Is Your Job Posting Discouraging Applicants from Applying? Here’s How to fix it!
TL:DR: You may not realize it, but the language and content of your job posting may be discouraging applicants from applying. Here’s five things you can do to make your job ad welcoming to more candidates:
- Remove Years of Job-Related Experience Requirements
- Remove those clichés and Red-Flags
- Use a Gender-Bias Decoder
- Remove Your Education Requirements
- Drop the pre-employment drug screenings (if you can)
- Post the Wage, seriously.
There’s times where discouraging candidates from applying is good, for example if you need to hire a bartender you want to discourage anyone under 21 from applying. But what if your job posting is inadvertently discouraging qualified candidates from applying?
While you can’t get in the mind and reasoning of every job seeker, there are a lot of studies out there that show the language and content of job postings does impact the quantity of applicants and the demographic makeup of your applicant pool. We won’t go into a discussion of the studies here, but we will cite further reading in this article if you want to explore this topic more.*
Below are our recommendations for making your job posting more appealing, welcoming and inclusive which will lead to more applicants.
Remove Years of Job-Related Experience Requirements
Have you ever threw a candidate’s resume out the window only because they’re missing one year of experience as required by the job posting? It’s a good bet the answer is probably not. Maybe it’s time we rethink requiring an arbitrary number of years’ experience on job postings.
There’s evidence to suggest that women tend to apply to jobs that they feel they are fully qualified for. On the other hand, men tend to apply for jobs that are a stretch for their experience and skills. To counter this, we’ve seen job ads that have a statement that calls this out and encourages candidates to apply. We especially like this statement We’ve seen on MCEDD job postings:
Studies have shown that women and people of color may be less likely to apply for jobs unless they meet every one of the qualifications listed. We are most interested in finding the best candidate for the job. We would encourage you to apply for a job at MCEDD even if you don’t meet every one of our qualifications listed.https://www.mcedd.org/
Another Inclusion statement we love:
We know that confidence gap and imposter syndrome can get in the way of meeting spectacular candidates, so please don’t hesitate to apply — we’d love to hear from you.
Remove those clichés and Red-Flags
You may have seen this trend on twitter or social media where people share red flags they see on job ads. A quick search on reddit threads brings up some pure gold examples. Candidates are seeing dozens sometimes hundreds of ads just like yours: when you’ve seen your 20th job posting that’s looking for a ‘ninja’ to join the team, you start to roll your eyes.
We get it! It’s difficult to craft a great job posting, especially when recruiting and creative writing is not your full-time job. If you’re struggling to write your job posting without using the word “rockstar,” or “guru”, or you can’t seem to think of a better way to describe the workplace than “fast-paced,” maybe it’s time to get some help. Editing and enhancement of your job posting is a service that comes with Regular or Featured Postings on Gorge Hired. We also have a free Job Posting Template anyone can use to craft a great job posting.
Use a Gender-Bias Decoder
Job ads with masculine themed words attract less women applicants. Words like “strong leader” and “results-driven” attract male candidates while “friendly” can be more appealing to women. This is a documented phenomenon that you can easily fix in your job ads!
A Gender Decoder can help check for strongly masculine / feminine coded words and replace them. There’s several around on the internet, you can try this one out for free http://gender-decoder.katmatfield.com/. The results may surprise you!
Remove Your Education Requirements
How many times have you actually checked a candidate’s college degree or high school diploma? If your answer is ‘none’ then it’s time to re-think this requirement. Putting up that degree is a barrier for skilled applicants who took an alternative path to gaining the skills they have. With the rising cost of education and student loan debt, you should get comfortable with considering applicants without a formal college degree: this trend will stick around! By removing the four-year degree college filter for job requirements, you will also increase diversity in your applicant pool. You can read more here: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/08/business/hiring-without-college-degree.html”Work force experts see removing the four-year college degree filter for some jobs as key to increasing diversity and reducing inequality. Workers, they say, should be selected and promoted because of their skills and experience rather than degrees or educational pedigree. And companies that do change their hiring practices, they add, benefit by tapping previously overlooked pools of talent in a tight labor market, as well as diversifying their work forces.”
Drop the pre-employment drug screenings (if you can).
We get it, there’s still some businesses who contract with the federal government who have to do a drug screening. There’s also jobs like bus drivers and other high-risk professions who need to be assured that someone can operate dangerous equipment safely. However, if there’s no federal requirement or safety reason to pre-screen your applicants for drug use, you’re wasting your time and money.
With marijuana being legal in Washington and Oregon States, applicants see this requirement as antiquated and possibly a reflection of a stiff and ‘old-school’ workplace. In addition to candidate perception, there’s little to no evidence that recreational alcohol, marijuana and even drug use outside of work is an indication of how someone will actually perform in a job. A pre-employment snapshot isn’t actually indicative if someone will be under the influence of drugs during their working hours.
What does work: having clear policies about intoxication in the workplace, the resources to monitor and enforce workplace safety, and a safety-driven culture that supports employee’s wellbeing. These are far better tools to ensure a safe and productive workplace than an expensive pre-employment drug test.
Post the Wage, seriously.
See our post about this! Long story short, you’ll get more applicants, promise!
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*It’s worth noting that the bulk of the job applicant behavior studies compare Men and Women, and don’t include nonbinary job seekers as a group or look at other protected classes such as race, age, and ethnicity. Our hope is that these factors are being studied when it comes to job seeker behavior!