When you picture your company’s “top talent,” what does it look like? If your workforce generally consists of individuals from similar backgrounds, it may be time to look at inequities in your recruitment process to determine where you’re losing quality, diverse talent. You may be surprised to find that it could be the language you’re using in your job descriptions.
Let us help you! Take a look below at some of the top mistakes we see when reviewing job descriptions for exclusionary phrasing.
Eliminate implicit bias
The first and arguably the most impactful on our list is bias. Implicit bias is typically is an aversion or held stereotype against a specific demographic or population. The key here – it’s unconscious! You don’t realize you’re adding it in. For an in-depth look at the different forms of bias – like racial, religious, age, ability, socio-economic and gender – check out our recent article here.
Consider degree inflation
We’re sure you’ve seen it. A job description indicates an entry-level position that requires no real education and experience but still lists a degree as an eligibility requirement. This is connected to the number of job seekers significantly outpacing the number of available jobs after the recession we say in the late 2000s. But now, in a world where we have millions of more jobs than people to fill them, arbitrary degree requirements for jobs that traditionally require less formal education is severely limiting an employer’s applicant pool. Additionally, it’s hurting the equitability of your applicant pool by denying quality talent the opportunity to apply. When initiating the hiring process and visualizing your ideal candidate, we urge you to look thoroughly at your job description and determine if a degree is genuinely necessary to accomplish day-to-day tasks and go from there.
Add your diversity & inclusion statement
Does your company already have a dedication to supporting diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace? Great! Include it in your job description. Proactively reviewing your job description and screening for limitations that may deter quality applicants is a great first step to eliminate unconscious bias, but going a step further as to explicitly display to candidates that you’re invested in workplace equity can only benefit the diversity of your applicant pool – even if it’s not something they’re consciously seeking out.
Why should you do it? Because positions that highlight a commitment to diversity are filled 10% faster, according to Textio. But, let us be clear – this goes beyond just your equal opportunity employment statement. Instead, you should outline your commitment and inclusive workplace by including a personalized statement that is specific to your organization. You can also share details around your established initiatives and include a call to action along the lines of, “we encourage members of underrepresented populations to apply.” Not only will you improve your candidate pool, you may just find yourself taking down your help wanted sign a little faster than expected.
This one is simple! It’s easy to want to add in all of the qualities that you want from an ideal candidate, but some of those characteristics aren’t actually necessary for the job. When writing your job description, think critically about what skills are required and which are preferred, and then try to stick to only the must haves.
Why is this important? Diverse candidates may be discouraged from applying to job openings with a laundry list of requirements. Though they may have skills necessary to accomplish the job at hand, if they don’t meet the required experience to a T, they may not feel qualified. If we’re looking at female candidates in particular, they will refrain from applying until they meet 100% of the qualifications compared to 60% from their male counterparts. Why? It’s not because they don’t think they can do the job; It’s because they don’t want to waste their time applying for a role where they may have a less than 10% chance of receiving an interview, on average. Limiting your requirements section to your critical qualifications will increase your number of applicants.
Consider your travel requirements
We understand that so many jobs simply don’t exist without some travel, however infrequent. Even jobs that have no built in travel within their day-to-day responsibilities may still include travel for professional development opportunities, like annual conferences. But, it’s important to be mindful of the amount of travel you’re indicating in your description.
If your default is to include 10-20% travel in your description to cover professional development, that roughly equals about 3-5 weeks away from the office per year. This can be concerning for applicants who have challenges with child or elder care. Ensure that your travel estimates accurately reflect what is required of the positions so candidates have a solid understanding and can plan accordingly.
Include opportunities for flexible work
We’re not saying go fully remote – but if there is an opportunity for applicants to take late lunches, work from home, start earlier or come in later, or any other accommodation, it can greatly improve the likelihood of talented individuals converting to applicants. In fact, 40% of candidates say that flexible work opportunities are a top-three factor for their job search according to a study from ManpowerGroup Solutions.
Including language around the flexibility that you can accommodate signals to applicants that your company understands that employees have lives outside of their work and gives quality insight to the culture you’re sustaining. In fact, the comfort of knowing that their needs can be accommodated can improve employee morale and support retention long term.
Include salary range and benefit information
Descriptions that lack transparency regarding pay and benefits will generally see fewer applications than those who do. When an applicant is dependent on quality employment benefits or needs a certain salary to sustain their standard of living, they won’t want to risk leaving money and benefits on that table by applying for jobs that don’t include basic information related to salary and benefits.
Why is this important? According to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, “nearly two-thirds (61%) of women would take an organization’s gender pay gap into consideration when applying for jobs.” Factoring in that Women of Color earn up to 47 cents less for every dollar than their white male counterparts, when your description lacks information related to pay, you’re automatically excluding diverse and underrepresented populations.
We’ve briefly walked through some of the main, stand-out reasons that you may be excluding some populations from applying to your jobs, but it doesn’t stop here. The list of opportunities to improve your job descriptions to attract a more diverse talent pool are ever-changing, so don’t be afraid to keep learning and refining.
We’ll dive a little deeper into equity in the workplace, the Talent Partnership, and more through a series of blogs. If workforce development sparks your interest and you’d like to learn more, don’t forget to follow along! Have specific questions? Reach out to Taylor Davis, Director of the Wichita Falls Talent Partnership & Military Liaison at firstname.lastname@example.org.