How to create effective and inclusive job ads: 4 tips – Natural Self Esteem

In a hiring market where competition for talent is fierce, companies cannot afford to overlook the importance of job posting language.

To make meaningful progress on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, organizations need to focus on the beginning of the employee journey and review the text in their job listings. Recruiters should avoid terms that may alienate female and black candidates, including phrases like “rock star,” which lead most readers to imagine a white male. Improving the language of job ads is an important step in creating an inclusive workplace.

“The more inclusive your job posting, the more likely you are to attract candidates from diverse backgrounds,” said Judy Ellis, senior vice president of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory at AMS, a global talent acquisition and consulting firm based in New York London.

Here’s how recruiters can create inclusive job ads.

1. Familiarize yourself with exclusionary words

Certain vocabulary and terms work against a heterogeneous group of candidates.

Dealing with gender-specific coding is an important aspect.

Organizations should “de-gender” their job listings by removing words like “he” and “she,” said Julie Coffman, chief diversity officer at Bain & Company Inc., a global consulting firm based in Boston. She encourages companies to omit pronouns altogether.

“In a gender-segregated society, using pronouns is not your friend,” Coffman said.

“Expert” is another word companies should avoid as it lacks clarity, she said. One person may refer to an individual who has led a team of 10 as an expert, while another person defines them as a C-suite level executive responsible for leading an organization of 10,000 people.

“It’s not as tangible or concrete as saying, ‘I’m looking for someone who’s been a daily newspaper writer for five years because I feel like that experience would be reflected in what we’re looking to hire for in this magazine.’ . ‘ Coffman said.

“Rock star” is another commonly used term that affects inclusion, she said. For many, “Rockstar” conjures up the image of a white man rather than, say, a black woman.

The more inclusive your job posting, the more likely you are to attract candidates from diverse backgrounds.

Judy EllisSenior Vice President of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory, AMS

Recruiters should keep in mind that potential candidates may interpret some adjectives in ways that the recruiters did not intend.

A participant in a focus group of Black and Hispanic professionals identified the word “excellent” — in the context of “excellent writing ability” — as problematic, Ellis said. The participant graduated from university at the top of his class but said he received a C in English as an undergraduate. He assumed the grade wasn’t good enough for the organization.

The word Excellentlike arguably all adjectives, is vague and subjective.

“[A candidate] may not consider themselves excellent, although they may meet the standard of what a company might consider excellent,” she said.

There are also big differences in how one discusses one’s accomplishments. For example, some cultures see it as a boast to claim excellence.

2. Omit non-essential job requirements

Anyone trying to create integrative job descriptions must consider what skills are really necessary for the position to be filled.

Many organizations fill out ads with qualification requirements that are nice to have rather than specific skills that directly apply to the position, Ellis said. For example, if a job does not require 10 years of experience in the field, then this attribute should not appear in the job posting.

Traditionally, many companies require a university degree. But as the concept of transferrable skills and inclusion becomes more important, this convention may fall by the wayside.

Coffman’s company challenges both itself and its clients to review job postings that state the need for a four-year college degree, she said. A candidate does not need a college education to take on entry-level positions such as administrative assistant or data entry.

“[Requiring a college degree] can weed out a whole bunch of people who might have absolutely wonderful skills and abilities that we need to hire in the workforce to drive growth, prosperity and obviously a more inclusive and diverse workforce,” she said.

Recruiters should also consider requirements that focus on physical ability when creating inclusive job ads.

A commonly cited job requirement — whether it’s appropriate for the job — is “the ability to lift 30 pounds,” Ellis said.

“If someone is in a wheelchair, they might not be able to lift 30 pounds and they wouldn’t apply for that role,” she said.

If the advertised job is a warehouse position, being able to lift 30 pounds can make sense as a job requirement, but most office jobs don’t involve heavy lifting, she said.

Job ad creators can help readers focus on what’s really important through brevity, and the practice has a benefit for employers.

Creating concise job postings can help increase the number of applicants, Ellis said.

“The longer [a job ad] is, the fewer applicants apply,” she said. When fewer applicants respond to a job posting, the company’s access to a diverse talent pool is further reduced, she said.

3. Match the conditions to the correct geographic area

In order to appeal to a diverse talent pool, recruiters must ensure that the terms and expressions in the job posting are easy to read for the targeted geographic location.

“Some language that really resonates in the UK and Ireland may not resonate in the US or APAC countries,” Ellis said. “You want to check for clarity and whether your phrases fit you regionally.”

Organizations should also avoid using flowery marketing language and idioms that could confuse candidates for whom English is a second language, Ellis said.

For example, saying that a candidate should be “on the ball” can be confusing to non-native English speakers.

4. Use technology but understand its limitations

Technology can support a DEI initiative, including ensuring that job postings do not contain biased language or otherwise exclude potential candidates.

A number of software platforms, including Grammarly Business, Jasper, Semrush, Textio and Writer, may be able to support the creation of inclusive job ads, Ellis said. These tools incorporate AI and automation to help hiring managers and hiring managers set requirements that are appropriate for the advertised position, remove potentially confusing language, and remove non-inclusive language.

Recruiters and job ad creators shouldn’t rely solely on technology for DEI support.

While some tools can really help create more inclusive job ads, they won’t fix a culture that lacks diversity and inclusion.

“Technology can make sure you don’t use words that inadvertently discriminate, but if you’re not aware of actively breaking prejudice, technology isn’t really going to solve your problem,” said Peter Brooks, Northrop’s vice president of talent acquisition Grumman, an aerospace and defense technology company based in Falls Church, Virginia.

Promoting diversity and inclusion is far more than a people responsibility, Brooks said. It leads to better performing companies.

“There is ample evidence that diverse companies outperform non-diverse companies,” he said. “There is a moral imperative, but there is also a very practical element that is essential if you want to optimize the performance of your business.”

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