How to Write an Inclusive Job Description and Attract Diverse Candidates

How to Write an Inclusive Job Description and Attract Diverse Candidates

Looking at a one-sided job description you don’t apply for can be frustrating. But what if you could reverse that and make everyone welcome? That’s exactly what an inclusive job description does.

An inclusive job description will allow you to attract a diverse pool of candidates.

This is important because a diverse workplace offers better creativity, productivity, and job satisfaction. It will also help you attract more candidates because 67% of job seekers consider a diverse workforce when evaluating companies.

In this article, we’ll look at several ways to write an inclusive job description for attracting a diverse pool of candidates and improving the productivity of your employees.

Remove gender-coded language

The biggest mistake you can make in your job descriptions is using gender pronouns. You must make sure to never address only one gender, i.e. he must be… It’s much better to talk in the second person – i.e you must be – use the plural, or write “he or she”.

But pronouns aren’t the only thing that can make your job description gender-specific.

There are also adjectives that are more oriented to one specific gender. For instance, “strong” and “competitive” might be pleasing for men, while “nurturing” and “supportive” for women.

Make sure to watch out for these gender-oriented pronouns and adjectives.

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Only list essential skills

Don’t overwhelm your candidates with a huge list of job requirements. In fact, it will most likely backfire and discourage candidates from applying to your job.

Did you know that women only apply for a job if they meet 100% requirements? The reason for that is a fear of failure – they don’t want to get rejected.

If you’re a marketing company, don’t have a job description that requires candidates to know unnecessary skills like how to use a WordPress funnel builder and hundreds of other tools. Don’t make your requirements a “Nice To Have” list.

Instead, be realistic and include only essential skills that are required for the job.

Acknowledge you’re being inclusive

Don’t beat around the bush, trying to express that you have an inclusive job description. Instead, don’t be afraid and admit it straight on. You can easily do that by saying something like, “We’re looking for an inclusive workplace anyone can join.”

That’s exactly what IBM and Viacom did in their strategy and it increased the number of applicants that were looking for a job.

You can see exactly what IBM wrote below.

“IBM is committed to creating a diverse environment and is proud to be an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, colour, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, genetics, disability, age, or veteran status.”

Don’t beat around the bush, admit it from the early beginning and make everyone feel welcomed.

Avoid industry-specific jargon

Your job description isn’t there to showcase your technical skills or fancy vocabulary. It’s there to attract potential candidates and that’s why it should be easy to understand and written in plain English.

For instance, if you are in a digital marketing space looking for candidates, you shouldn’t write, “Have a vast knowledge in SEO, CPA, KPIs, lookalike audience, etc.” Instead, simply write, “Experience with sales funnel software.” 

It’s much simpler and won’t scare away half of the candidates like the first one.

That’s why always remember to write your job description in plain English without any technical jargon.

Focus on the goal, not the method

Don’t mention a step-by-step process of the work in the job description.

There are two major problems with this approach. First, giving step-by-step instructions takes the whole flexibility and creativity out of the work. What if your employees have a better or more efficient idea to do a certain task?

You never find out because you never give them an opportunity to show you.

The second thing is that it may discourage potential employees with disabilities. What if they aren’t able to perform the task a certain way? You completely ruin their chances of applying to the job.

Therefore be sure to mention what’s the goal of the work, not the method of doing it.

Don’t make the level of schooling a requirement

If a schooling level isn’t required to perform the job, don’t include it.

Of course, if you are looking to hire a doctor or lawyer, you’ll list it as a requirement. But in today’s world, even a shopkeeper or cleaner needs a college degree. Stop that, it’s totally irrelevant, and let’s face it, school isn’t as important as skills and experience.

Who would you hire from the following two candidates?

An email marketer with a college degree or an email marketer without a degree who doubled the company’s revenues. The second one for sure.

That’s why you shouldn’t make a level of schooling a requirement unless the job requires it.

How to Write an Inclusive Job Description and Attract Diverse Candidates

Image: Pixabay

Seek feedback from others

Always make sure to get your job description checked before putting it out to the world.

You spent a lot of time crafting a job description. But there are a few things you might have missed or overlooked. This is where seeking feedback from others like your employees can come in handy.

It’s especially useful if you have a diverse workplace or disabled employees because they’re the target group of people who are usually turned down by exclusive job descriptions.

Be sure to ask others about your job description and fix errors you would’ve missed.

Avoid age preference

Don’t include words like “young” or “healthy” in your job description. It will discourage older or physically disabled candidates. The opposite is also true. If you write “10+ years of experience with contract management software,” you’ll turn down all younger candidates.

You should remove these phrases whenever you can.

But what if they seem important and you don’t want to get rid of them? Maybe you are really looking for an energetic, younger crowd of candidates or experienced veterans. Then the best option is to rephrase them to be more transparent.

For instance, you could write, “a person who can connect with a youthful demographic,” instead of writing “youthful candidate preferred.”

It will make a huge difference and allow you to have a diverse workplace of employees.

List employment benefits & perks

This is especially useful to show candidates that you care about them and support them.

It’s ideal to showcase benefits in a way that supports a variety of candidates. For instance, younger candidates can be more interested in a learning management system and a free subscription to learning platforms, while senior candidates can fancy paid family sick time.

The options are limitless, but make sure to include these benefits in your job description.

They’ll increase the likelihood of people applying to your job and can be the difference between your company and competitors.

Display a growth mindset

Make it clear that you welcome not only skilled candidates but also those who are still learning and want to get more experience.

Check the tone and style of your job description, too.

Is it strictly professional, looking for the know-it-all candidates, or is it targeting also learners who are motivated to grow and take on a new challenge? If you’re looking to write an inclusive job description, you should be targeting both groups.

“Whether you’re looking to improve your craft or find experienced peers.”

It’ll allow you to attract diverse candidates and make your workplace more inclusive.

Be clear & concise as possible

Your job description shouldn’t be scaringly long.

Don’t try too hard to impress potential employees with your fancy language and overwhelm them with a lot of details. It’ll only discourage them from applying to your job.

But that’s only part of things. There’s another problem with a longer job description…

The longer the job description, the more specific it gets. Unfortunately, this increases the chances that you’ll introduce bias. You’ll start to go into specifics of one’s abilities, characteristics and ideal prerequisites for work, which makes it less inclusive. It will completely ruin the job description.

Remember to be concise and make it short and sweet.

In Summary

Writing an inclusive job description is important for attracting a wider pool of candidates.

Follow the best practices we’ve talked about today, make your job descriptions more inclusive, and ensure that every qualified candidate feels welcomed.

It will help you deepen your candidate pool and give you the benefits of an inclusive workplace.

About the Author

Hanson Cheng is the founder of Freedom to Ascend. He empowers online entrepreneurs and business owners to 10x their business and become financially independent. You can connect with him here.