Ever wonder how your job descriptions are helping to increase diversity in the workplace? In today’s workforce, it is not uncommon for people from a variety of backgrounds and with different experiences to be working side-by-side. However, recruiting strategies often overlook this reality when they target certain demographics while neglecting others.
Increasing diversity is a topic I feel very strongly about because I have spent the last seven years analyzing, testing, and developing technology to identify why job descriptions fail to attract diverse talent and developing a solution that would automatically improve our customers’ current job performance.
Now that we have thousands of customers using our technology, I realized that it was prime time for us to share ThisWay’s internal document called, ACHIEVING JOB DESCRIPTION WIZARDRY.
Yes, it’s a quirky name but we are a quirky group so it is fitting. It is caused by wizardry because it has delivered magical results and also because we just enjoy referencing wizards whenever possible.
ACHIEVING JOB DESCRIPTION WIZARDRY was initially developed so we could have intelligent conversations about job descriptions with fellow ThisWay team members and with thousands of recruiters and hiring managers that shared their experience and job descriptions with us for research purposes.
Even with the extraordinary benefits and increased diversity that comes with improved job descriptions, we realize not every company is ready to invest in technology to help their recruiters. This guide will manually help recruiters and candidates in the meantime.
Also, please note that we automatically run our customers’ job descriptions through live A/B market testing but haven’t identified a way to do that in a manual fashion. Mention of that part of our process will only be relative to ThisWay customers.
Table of Contents
Job Description Title
One of the most important but greatly overlooked aspects of a job description is the title of that job. When a hiring manager decides they need to add more people to their team they often fall back on whatever that job has been called previously, even if it doesn’t make sense to anyone.
For example, this job title:
People Admin Level 2
This is a real job title we received and we had our team guess what this person would do as a job for our customer.
Here are some guesses…
HR Administrator, Admin for a group of people or team within the company, and another person that might be in charge of managing guests upon arrival at the main desk.
Unfortunately, none of our guesses were correct.
The People Admin 2 position was in charge of managing the people when they went in and out of the parking garage because the employer was a defense contractor and they needed to make sure everyone was accounted for within the building and company parking areas.
The skills that this job required were related to very skilled and experienced security professionals and they preferred someone with special ops and/ SWAT team experience.
I can’t say this loudly enough…
Spec Ops and SWAT team people ARE NOT going to give the job People Admin 2 as much as a passing glance when looking for their next career move.
Even more, an employer will end up with a slew of administrative professionals that think the job might be a perfect fit because they didn’t both read the job description.
Either way, the employer won’t find the people they need and qualified people won’t find the job they are looking for.
If you haven’t analyzed hundreds of thousands of job descriptions you might believe this example is an anomaly but I assure you, it is not.
Diversity and Inclusion Positioning:
An applicant should know that your company is specifically open to and is proactively recruiting individuals with diverse backgrounds.
If customers submit job descriptions that constrain the type of diverse applicants they will accept, then our company either needs to have the customer change the job description or we need to refrain from working with this customer.
It has become common for companies to target a particular class of diverse candidates and we cannot permit this type of job description because this process excludes other classes of diverse individuals.
Furthermore, this practice violates the intent of federal equal opportunity laws and is against ThisWay’s mission of providing fair matching of all people to all jobs.
It is highly recommended that you share your commitment to diversity within your job description.
Gender and Ethnic Neutralization
This aspect of job description correction is very difficult to do manually, but I will try to share a few tips here.
Certain words and phrases are more masculine than feminine, and some language is more inclusive and others more divisive.
Change words like ninja sales leader to dynamic sales leader to attract a wider range of talent.
Use words like collaborative to attract consensus builders and be careful about using the word leader or leadership if you want to appeal to people that are comfortable letting others take the limelight.
Explanation of what the person will be doing
I’m often shocked by how poor job descriptions are at explaining what a person will need to do in order to be successful in the described job.
Sometimes it seems like companies have created the ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ job description because they have not clearly defined what this person really needs to do so they just describe a person that can do everything.
A short cut to a defined job description is to list the top three things this person has to deliver based on whatever Key Performance Indicators (KPI) they will be held to.
If it’s a manufacturing job then they might need to be able to stand on their feet for extended periods of time, while operating CNC equipment, and adhering to OSHA regulations. Yes, they need to be able to read, write, and be on time for work and many other things. But above all else they need to be a CNC Operator and operate safely.
In more managerial and executive roles we often see that companies don’t share how many people they will need to manage nor if these people are in person, remote, or a blend of the both. This has never been more important than during a post-pandemic job market in recovery. I could literally write a book on this one element of job descriptions because it is complex and also super important.
It’s a big part of why we built A/B testing into our core technology and also it means that we could help our customers in ways that are not otherwise possible.
Requirements of successful applicants
I cannot emphasize the word REQUIREMENTS enough.
The definition of the word requirement is:
1. a thing that is needed or wanted
2. a thing that is compulsory; a necessary condition
By its definition these candidate traits must be absolutely essential to do the job.
Examples: Medical Doctors have to be a licensed physician and teachers must have a teaching certificate/license, and drivers need to have the right license and the required clean driving record. All of these are requirements that should be listed in the job description.
But I want to now challenge you on a few requirements that we often see that aren’t truly requirements. In fact, by making them requirements you miss out on some incredibly qualified and diverse talent.
Examples: Some of the best robotics engineers in the world do not have college degrees. Some went to college for a period of time and others have never attended further education. But they are often the best engineers and the ones that have built projects that others teach about.
Additionally, we see so many applicants from diverse communities that have true ‘OJT’ aka On the Job Training. They may have worked at a job for a decade and know that role inside and out but life circumstances kept them from having the opportunity to attend college or gain formal education beyond high school. In many cases they have taught so many people how to do the ‘the job’ right but have constantly been overlooked because they did not earn a piece of paper that employers want them to have.
As an employer, this is your loss.
And by virtue of the job marketplace dynamics, these highly qualified and motivated individuals also suffer the loss of a successful and rewarding career.
Preferred/Nice to haves of successful applicants
You, as an employer, should absolutely be able to ask for what you want in a candidate. And by making these not-so-required attributes a preference, you can ask for what you want while also being inclusive in your recruiting practices.
People who are overqualified and those who are under qualified will apply. But what we see more often than not is that people who are diverse and/or people who care about diversity will see the authenticity of your job description and they will be attracted to it.
I’ve never heard a candidate say how impressed they were with an employer who asked for a ton of requirements.
Time and time again I’ve heard applicants talk about how intrigued they were when the job description was about the job, the company, the core values, and didn’t have a long list of table stakes requirements that they knew were false requirements.
Right about now, you may be feeling overwhelmed with the different elements to consider but we are going to include a bit of a Mad Libs template for you to try and test all of this for yourself.
I am probably showing my age but before everything was powered by technology we all used things called pen and paper. During these ‘olden times’ there was a fun notebook that would have you enter words into certain spaces and it would come up with something funny. It was great for family road trips back in the days when we didn’t wear seatbelts and we could all stretch out in the back of the giant super wagons!
Let me start with the fact that benefits are both super important and also NOT what you think they might be.
We all want to work for a company that offers all kinds of insurance and 401K, etc. but I rarely…actually, very rarely, hear a great candidate get excited about these types of benefits.
The benefits they care about are more closely tied to their daily life. I thought it would be good to share a list of questions that candidates comment about when they actively apply for a job.
1. Is the company pet friendly?
I really get this one because we are a dog friendly company and so many of our employees have four legged children. As you may have noticed we have lots of dogs on our website and people love our company mascot, Sully the Scottie.
In a post-COVID job market this has become even more important. Pets and their people became even closer during the pandemic and people have reprioritized the importance of spending time with their fur-babies.
This is a huge benefit to so many people and we love seeing how many companies have embraced this new, pawsome benefit.
2. Can I work remotely?
Before 2020 most companies would have been intolerant of candidates suggesting they work remotely, unless it was already a remote position.
To say that things have changed on this front would be an understatement.
Some work has to be onsite and some employees really love going to a workplace and having a complete separation between work and home. However, there is a growing number of people and employers that have seen and embraced a fully remote or blended work experience.
Recently many employers have begun to request that employees come to an office once or twice per week. In jobs that can be done entirely from home there has been significant pushback. Even more interestingly, many of these business leaders would like to also work 100% from home.
This presents a point where businesses again need to think carefully about what is ‘required’ and what isn’t. Much of the best talent is choosing to work for fully or near fully remote companies.
As seen in onsite industries such as hospitality, manufacturing, medical care, or retail, employers are now experiencing one of, if not the most, challenging job markets in modern history. This is largely because most people want to have workplace flexibility and remote work.
3. Will I be able to have a work life balance?
Everyone’s idea of work/life balance varies, but what has become clear is that the pandemic has caused additional mental health challenges for many people.
We would love to work with you or your organization and help increase diversity in the workplace. Have you considered what a diverse workforce can offer? Reach out today so that we can schedule a meeting where we discuss some of our ideas for recruiting, interviewing, and managing a more inclusive environment.