source, engage, and nurture talent every single day—not just new talent, but existing employees, too. With this knowledge, you’re able to provide insights into things like job descriptions, salary expectations, competitor recruiting, internal mobility, and much more. 

What about inclusivity, though? From the perspective of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), job descriptions can give further insight into organizational culture and a company’s approach to DEI. If a job description is a candidate’s first real look inside your company, then the description must be inclusive of all. 

A diverse workforce benefits everyone—and it’s not just good for your business, it is good business. Let’s consider a few facts about diverse workforces that showcase why diversity recruiting is crucial: 

For recruiters, ensuring that job descriptions and postings are inclusive is part of marketing your organization to top talent—but candidates appreciate it, too. Let’s take a look at how you can create a truly inclusive job description.

Creating inclusive job descriptions

It’s fair to say that diversity recruiting can have a substantial impact on the success of a company—and what better place to start than with your job descriptions? We’re going to walk you through 6 tips to help you write inclusive job descriptions.

Start by addressing gender coding in your job descriptions

Gender coding refers to signals, such as words, phrases, or traits, that have been historically associated with or attributed to either the male or female gender. Gender coding occurs in recruiting messaging far more often than you may think and can create a false impression as to who the ideal candidate is for a role. 

It can be a tough pill to swallow, but if your job descriptions are ‘coded’ too heavily towards any gender, it can influence who does or doesn’t apply, effectively alienating talent right out of the gate—regardless of skills or qualifications. 

By addressing gender coding first, you can better craft descriptions and job postings that don’t skew towards a specific gender, even unintentionally. 

Take Hypercontext, for example. The company forgoes the traditional ‘fit’ aspect to focus on inclusive language that welcomes all applicants, not just those from specific backgrounds, perspectives, or prescribed genders. 

“At Hypercontext, we approach job descriptions with internal mobility and external inclusivity in mind. For example, we include language that combats any apprehension candidates have, especially those who would be categorized as POC or womxn. It’s no secret that minorities are less likely to apply to roles that they’re qualified (or nearly qualified) for because we find ways to convince ourselves that there are better candidates out there. That’s definitely been the case for me many times throughout my career. So, to combat this we use excerpts like the following to ensure that our JDs are always inclusive both to internal employees and external candidates.”Hiba Amin, Senior Marketing Manager at Hypercontext

This leads us to our next point…

Use gender-neutral language

We talked about humanizing job descriptions earlier on in this guide, and the same lesson goes for the language you use in your descriptions. While we all have preferred pronouns, leveraging gendered pronouns in job descriptions is a sure-fire way of excluding pools of candidates who may otherwise be qualified for the role. For example, if you’re hiring a Senior Developer, language like, “He will design, code, test, and implement our solutions,” gives job seekers the impression that the role is geared towards male applicants. Instead, “You will design, code, text, and implement our solutions,” helps you avoid gender bias while also giving the impression that you’re speaking directly to the candidate. 

Use inclusive language, too

Gendered pronouns are not the only words that can subtly yet quickly deter candidates from applying to a role. How you phrase your job description can also have an impact—for example, it’s not uncommon for certain terms or job titles (like that example of a “Rockstar” we used earlier) to signal male-dominated cultures, while seemingly harmless language like “ambitious” or “competitive” can alienate women candidates. Being cognizant of how language can implicate bias towards certain groups or genders can help you avoid crafting discriminatory descriptions. 

Forego requirements and “must-haves” 

The notion that there is a “perfect” candidate for every role is outdated and disregards a person’s ability to learn new skills, adapt to a new environment, and adopt knowledge as they go. In reality, most of the “must-haves” listed in job descriptions are nice-to-haves or skills that can be learned while in a role. In the case of inclusivity, focusing too heavily on requirements or necessary skills/experience can alienate top candidates. 

Remember that diversity includes disabilities, too

When focusing on making your job descriptions as inclusive as possible, don’t forget about candidates with physical and cognitive disabilities. It’s not uncommon for a job posting to include language that’s inclusive of age, race, or gender, but exclusive of those with disabilities. For example, stating that a candidate “Must be able to lift 50 pounds” is exclusive, while “Moves equipment up to 50 pounds” removes the “how” aspect and focuses instead on what needs to be accomplished in a role. Ensure your job descriptions aren’t alienating talent with disabilities—seen and unseen. 

Drop the jargon

Job descriptions littered with jargon (whether industry- or company-specific) can be problematic when sourcing talent from different avenues, especially outside of your primary industry. Many candidates have transferable skills from other industries they may assume won’t convert based on the language you use. A rule of thumb is to avoid using jargon altogether, but if you have to—for example, if you’re hiring for a role that requires the use of specific tech or tool types—spell out things, acronyms,  or describe the jargon in plain speak for candidates. 

Inclusion happens at all stages of your recruiting—and our eGuide can help

When it comes to cultivating a diverse, equitable, inclusive workplace, many teams don’t know where to begin. It’s easy to commit to in writing, but it’s much harder to make concrete improvements to your company culture and recruiting practices. This guide contains key strategies to help teams start making visible progress today. At Lever, after baking DEI initiatives into our decisions from the beginning, we’ve learned both what works and what doesn’t.

This content was originally published here.

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