Welcome to the latest newsletter and thanks for reading along. This time out we’re looking at job descriptions.
I know, I know. Writing a job description isn’t something you jump out of bed in the morning to do. But they’re a key factor in who applies for your jobs. And ultimately, who you hire.
First up we’ll look into how men and women react differently to job descriptions. And some simple tweaks you can make to get a more diverse candidate pool.
Then we’ll explore what to include in your job descriptions to appeal to the best candidates. Resulting in more of them applying, and improving your chances of making a great hire.
I hope you enjoy it! And if you try out some of the tips in the articles it’d be great to hear how it goes.
P.S.If you have some tips on how I can improve this newsletter I’d love to hear them! Just reply to this email.
A new LinkedIn report looked at billions of interactions across 2018 and found a clear gap in how men and women apply for jobs. A few points to note are that:
An interesting report into how people are behaving on LinkedIn. But as it only looks at data it doesn’t offer much insight into why people act the way they do.
According to a Hewlett Packard study, women are less likely to apply for a job if they don’t think they meet all the requirements. Tara Sophie Mohr wanted to know why. So she surveyed over 1000 men and women to ask them: “If you decided to not apply for a job because you didn’t meet all the qualifications, why didn’t you apply?” A bit of an awkward question, but interesting findings on why women take a more conscientious approach.
👉 The article was motivated by an often quoted internal HP study. I tried but failed to find a copy to share. According to the Huffington Post, this may be because it doesn’t exist. In any case, it’s probably best not to quote the HP study.
A number of studies have found that men and women react differently to some words. In this experiment, the researchers wanted to see how often these gendered words were used in job ads. And if they impacted whether men and women would apply.
There are some great findings in the report, but it is rather dense. I’ve written a summary of the analysis and these are my key takeaways:
You should note that the study used job descriptions that had high amounts of gendered words (7 - 8% of all words). Unfortunately, they didn’t test to see if the proportion of gendered words impacted the results.
When Fortune magazine analysed Walmart job descriptions in Q1 2017, they found 51% were more likely to appeal to men. Even worse, it increased to 84% of director level jobs.
To analyse the jobs they used Textio - augmented writing software that aims to improve diversity. It seems to be one of the better tools at analysing wording, but I’m not sure on the pricing (I’ve heard it’s high).
If you’re after something simpler (and free) you might find the job ad decoder I built useful. I’ve also put together some neutral words you can use to replace the gendered ones. You can get them here or on the results page of the decoder.
The whole idea of gendered words does seem to be based on stereotypes. There will be women looking for a leadership role. And men for support. So perhaps the results of the tools are best used as a guide. In any case, getting your ads more neutral won’t do any harm.
🎯 Focusing on what the job can offer the candidate
Most job descriptions are written from the point of view of the employer. What they are looking for and expect a candidate to have. But could focusing on what’s important for the candidate result in higher quality applicants?
Academics Schmidt, Chapman and Jones decided to find out. One great aspect of their study is that they worked with a company with a number of vacancies. Often these experiments are based on people saying what they would do. In this case, they measured what real applicants did.
For the experiment they advertised using two approaches:
Both ads included job requirements so they didn’t get applications from people the company thought weren’t qualified.
To give a bit more context, an example given from the type 1 job ad was:
“The successful applicant will have excellent written and verbal communication skills and be a motivated, self-starter who is able to complete tasks in a timely manner.”
And an example from the type 2 ad:
“The job will also provide you with autonomy as you will be required to complete tasks with minimal supervision.”
As they were real job ads, the hiring company judged the quality of the applications. The main findings were:
The findings may be intuitive to a lot of you. But it’s important to have the evidence to back you up. And a 3x improvement is significant.
You can access the full academic report here. You generally need to pay for it - but using this link you should be able to access it for free (it may require signing up for a free trial).
I have a copy of the study, so feel free to get in touch if you have any questions but aren’t keen on wading through the entire study - I can certainly sympathise 😉
LinkedIn wanted to see if candidates are drawn to certain parts of a job description. To test this, they asked 450 candidates to review example job descriptions - and highlight what they found helpful, appealing or made them want to apply.
You know learning about implicit biases can help diversity in hiring - but did you know it can help you make better decisions?
This article explains how and has a great framework for making good decisions. Thanks Harlene for sharing this one!
That’s all for now. See you in a couple of weeks when spring has (hopefully) arrived 🌱🌸
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