Learn How to Write Inclusive Job Postings

Roy Maurer By Roy Maurer July 6, 2021
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​Crafting inclusive job postings that appeal to underrepresented talent means being thoughtful and intentional about acknowledging and countering unconscious bias; using gender-neutral and inclusive language; and emphasizing the company's commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. Katrina Kibben  

Katrina Kibben, CEO of Three Ears Media, is a recognized expert in writing effective job posts, and her session at the SHRM Talent Conference & Expo 2021 in Las Vegas will help attendees engage a more diverse candidate pool. She will be presenting in person on Aug. 23 at 10:15 a.m. Her session will also be available virtually.

Kibben's presentation will cover why many job postings fall flat and what employers can do to give them a refresh, including how to tweak job posts to attract a qualified, diverse selection of candidates through simple word changes, better bullet points and other alterations.

Kibben briefly discussed with SHRM Online the connection between job posts and inclusiveness, tips for writing more inclusive job postings, and how to measure their impact.

SHRM Online: What's the connection between job postings and inclusiveness?
Kibben: While many companies have invested in attraction events and job boards, they haven’t considered the one element all of these platforms have in common: the job posting. In this context and almost any job search, job postings are the candidate’s first introduction to a job and most leave candidates confused and uninterested. Creating an inclusive job posting is not just about pushing your content through gender bias AI. It’s about changing techniques to provide more clarity so any candidate from any background can understand the daily responsibilities and determine if they would like to do this job every day. In fact, many of the standard techniques in a job posting, like years of experience, can infuse additional bias, more than is already introduced simply because we have humans with their own biases making hiring decisions in the first place. The bottom line is that job postings are the beginning of a truly inclusive candidate experience.

SHRM Online: What are a couple of top tips for writing more inclusive job postings?
Kibben: First and foremost, don’t copy and paste other people’s job postings or invest in “smart” job writing technology. You will get your posting wrong if you don’t start with a comprehensive intake instead of other people’s idea of good. Plus, if you start with someone else’s content you’re incorporating their bias, too. Instead, ask questions that prompt storytelling during the hiring manager intake to understand what you’re truly looking for so it’s not a wish list. Use those descriptions of a day-in-the-life, bottom-line requirements, and more verbatim from that conversation to provide candidates a more accurate preview of everyday activities and what the manager is really looking for in their next best hire. Then, avoid traditional requirement sections like years of experience because you can’t quantify experience, you want to qualify people.

SHRM Online: How can you measure the impact of your job postings?
Kibben: Success isn’t universal and every company should set its own baseline for success. Start any recruiting project, including overhauling your job postings, with your goal already in mind. Are you trying to hire more women? Who do you want to see apply? What does success look like for this application process? Understand what that means, then work on writing better job postings. Our customers often share a wide range of impacts and successes. In fact, a solar company that is hiring a new sales director was able to drive 50 percent more female applicants simply by adopting many of the techniques I’ll teach during the session. Others reference metrics like applications, quality of pipeline and traffic as wins.

[Want to learn more about writing better job ads? Join us at the SHRM Talent Conference & Expo 2021, taking place Aug. 22-25 in Las Vegas and virtually.]

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