Intentionally Inclusive Job Ads
Research shows that job ad content greatly impacts who finds the position appealing. In this article we describe ways to strategically write a job ad to attract a wider talent pool.
Approach the job ad with a growth mindset
A “growth mindset” should be at the core of any diversity and inclusion effort. This term, originally coined by Carol Dweck, means a belief “that abilities and talents can be developed.” It indicates an openness to potential, a willingness to learn, and a receptivity to change. In contrast, a “fixed mindset” is one that tends to be rigid, closed, and narrow--one that favors familiar patterns over potential. Unsurprisingly, a growth mindset is more appealing to a wide variety of candidates. It is inherently more inclusive, focusing on human potential, rather than fixed traits.
A job ad offers the opportunity to show candidates that you are actively cultivating and seeking a growth mindset. This is particularly important for organizations with reputations of being relatively homogenous.
What does this mean in a practical sense? To start, you’ll need your standardized hiring scorecard in front of you as you write the job ad.
Start with job tasks and goals
Before listing requirements, spell out the milestones and tasks that this job will be comprised of. This way, candidates have a chance to read through and consider -- without labels -- whether they can deliver those goals. Avoid jargon and acronyms and describe any industry-specific terms.
Focus on potential
As mentioned in the standardized hiring scorecard article, it is easy to fall into a pattern of favoring candidates who fit the mold of what you’ve seen before. Writing a job ad is a great opportunity to reevaluate those patterns with a growth mindset. Utilizing your scorecard, outline candidate requirements sparingly, and follow these with “nice to have” traits. Avoid extremely rigid and strict requirements where possible. Instead, allow space for candidates to surprise you, and demonstrate in their own way how they can excel at the job at hand.
Demonstrate how the role will support employee growth
A job ad presents a chance to communicate to candidates that you care about their growth, too. What learning opportunities will this job provide? Will they be paired with a mentor? What are you proud of in your team that the candidate will get to be a part of? Research shows that jobs demonstrating this growth mindset fill more quickly than those that don’t.
Choose wording carefully
A number of studies have shown that specific words invite or deter potential candidates. Words that are highly gendered, such as “wizard” and “rockstar,” for example, should be avoided as they are highly unappealing to female candidates. Conversely, specific “growth mindset” language can be used strategically to attract candidates. A recent study found that job ads with phrases that speak to employee growth and potential, like highly determined, commitment to improvement, learn new things, were more successful than those with phrases focused on fixed traits and past performance, like high performer, genius, uniquely talented, overachiever. Tools like Textio can scan your job ad and help you pinpoint and adjust your wording.
Aim for full transparency
Historically, the work of people of color, women, and other marginalized groups has been underpaid and undervalued. Asking for salary history is an outdated practice that perpetuates pay gaps. Instead, outline the pay range up front, and state clearly whether pay and benefits are negotiable. This helps to ensure that all candidates are on equal footing with regards to compensation.
Treat the writing of the job ad as an opportunity not only to attract a wide pool of talent, but also as an exercise in flexing your own growth mindset. Instead of falling back on patterns of job ads used in the past, this is a great chance to reevaluate those patterns and intentionally build in room for potential.