Attract a Diverse Talent Pool By Fixing These 4 Job Description Mistakes

Attract a Diverse Talent Pool By Fixing These 4 Job Description Mistakes

The many advantages of building a diverse team are well-documented, with benefits including increased innovation and creativity, happier employees, higher productivity, and more. Combine this long list of upsides with historically high shortages for talent, and more businesses than ever are doing everything they can to reach a diverse pool of candidates in their hiring efforts.

While these DEI objectives have the potential to influence every stage of the talent acquisition experience, it’s important that employers review every touchpoint with potential employees to make sure they’re doing all they can to attract a diverse range of candidates.

For many companies, this means starting with the job descriptions that accompany each open role.

And while these listings might seem relatively innocuous, there are five specific common mistakes that might be working against your company’s efforts for inclusive hiring.

Avoid the duplication approach to writing descriptions

With recruiters trying to fill an unprecedented number of open positions, it’s understandable to look for efficiencies wherever possible.

One place to forego the shortcut, however, is to avoid simply copying and pasting language from previous open roles or even other companies.

The reasoning is pretty straightforward: By copying a description that someone else wrote, you’re also inheriting their biased language or restrictive requirements.

A solution to this problem is two-fold. First, it’s imperative that recruiters have adequate, detailed intake meetings with hiring managers that cover all the necessary details to write a detailed description that’s tailored specifically to the role.

As part of this meeting, recruiters should consider if there have been any diversity-related concerns raised in recent interviews that could have been resolved at the job description stage.

This process can be streamlined by using an interview intelligence platform to easily record and analyze interviews.

Second, recruiters can make a concerted effort to create a database of messaging that has already been scrutinized for inclusiveness by multiple parties, and use it only when necessary (a company description, for example).

Separate requirements from nice-to-haves

Unfortunately, too many job descriptions are written to describe a candidate that simply doesn’t exist.

And while hiring managers might feel that a long list of must-have skills is non-negotiable, they might actually be discouraging qualified candidates from applying at all.

During the intake stage of the hiring process, recruiters need to be prepared to coach hiring managers about the fact that while some skills are absolutely essential, many of them can be effectively learned by a qualified candidate once they’re actually in the role.

Accepting this fact carries with it the added benefit that the employee will be tailoring the skill to the current needs of the organization, rather than having to unlearn the way they performed a task at a previous company.

Use inclusive language

The corporate world is rife with buzzwords and gendered language, and unfortunately, these terms often find their way into job descriptions.

Beyond the fact that using jargon like “detail-oriented” is so cliche that it is almost completely devoid of meaning, including these phrases in job descriptions can also signal to potential candidates that they should already understand the internal culture of the company before applying for the role.

Unfortunately, this can unintentionally signal an attitude of exclusivity.

Recruiters and hiring managers should carefully review job descriptions and weed out every possible buzzword or use of gendered language.

In addition to scrapping terms like “team player,” “ninja, or ” “detail-oriented,” there are often other phrases that are common in specific roles or disciplines—these are probably more easily identified by the hiring manager than the recruiter. 

Acronyms can also be incredibly common in job descriptions, especially for technical roles. If removing an acronym isn’t possible, the simplest solution is to define the acronym as a parenthetical. For example, “You will be responsible for quarterly KPIs (key performance indicators).”

Offer flexibility or remote options

2020 changed the world’s perception of remote working, with a recent poll showing that 97% of employees don’t want to return to an office full-time.

With such a significant percentage of employees wanting to work from home at least sometimes, offering that flexibility has become almost a requirement of companies who are looking to attract new talent.

Luckily, distributed teams offer many advantages toward encouraging inclusivity as well. 

Not only do remote opportunities broaden the potential applicant pool across multiple time zones, but they are also encouraging to those who might require flexibility in order to accept a role.

For example, a single mother or father might need to work remotely so that their child doesn’t return to an empty home once school is finished each day.

Being proactive

While resolving the four common mistakes in this article is a great place to start, encouraging diversity through the hiring process is an ongoing effort.

Talent acquisition teams should partner with anyone in an organization that is involved in hiring to constantly identify shortcomings and propose solutions. 

As a company builds its recruiting tech stack, there are many opportunities to implement platforms and tools that can help reduce interview bias and make sure that candidates are being selected based on their actual experience rather than gut feelings or hunches.

Many scaling companies find these investments invaluable in helping them work toward their DEI objectives.

About the author

BrightHire’s interview intelligence platform helps business leaders elevate the speed, quality, and fairness of their hiring processes. Built seamlessly on top of the tools teams already use, BrightHire automatically records and transcribes interviews in order to unlock efficiency and collaboration across hiring teams and support every hiring decision with evidence.