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Does your job advert have a hidden bias?

admin, 22nd May 2017

A job advert is one of the most important parts of your recruitment process. You can sell a role as much as you like but if a candidate cannot see themselves applying after reading your role description, then you’ll find it harder to fill. Crafting an advert not only has to give a comprehensive overview of what your role entails, but also has to attract a candidate into wanting to do it.

However, the language in your job ad may contain a hidden bias that could deter some candidates from applying hence narrowing your candidate pool. Ensuring that your advert appeals to all of your potential candidates ensures that you can always hire the best talent for your role.

Adjectives matter

When constructing your advert consider the adjectives you are using to describe the role. A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology discovered that words like “competitive” and “dominant” consistently featured in adverts in male dominated fields such as engineering. These words discouraged women from applying to these roles as they couldn’t see themselves performing the role in this way. Similarly in female dominated professions, such as teaching, words like “collaborative” and “supportive” could deter men from applying for these roles.

Nouns also matter

Since January 2012, the use of the word “ninja” in job descriptions has risen by over 400%. While, of course, this is an attempt by companies to seem quirky and innovative, it’s been shown to have a negative effect on the diversity  of applications. Women just don’t seem to identify as ninjas, which is understandable, there aren’t that many female ninjas in the zeitgeist if you exclude the work of Quentin Tarantino.

Keep it short

Obviously, there will be requirements for your role that applicants must possess to carry out their job properly, but a lengthy list of required experience will deter women from applying to your roles. Make sure that you keep the list succinct and only include experience that is actually essential. You could also consider having a separate column of “desired attributes” to highlight that these skills are not essential to the role.

Corporate jargon

A job advert that contains a lot of jargon will deter younger candidates. A study found that job ads with acronyms like “SLA” and “KPI” had a lower applicant rate than those without. If KPIs are important to your business then why not ask for a candidate who is “goal orientated” instead. On the other hand, adverts containing phrases like “dynamic” and “go getter” are going to deter older candidates from applying. If you are struggling to fill a role for a more experienced position, consider the phrasing of your advert and see whether it skews towards younger applicants.

By consistently checking your adverts against these criteria you can make sure that you are always speaking to the largest pool of qualified candidates, and you are not unconsciously deterring certain demographics from applying to your ad.

If you want to optimise the way that you recruit, get in touch with RTM today!

The concept of misunderstanding, a barrier in relations, denial of society. Barriers between people, prejudice.
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