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Crafting inclusive job descriptions is mission-critical to your hiring strategy. 

Your job descriptions are often the first communication a potential candidate sees from your company, making them especially important for creating a good first impression. Plus, inclusive job descriptions on average fill 10% faster across all demographic groups

Inclusive job descriptions show candidates that you, their next potential employer, are looking for the best and brightest – regardless of race, gender, or other representation groups. 

More diversity in your hiring pipeline means a more inclusive workforce. More inclusion also leads to increased productivity, higher employee retention, and accelerated product innovation.

So, how do you make your job descriptions inclusive? Follow these five best practices:

1. Use neutral language

Eliminating gendered words and avoiding cultural slang will allow you to cast a wider net of potential applicants.

Gendered language only attracts a certain kind of applicant. Instead of using words like “he” or “she,” speak directly to all potential candidates in the job description by using second-person, “you.”

Additionally, it’s recommended to avoid any words that can be seen as cultural slang, like “rock star,” “wizard,” or “guru.” These terms might not resonate with diverse applicants, and might lead them to avoid applying altogether. Instead, just stick with clear job titles like “marketing director,” “product manager,” or “sales representative.”

2. Be flexible with must-haves

One of the first things an applicant looks at is the skills required for a position. Before they invest the time to learn more about your company’s role, they want to know if their skills match. 

If your job descriptions include a laundry list of requirements in hopes of attracting the “perfect-fit,” you run the risk of scaring away top candidates who may have untraditional backgrounds.

This is supported by a study from Hewlett Packard, which found that women tend to only apply for a position if they meet 100% requirements for the role, whereas men apply if they meet only 60% of the requirements. 
To avoid a lack of female applicants, be flexible. Only write what a candidate truly must have. Then, after a shortlist of requirements, add a section of “nice-to-haves.”

3. Emphasize DEI

If you want your candidates to understand your company champions diversity, equity, and inclusion, the best thing you can do is to communicate that in your job descriptions. 

Do you have an established mentorship program for underrepresented groups? Or have you initiated an equal pay policy and a structured promotion roadmap? 

Include a paragraph or two in the job description about your DEI initiatives and explain why DEI is important in your organization. These are some of the questions candidates want to have answered.

4. Include age and disability

Thirty-five percent of workers were born before the internet. But recently there have been an increasing number of job descriptions with ageist language. 

Phrases like “digital natives,” “young talent,” and “go-getters” might be common, but they also could be discouraging to experienced candidates. Organizations that include this language in their descriptions might miss out on applications from tenured professionals.

The same goes for candidates with disabilities. We suggest avoiding phrases like “must walk, stand, and lift 50lbs.” Instead, leverage more inclusive words like “must move, be upright, and hold up to 50lbs.” 

5. Share salary ranges

A salary range is one of the first things a candidate looks for in a listing, since salary is obviously a crucial component of any job search. 

Candidates prefer to see the salary range before even applying, and some won’t give a company a second look if the salary range isn’t included in a listing. This unfortunately reduces the number of potential candidates right from the start.

The last thing you want is to schedule an interview with an exciting candidate, only to find out they need $20k more than you’re able to pay. That’s time wasted for everybody.
With roughly 50% of US companies not highlighting salary ranges, doing so is a great way to stand out from your competition.

Inclusion makes a better team

A team of individuals empowered to come to work as their authentic selves is the key to a thriving organization in our rapidly changing world.

Inclusion starts at the beginning—with your job descriptions. 

We recommend reviewing your current job descriptions. You may be surprised at how much non-inclusive language may be lurking there. Seek these mistakes out, update them, and watch your pipeline grow.

Author bio

Victoria Hortman is the Global People Operations Manager at Mogul, a talent acquisition platform that works to create diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Mogul is proud to be the founder of International ERG Day. We created International ERG Day (November 17) to celebrate and amplify the voices of ERGs across industries.

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