How to write effective and inclusive job descriptions

How to write effective and inclusive job descriptions

In a candidate-driven market, attracting top talent can be challenging and makes every touch point of the hiring process critical, including the job description. The job description provides a blueprint for the candidate to imagine their role with a company, encouraging them to, or discouraging them from, applying to a position. By leveraging technology and psychology to redesign job descriptions, you can attract a more diverse pool of job-and-culture fit candidates.

Focus on candidates’ needs, not organization’s wants

There are various approaches for describing the background and skill set needed in a job description. The demands-ability (D-A) model simply lists the qualifications for the position, only describing what you’re seeking from the potential employee, which can cost you qualified candidates.

Contrastingly, the needs-supplies (N-S) approach focuses on the needs of the candidate, rather than those of the organization. Needs-supplies refers to the degree to which the needs of the individual employee, such as the need to use and develop their skills, are supplied by the work environment and opportunities are available to satisfy the needs of the individual.

A study published in the Journal of Business and Psychology found that job ads that focus on the candidate’s needs receive 3 times as many applications and a higher quality candidate pool. So how do you craft a N-S job description?

  • Focus on the benefits the organization can provide for the candidate.
  • Avoid long lists of job responsibilities.
  • Tie the position to the organization by emphasizing how the job will help accomplish overarching business objectives.
  • Show candidates your organization invests in its employees by highlighting opportunities for career growth, development, and autonomy.

Use universally appealing language

The design of job descriptions can improve the diversity of the candidate pool. Gender plays an important role in how language is interpreted in job descriptions because certain words resonate with men more than women, and vice versa.

A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology revealed that women refrain from applying to jobs with descriptions that use masculine words. The study found that “women deterred from masculinely worded jobs, finding them less appealing and interesting, compared with the same types of jobs advertised with feminine wording” because of perceptions of belongingness, not perceived skill.

As noted in an Forbes article on “How to take gender out of you job ads,” it is unlikely that certain words will stop being associated with certain genders in the near future; however, to reach a more diverse candidate pool, you can simply rewrite job descriptions to reduce gender bias. Textio is an online tool that analyzes job descriptions and suggests improvements to make the language more appealing to all applicants. Similarly, Gender Decoder for Job Ads that highlights gendered wording and identifies if a post is masculine- or feminine-coded.

Unlock the power of video

“Our office offers a unique work environment that is innovative, electric, open, and collaborative.”

Describing what it’s really like to work at your organization can be challenging – no matter how many vivid adjectives you use – but incorporating videos into job descriptions can help. Video job descriptions do not replace the traditional text format; however, they can boost candidate engagement and interest, while providing a different perspective of the team culture, company brand, and physical office space. The combination of the written and video job description can help candidates imagine their “day in the life” as an employee to help better ensure the job is a technical and cultural fit for them. Additionally, allowing a candidate to see, hear, and feel the culture of your organization can give you an advantage over the less engaging job descriptions of your competitors.

If creating a job-specific video for each opening is not realistic for your team, you can simply create a company-wide employment branding video that features your employees and office space and can be added to all job descriptions.

Crafting an appealing, accurate, and non-alienating job description requires you to go beyond the traditional bulleted list of needed requirements and provide an effective and inclusive preview of the position that is welcoming and motivating to a candidate.

2
Leave a Reply

avatar
2 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
1 Comment authors
Brian Dooley Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
trackback

[…] bias is both a hurdle in bringing diversity to a workplace and creating a comfortable work environment. Thankfully, research has proven that workplaces can […]

Brian Dooley
Guest
Brian Dooley

This is such a needed perspective, as our outdated job descriptions often focus on excluding candidates vs. including candidates. In today’s recruiting environment, now more than ever, skills-based hiring should be a focus for hiring teams.

Subscribe To Personify Insights

Professionally cultivated tips and tricks for the HR professional, from our office to yours. Personify Insights provides industry news and personalized content to your inbox each week. 

You have Successfully Subscribed!

7 Shares
Read previous post:
Know Yourself, Know Your Work

It’s 5 p.m. on a Wednesday. You and your coworkers have been sitting in a brainstorming session for more than...

Close