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How to write an inclusive job advert

A job advert is the first touch point between a prospective candidate and a future employee and therefore a critical window into how inclusive your organisation may be. 

One study has found that the average jobseeker spends 49.7 seconds reviewing a job advert before deciding it’s not a fit for them. Job adverts can perpetuate a particular image of the ‘ideal candidate’, which discourages candidates from diverse backgrounds and circumstances from applying if they feel that they do not fit that image.

To help you attract a diverse pool of candidates, we’ve put together our top 10 tips to writing an inclusive job description:

1.Be mindful of gender-coded language and use of pronouns

Gender-coded words can reduce the number of women applying for your opportunity. When listing the ideal skills and qualities of the ideal candidate, consider whether your choice of language is contributing to a heavily masculine coded advert. Use this Gender Decoder tool so you’re aware of what words to avoid.

On top of this, consider your use of pronouns in your adverts. Ensure that your advert uses gender neutral pronouns such as ‘you’ and ‘they’ instead of ‘he’ or ‘she’.

2. Avoid jargon and corporate language

The use of jargon and corporate language in entry-level roles can make qualified candidates feel unqualified, if they don’t understand the terms and acronyms used on your job advert. Draft each advert with the assumption that the reader doesn’t understand your industry lingo. Ensure that you open up acronyms and include universal wording where applicable, so that those using their transferable skills from other industries feel welcomed to put an application forward.

3. Avoid phrases and requirements which discriminate against older or younger candidates

Only use phrases such as ‘recent graduate’ or ‘highly experienced’ or ask for grades and qualifications, if it is a genuine requirement for the role and really is required for the candidate to succeed.

The use of terms such as ‘digital native’ or ‘tech-savvy’ can also discourage older candidates from applying. If certain technical skills can be taught to the successful candidate while in the role, avoid making it seem like a prerequisite in the job advert.

Ensure that your advert uses gender neutral pronouns such as ‘you’ and ‘they’ instead of ‘he’ or ‘she’.

4. Ensure your job advert is formatted in an accessible way 

When formatting your job advert, ensure your choice of font and colours are accessible for those with dyslexia. The British Dyslexia Association advises using san serif fonts such as Arial, Verdana, or Calibri as these are easier to read. Along with this, avoid using underlining and italics, but instead use bold if you wish to emphasise something.

Also consider using other methods, such as audio recordings, larger fonts and braille.

5. Avoid phrases and requirements which perpetuate racial or faith bias

Avoid phrases which can read as perpetuating negative racial, cultural, or faith stereotypes. Avoid using phrases such as ‘strong English-language skills’ as this may discourage non-native English speakers and avoid phrases such as ‘do you want to join our gang?’ which can have negative racial connotations.

Avoid phrases in your advert which can read as perpetuating negative racial, cultural, or faith stereotypes.

6. Include the relevant skills

Women will typically only apply for a job if they meet 100% of the qualifications, while men are likely to apply to jobs for which they meet only 60% of the qualifications.  To encourage women to apply, ensure that you keep your job advert brief and remove requirements which are not necessary for the role or that can be taught through training.

7. Include benefits and provisions

As well as including any required skills and information, make sure your job postings are welcoming to candidates of all abilities and circumstances. You can do this by clearly outlining the provisions and benefits included as being part of the company, including flexible working hours and childcare provision. Making these clear at the first touch point as opposed to candidates having to ask will encourage more people to apply knowing they are welcome to.

8. Include transparent job details

Set out your expectations for the recruitment process clearly; ensure candidates are aware of application deadlines, what is needed to put forward an application, salaries, and timelines. Transparency around salaries is particularly important to help ensure that candidates from all backgrounds are paid the same amount for the same role.

9. Emphasise your commitment to Diversity and Inclusion

Consider stating your commitment to Diversity and Inclusion in the job advert. Let applicants know you have taken strides to become a more welcoming and inclusive workplace and direct them to any initiatives or reports to demonstrate this.

10. No trick questions

Be open about the process; what questions you might ask in an interview; what a task (if you’re setting one) will be; who will be conducting the interviews. You’re trying to get the best out of people, not trip them up!

Good luck!