Job descriptions - how important is the language you use?

Could top talent be self-rejecting from your application process? Complying to best practices when structuring your job descriptions is essential but should you be applying the same care and attention to the words you’re using in them? It’s important to use inclusive language so you can cast the net wide and attract a large pool of diverse candidates. Do you know the lyrical blunders that could be tripping you up? 

Gendered language 

According to Hewlett Packard, men will apply for a job when they meet 60% of the qualifications, but women will only apply if they meet 100% of them. It’s important to bear this in mind when you are considering which traits should be listed as desirable or as a must-have. But, is masculine language also deterring top talent from applying to your roles?

Phrases such as “fast-paced environment”, “driven person” and “high-performance culture” attract a higher number of male applicants. Whereas “comfortably”, “empathetic” and “lasting relationships”, statistically attract a higher volume of female applicants. Try using neutral language so as not to alienate anyone. It’s not common to use pronouns in job descriptions, but if you have used them, double-check that you’ve used “you” or “s/he”. Tools like Eploy allow you to paste your copy in and scan for unconscious gender bias, length and recruitment best practices.

Superlatives do not attract the best person for the job

Over-embellished or exaggerated wording can put off passive or introverted candidates. Aim for words that promote collaborative teams rather than competitive dog-eat-dog teams to attract a mixture of personality types.      

Are you saying what you want to about your culture? 

When describing your culture, when do you run the risk of sounding like a cult? Avoid describing your organisation as being “like a family”. People already have their own families, plus families are famously dysfunctional. “Work hard, play hard” could deter people who work hard but don’t necessarily want to play hard, it gives off the impression of an old-fashioned, Wolf of Wall Street culture, which as a society we have moved beyond. 

Make sure you are clear about your company vision, purpose and values. If you don’t have these in place then get them in place, these are the core pillars of your culture. If you include these in the job description then you will attract the right fit and deter the wrong. Ask your existing employees to describe the culture and use the adjectives straight from the horse’s mouth.

Video stars

82% of job seekers believe the ideal recruiting interaction is a mix between innovative technology and personal, human interaction. A video job ad allows you to describe the role and company more conversationally, it’s easier to convey enthusiasm and general feel of the business over video than it is in the written word.

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