How to Write Better Job Descriptions to Attract Top Talent
Inclusive language is more important now than ever before, especially in the recruiting process – and especially in creative jobs. As greater emphasis is put on diversity and equality in the workplace (for example, three in four job seekers want to work for diverse companies), companies in creative and technology industries must act to create welcoming and inclusive work environments.
However, many companies still struggle with using language that is unintentionally exclusive, which can turn away potential applicants from underrepresented groups. Indeed, this could be the root cause of the top hiring challenges in recruiting creative talent.
In this article, we answer some key questions that will help your business attract the talent it needs through the power of inclusive language. We’ll start with, “What is inclusive language?”
What Is Inclusive Language in Hiring?
Inclusive language is free from biases and stereotypes. It is language that is used in a way that does not exclude or marginalize any particular group of people. It centers on respect, empathy, and understanding, considering the feelings and experiences of all people.
By using inclusive language, companies can show they are committed to creating a workplace that is welcoming to people from all walks of life, and irrespective of bias against race, gender, sexuality, etc. This can help attract a more diverse talent pool of applicants and create a more equal and inclusive working environment.
Additionally, inclusive language in job descriptions can also help to reduce bias in the hiring process, as it sets clear expectations for the type of language and behavior that is acceptable in the workplace.
Common Examples of Exclusive Language in Job Descriptions
It can be challenging to identify exclusive language. This is because it is often embedded in how we speak. It’s not that we deliberately use language that delivers negative impressions around issues of inequality, but that we do so unintentionally.
When we talk to others, deliver speeches or presentations, or interview job candidates, we should consider the words, phrases, or expressions we use and think if they could be deemed as biased, stereotypical, or insensitive to certain groups of people. This type of language can create barriers for underrepresented groups and send the message that they are not welcome in the workplace.
A few examples of exclusive language commonly used in job descriptions include:
- ‘He/him’ instead of using gender-neutral pronouns
- ‘Macho,’ ‘tough,’ or ‘assertive’ instead of ‘confident’ or ‘decisive’
- ‘Go-getter’ instead of ‘driven’ or ‘ambitious’
- ‘Master’ or ‘guru’ instead of ‘expert’ or ‘specialist’
- ‘Ninja’ or ‘rockstar’ instead of ‘expert’ or ‘talented’
To remove offending exclusive language from job descriptions, we need to be proactive about using inclusive language to all individuals.
How to Use Inclusive Language in Job Descriptions
We can make job descriptions more intentionally inclusive by avoiding language that is exclusive or unintentionally exclusive. Doing so demonstrates commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
Here are five tips to get started:
- Use gender-neutral pronouns such as ‘they/them’ or ‘ze/zir’
- Avoid using words or phrases that are overly gendered or that reinforce gender stereotypes
- Use language that is inclusive of individuals with disabilities, such as ‘accessibility’ instead of ‘handicap’
- Use language that is respectful of all races, ethnicities, and cultures, such as ‘multicultural’ instead of ‘minority’
- Use language that is inclusive of individuals with diverse sexual orientations and gender identities, such as ‘gender expression’ instead of ‘gender identity’
By following these simple guidelines, job descriptions will immediately become more inclusive and appealing to a greater diversity of applicants – though these suggestions are by no means exhaustive.
Why Hiring Companies Need to Use Inclusive Language in Job Descriptions
Research has found that the words we use in job descriptions greatly impact applications. Further, there is a large and growing body of evidence that demonstrates that diverse companies outperform. For example, in its May 2020 publication ‘Diversity wins (How inclusion matters)’, McKinsey & Company note:
“Our 2019 analysis finds that companies in the top quartile of gender diversity on executive teams were 25 percent more likely to experience above-average profitability than peer companies in the fourth quartile. This is up from 21 percent in 2017 and 15 percent in 2014.
“Moreover, we found that the higher the representation, the higher the likelihood of outperformance. Companies with more than 30 percent women on their executive teams are significantly more likely to outperform those with between 10 and 30 percent women, and these companies in turn are more likely to outperform those with fewer or no women executives. As a result, there is a substantial performance differential—48 percent—between the most and least gender-diverse companies.”
Teams with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives are more innovative and creative, and they are better equipped to understand and serve diverse customer populations. By attracting a diverse pool of applicants through the use of inclusive language, companies can build stronger and more competitive teams that drive better business outcomes.
Relieve the DEI Struggle in Your Business
In summary, inclusive language is increasingly important in the recruitment process, especially in creative and technology industries.
When we use inclusive language that is free from biases and stereotypes, we demonstrate a commitment to creating a workplace that is welcoming to people from all backgrounds. Ensuring we use inclusive language in job descriptions helps to attract a more diverse pool of applicants and create a more equal and inclusive workplace. It also reduces bias in the hiring process, and sets clear expectations for acceptable language and behavior in the workplace.
By hiring a more diverse workforce, we can develop stronger and more competitive teams with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives that drive better business outcomes.
We understand how challenging it can be to ensure that hiring processes and recruitment fits in with a company’s DEI strategy. We have helped many companies to overcome these challenges, and continue to do so.
Do you need help to hire more diverse and inclusive talent into your team?
Get in touch – we’ll be happy to share our experience and expertise.