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Job descriptions that signal “this is the job for you”
Build an equitable hiring foundation with inclusive job descriptions optimized with the leading research-based DEI language insights.
See Beyond the Obvious—learn how to build a more diverse workforce. Read the eBook
First impressions matter. Make sure your job descriptions appeal to everyone.
Using exclusionary words or phrases can tarnish your brand and inadvertently convince talented, qualified candidates that they shouldn’t apply. Increase representation within your applicant pool by reworking job posts, emails, and social content to reflect your commitment to inclusion.
Job descriptions make or break the start of the entire hiring process
49.7 seconds is how long the average person spends reading a job description, which means every second counts. Ensure your messaging is clear, engaging, and aligned with your company’s culture and values—especially your DE&I values—to leave a great first impression.
Our scientifically researched term categories are constantly expanding.
- Gendered terms
- People of color
- People with disabilities
“Unconscious bias is systemic and dramatically narrows the talent pipeline.”
— Aaron C. Kay, Ph.D., Duke University (and Clovers’ researcher)
Aaron C. Kay (PhD 2005, Stanford University) is the J Rex Fuqua Professor of Management and Professor of Psychology & Neuroscience at Duke University. His research focuses on the relation between motivation, implicit social cognition, and social issues. more
The most robust inclusive language data and guidance
Our inclusion guidance is powered by cutting-edge academic research paired with expertise.
Research is the standard
We used thousands of survey responses to learn which terms make candidates feel comfortable applying for jobs and which terms turn them off. Because we know that words have an impact. And that when we stick to the research (request to see it!), we empower more applicants to pursue the jobs of their dreams. Request our research
Don’t rely just on AI
Artificial intelligence is subject to the bias of the humans who created it. So don’t use crowdsourcing or guesswork to build your processes, and stop scanning the web looking for trends on your own—you could be feeding your algorithms faulty data. Instead, use high quality research to build your hiring systems.
Set clear expectations from the beginning to increase employee retention
20% of employees who leave roles fault lack of job fit. Since candidates often rely on job descriptions to gauge whether they’ll find success and belonging, avoid confusion from the ground up with accurate descriptions.
Close the gender gap
The ultimate free inclusive job description template
Words matter. And if you want to build and source a large candidate pool, you need to use them wisely. With that in mind, we designed a free template to help you write job descriptions that are as inclusive and attractive as possible.
Download your free template
Questions to ask yourself when reducing bias in your hiring process
Do you craft inclusive job descriptions?
Job descriptions optimized with inclusive language make your brand appealing to a broader range of people.
Do you ensure anonymous resume reviews?
Evaluate resumes fairly by redacting information that could trigger bias.
Do you understand the skills needed for each role?
Understanding the skills required for your open roles will provide a clear roadmap for evaluating candidates.
Do you utilize objective hiring assessments?
Teach interviewers how to assess candidates with consistent guidelines and structured questions.
Do you have a diverse screening panel?
Establish a panel of diverse employees to minimize unconscious bias and monitor your hiring process.
Do you reinforce anti-bias education?
Train your interviewers to use objective, fact-based hiring techniques.
Cathy Hogan, Education Director @ Family Centers an Education Nonprofit
Frequently asked questions
Each job description should be written to encourage the broadest and most diverse talent pool to apply for the open position. The Clovers Job Description Optimizer will identify problematic terms and offer up suggestions to replace problematic terms without changing the context of the job description.
The main thing to keep in mind is this: make your content meaningful. It is critical that your job description includes only criteria that are truly important to job performance—every line you include has a huge impact on the diversity of the individuals choosing to apply for that job.
In an internal study at Hewlett Packard, women applied only for jobs for which they believed they met 100% of the criteria listed. In contrast, men in the study applied for the job if they believed they met 60% of the required criteria—that means while men are likely to apply when they meet most of the requirements you’ve listed, women are likely to review the required and preferred list and then only apply if they meet all of them. Listing less than ten total qualifications and three or fewer requirements is a critical job description best practice to follow.
As described above in the job requirements FAQ, women tend to apply for jobs only when they feel they meet 100% of the criteria. Imagine Mary in this real-life example: She reads your job description’s requirement for “3-5 years experience working in a service provider environment.” Only having 2.5 years of experience and interpreting your requirement very literally, she hesitates to apply. Now Paul, also with just 2.5 years experience, applies for that job.
Consider also the possibility that Mary, who didn’t apply, had a better overall resume than Paul, who you are now interviewing—all because of a slightly narrowing choice made at the job description stage. Avoiding listing years or only listing the minimum number rather than a range is a critically important best practice.
The Twittersphere generated a host of anecdotal evidence of the effect of job description language on female applicants when a Tweeter posted the question, “If you’re a woman or minority in your field, what language turns you away from job descriptions?” From “rockstar” to “work hard, play hard,” hundreds of replies voiced examples of off-putting gendered language that has become increasingly common in job descriptions.
In 2011, Aaron Kay from Duke University and Danielle Gaucher and Justin Friesen from the University of Waterloo released a seminal study demonstrating that subtle wording differences in job descriptions can affect who applies for a given job. The researchers found that including more feminine-coded language in a job description or minimizing masculine-coded language in a job description results in greater interest among potential female applicants.
Consider the differences between these two variations on a sentence in the same registered nurse job description:
Masculinely worded: “We are determined to deliver superior medical treatment tailored to each individual patient.”
Femininely worded: “We are committed to providing top quality health care that is sympathetic to the needs of our patients.”
The results showed that descriptions with more feminine wording were more appealing and would get more female applicants than descriptions with more masculine wording.
We know that individuals considering applying for a job are looking as much in a job description for clues about a company’s environment as they are at the role itself. For example, a woman reading a job description boasting a company’s “beer Thursdays” or “foosball competitions” may assume a company is most friendly to people from a certain type of background. Our job description optimizer allows you to create job descriptions that strike a neutral tone and better convey to your potential applicants: “We are a company that values all kinds of people.”
To expand on the list of terms that Dr. Kay published as “masculine” and “feminine,” Clovers has surveyed thousands of participants on the gender leanings of the most commonly used terms in job descriptions on the web today. In addition, we’ve conducted surveys that have found that including growth mindset language and talking about a company’s social contribution can attract other under-represented groups, including people of color.
We help you look out for these words by labeling the terms “inclusive” and “problematic.” Keep in mind that when Dr. Kay’s team looked at the effect of job descriptions with an inordinate number of feminine words, men’s interest in applying for those jobs went unchanged; in other words, it is likely that you can’t add too many inclusive terms. Also, you don’t need to get rid of all uses of the problematic terms. Just add inclusive terms to counterbalance them so that you achieve an overall balance of inclusive and problematic language.
Research economists Andreas Leibbrandt and John List showed that a major cause of the pay gap between men and women is that women are less likely to negotiate. They uncovered in the study that when a job description mentioned “salary negotiable,” the pay gap between men and women hires closed by 45% because women became more likely to negotiate their starting salary.
The algorithm calculating your job’s effectiveness helps you assess how well you’ve implemented job description best practices. The score adds points for content that will attract a broader pool of applicants and subtracts points for content likely to alienate some applicants.
Positive points are earned by having inclusive language and other job description best practices for attracting more female and minority applicants; negative points are earned from problematic language, like citing “years required” too often and listing too many “requirements.”
Ready to amplify an inclusive voice in your recruitment content?
Reach out to see how we can help.