Watch your language
So, you’ve got a job vacancy to fill? Fantastic news! It’s time to write a killer job advert that will make this job sound amazing, make your organisation sound amazing and attract top talent. The best of the best. The crème de la crème. After all, that’s what a job advert is all about.
But before you put pen to paper, let me ask you one thing: Have you considered the language you’re going to use? Because you might want to give it some thought.
Are you looking for an ‘ambitious leader’ and ‘effective decision-maker’? Someone who is ‘dynamic’ and ‘logical’? Are you looking for someone who is ‘supportive’, ‘committed’ or ‘sympathetic’?
The chances are you’re just looking for the best person for the job, but your choice of words can actually have the potential to alienate some of the best candidates from applying.
A recent report from Appcast, a global leader in programmatic recruitment technology, found that job adverts with gender-neutral language “overwhelmingly” perform best, enabling organisations to reduce the cost per application while increasing application rates and the number of applications per job. However, just 38% of job adverts use gender-neutral language.
After reading this report, I decided to do a bit of my own research.
I looked at two very different industries - manufacturing and childcare. One dominated by men, the other by women. I plucked 100 job adverts for each industry from sites including TotalJobs, CV Library, reed.co.uk and Indeed. A total mixed bag. Then I tested each advert via an online gender bias decoder program.
On the manufacturing side, I searched for job titles such as ‘Manufacturing Engineer’, ‘Operations Director’ and ’Production Manager’. Out of 100 adverts, 73 were masculine coded, 14 used neutral language and 13 were feminine coded.
For childcare, I looked at job adverts such as ‘Nursery Assistant’, ‘Early Learning & Childcare Practitioner’ and ‘Nursery Manager’. And what do you know? The overwhelming majority were aimed at women - 97 feminine coded adverts compared to just three with masculine language.
Of course there are women working in manufacturing and men working in childcare, but there are huge gender gaps in both industries. And job adverts like the ones I’ve spent the last couple of weeks reading are part of the problem.
While unintentional, so many employers are still guilty of using gender bias via their job adverts. They uphold gender stereotypes, which drastically limits the applicant pool as a result.
Time and time again, research has proven that a diverse workforce - an equal representation of both men and women - leads to enhanced collaboration, greater creativity and innovation, improved staff retention and greater profitability..to name a few!
So, what’s the big takeaway?
Well, I’m guessing you’ve got the gist by now, but just in case you need another nudge...neutralise your job adverts!
Some of the most commonly used male-coded words in job adverts include “lead”, “competitive”, “active” and “confident”, compared to words like “support”, “understanding” and “dependable” for women.
Look at the way you’re writing your adverts, focus on these kinds of gender-coded words and make the necessary changes needed to give equal weight to both male and female-coded descriptors. And use programs to check that your adverts are up to scratch, such as this gender decoder.
Diversity and inclusion has come on leaps and bounds in the last decade thanks to annual diversity reports and movements like #MeToo, but unconscious gender bias is still rife within our job adverts, and it needs to change.
Have you tested your own job adverts for gender-bias? How do you think your industry compares to others? If you want to talk about writing engaging, persuasive job adverts without gender-coded language, I’d love to connect. You can find me on LinkedIn or Twitter.
...many employers are still guilty of using gender bias via their job adverts.