Some Dos and Don’ts When Creating an Inclusive Job Advertisement

  • Photo Caris Graham
  • Caris Graham

Everyone matters v2

One of the earliest stages in becoming a more inclusive organisation begins with not only the work environment but the diversity that you are attracting in your job adverts. The Ladders research found that the average person spends 49.7 seconds reviewing a job advert before deciding it is not fit for them. Too often when people write job advertisements, they already have a picture of the ‘ideal’ candidate in mind, there are many limitations to this, such as falling foul of affinity bias, meaning they are more likely to favour candidates who are similar to them. Unconscious biases may also affect judgement and can cause us to make decisions in favour of one person or group to the detriment of others, particularly for people with protected characteristics. It is important that we consider using wording to encourage a more diverse audience by basing this on the job, and not the person. This article touches on some dos and don’ts when creating a job advert.

  1. Avoid words such as ‘dynamic’, ‘recent graduate’ and ‘mature’ – these can be seen as a discriminator of different ages. Focus more on the breadth of experience than on years and personality traits that could suggest a person’s age.
  2. Avoid using acronyms without explaining them, although you may want your applicants to know what this means, it may be off-putting to applicants who haven’t heard of the acronym before. This can lead to the individual feeling that they aren’t fit for the role when this may not necessarily be the case.
  3. If the job role does not need this- avoid asking for someone who is ‘flexible’ this is particularly difficult for those with caring responsibilities, specifically single parents.
  4. You could offer blind recruitment for candidates to prevent unconscious bias, this means that the individual assessing the job applicants will have no knowledge of the candidate's name, ethnicity, or gender.
  5. Avoid asking for skills that aren’t necessary to the role. There is a statistic from the Hewlett Packard internal report that states that men will apply for a role if they meet just 60% of the requirements, while women will only apply if they hit 100%. Therefore, it is key when creating an inclusive job advert that the requirements of the job clearly state which skills and competencies are essential and which are desirable.
  6. Asking for English as a first language or excellent written and verbal communication skills unless necessary for the success of the role can act as a barrier for a lot of people, e.g someone whose first language isn’t English may feel that they are not suitable for the role.
  7. Add a diversity statement to your advert. Tell the applicant that you encourage a diverse audience. You can also show your commitment by making your EDI action plan/diversity or accessibility policy public, this can be reassuring to applicants who might be unsure if they are joining an organisation with a welcoming and inclusive environment.
  8. Make sure that the format is accessible, for example, The British Dyslexia association recommend using san-serif fonts such as Verdana, Calibri or Arial and use bold to highlight something rather than italics/ underlining.
  9. Use gender-neutral pronouns such as ‘they’ and ‘you’. The gender of the applicant should not be assumed.
  10. Avoid asking for previous experience if it is not essential. If they have the skills and knowledge to be able to do the role, they shouldn’t need previous experience. Especially in the environment and sustainability profession where already the diversity is minimal.
  11. Avoid using gendered wording (for example in the catering industry words such as barmaid and waitress have been replaced with waiting staff).
  12. Avoid using wording which contains a blanket ban on the consideration of non-EEA applicants asking for a UK work permit as this will exclude applicants from applying on the grounds of race you should treat all applicants the same and assess the suitability for the job alone. At the interview stage, you can assess eligibility to work in the UK.
  13. Unless essential for the role requirements, adverts should not state any requirements relating to health, for example, you should avoid using terminology such as ‘energetic’ or ‘fit’.
  14. Ensure all job requirements relate specifically to the needs of the job. By defining work as performance objectives, you open the talent pool to more diverse talent and reduce bias.