With unemployment continuing to hover at record lows, HR is often in a bind—how do they attract not only qualified candidates, but also an inclusive slate of candidates? The answer might lie in your job descriptions. If you are just recycling existing boilerplate copy—a common practice in today’s busy world—you might want to rethink your postings to make them more dynamic in order to bolster your applications. Here are some tips.
- Use words that are more inclusive.
Studies show that more diverse workplaces lead to better outcomes, but all too often companies have trouble attracting a diverse slate of candidates. Your job descriptions could be to blame. Here is how to foster inclusivity for:
- Gender: A LinkedIn report found stark differences in how men and women responded to words in job descriptions. For example, the word “aggressive” turned off 44% of women, but only one-third of men. Other words that women tended to shy away from are “demanding” and “powerful.”
- Age: The “Ageism and Hiring” report from the Association of Talent Acquisition Professionals warns that phrases such as “digital native” and “passionate about social media” can scare off older applicants.
- People with disabilities: Some job descriptions contain a laundry list of requirements like “must be able to lift 25 pounds” and “must be able to climb stairs.” Sure, some jobs might require that, but often it’s just boilerplate language that can deter candidates. Just for fun, search Indeed.com for “25 pounds” and see the wide range of jobs that include that caveat. Surely, someone else could be called on to lift heavy boxes of office supplies in an administrative position. Take a minute to read through your job posting and see if there is any language that might turn off employees with disabilities.
And for all candidates, consider the words you use to describe your environment. The LinkedIn report offers some replacements that are softer and thus more inviting, such as “fast-paced,” rather than “pressured.” Other words to add to describe your workplace include “supportive,” and “flexible,” which appeals to 60% of women, but also half of men.
- Include the salary.
Many companies don’t want to tip their hand regarding salary, but it actually can save a lot of time. After all, if you’re thinking $50,000, and a specific candidate is looking for double that, it’s going to be hard to find a way to meet in the middle. In the long run, it would be better to save your time and energy for sifting through the qualifications of the applicants who are more likely to eventually accept the role if offered.
This is also an important way to show that your company is committed to fair pay practices. Another LinkedIn survey found that nearly 70% of women find the salary and benefits information to be the most important component of a job description.
- Don’t worry about longer job descriptions.
One job description that was recently lauded in a story in the Wall Street Journal comes from Basecamp. The lengthy posting gives information about what projects the team has recently undertaken, as well as ideal candidate qualities. For example: “You can expect a mindful onboarding process with ramp-up and time to learn. You can expect a team that listens, and to be heard. You can expect to give and provide direct feedback. You can expect to be counted on. … A strong track record of conscientious, thoughtful work speaks volumes.”
As you can see, the posting makes the workplace sound engaging, but it also indicates that slackers need not apply to be successful in this environment.
Take the time to give all the information that potential candidates might want in order to save everyone time and frustration.
- Don’t rely on job postings to be your only outlet for recruiting.
Today’s candidates have more information at their fingertips than ever before, so it can be challenging to try to erase a poor work environment that’s being discussed online. As an HR executive, it’s wise to pay attention to what is being said about your company at sites like Glassdoor.com. While you can’t delete the postings, you can read them as you would a negative customer review, and determine if you should respond and/or if the problem they are airing deserves addressing. Seeking frequent feedback from your existing team can help make sure that you are handling issues as they arise.
Also spend time actually creating the workplace that candidates will flock to, and use your company website and social media accounts to share the message. Post photos of teams volunteering and make sure your diversity is reflected in the images you choose to post.
After all, there is no substitute for the truth in today’s transparent environment.