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How to Write More Inclusive Job Advertisements

Sep 6, 2021 10:00:00 AM
By The TPD Team

in HR Trends, Hiring, Employer, Diversity

With so many businesses struggling to find qualified workers, the last thing you want is to discourage jobseekers before they’ve even applied for your open positions. But your job advertisements might deter candidates, depending on how they’re written.

Watch Your Language

The most important rule to writing a more inclusive job advertisement is to watch your language. Specifically:

  • Avoid gendered language
  • Use inclusive language
  • Avoid jargon

Avoid Gendered Language

Gender-specific pronouns like she, he or even s/he, limit the definition of the “ideal” candidate. “You” and “they” both are acceptable inclusive pronouns. However, “you” addresses the candidate directly, enabling all readers to envision themselves in the role.

Pronouns aren’t the only gender-charged words. Modifiers like “fast-paced,” “ambitious” and “competitive…have historically been understood as positive attributes for men and negative attributes for women.” Words like “cooperation,” “understanding” and “dedication” skew “feminine” but are less likely to cause a candidate to skip over your job posting.  

Once you’ve done your best to draft a gender-neutral job post, consider running the text through an online tool that analyzes for gender bias.

Use Inclusive Language

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) prohibits discrimination based on sex, age, race, national origin, disability, religion, gender identity and color, but inclusivity doesn’t stop there. Consider other marginalized groups, like those with dyslexia or autism. Although just as qualified, they may have a harder time reading your job post. To limit literacy exclusion, make sure your job advertisements are easily understandable. Avoid complex sentences and murky phrases to appeal to the widest audience.

Avoid Jargon

Experts also recommend avoiding the use of industry jargon in your job advertisement. Candidates who don’t understand these limited-use phrases may decide not to apply, even if they are qualified for the role.

There are two additional steps you can take to create more inclusive job advertisements:

  • Limit requirements
  • Highlight benefits

Limit Requirements

Instead of presenting a laundry list of skills and abilities desired in a new hire, which may discourage candidates, include only the essential “must-haves.”

A study cited in LinkedIn showed men are likely to apply to jobs for which they meet only 60% of the qualifications, while women typically apply only if they meet 100% of the listed requirements. Even more compelling, the Wall Street Journal notes that the average jobseeker spends less than 50 seconds reviewing a listing before deciding they don’t fit the advertisement.

Clearly, including only the most essential skills encourages interest from the broadest range of candidates.

Highlight Your Benefits

Don’t forget to list high-demand benefits in your job advertisement, using inclusive, gender-neutral vocabulary. These might include parental leave (rather than maternity leave), childcare subsidies, paid family sick time, mental health and wellness programs and employee resource groups.

Writing more inclusive job advertisements can pay off by attracting a wider selection of qualified candidates while supporting a diverse and inclusive work environment and corporate culture.


Looking for qualified candidates? Contact the staffing advisors at TPD to support your hiring needs. 

Filed under HR Trends, Hiring, Employer, Diversity

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