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This Job Description sucks…

There is research that our language is a reflection of our perspectives and biases. As such, the terms and language that we use can negatively affect people when they are reading our job descriptions.  Here are some of the highlights that I learned researching this topic and how we now approach the creation of job descriptions.

Key Lessons Learned

  1. Most men in the USA will read the job description and when they see 3 or 4 items that they can do, they apply for the position. This is not true with many other cultures and mindsets where they will read and evaluate the job description numerous times, determining which criteria they don’t meet. Simply put, they self exclude. an example of this is listing a looooong list of desired skills in the required skills section.
  2. Some labels or terms can be perceived by the reader to indicate a culture that is aggressive, comfortable with conflict or that a teammate has to fail in order for someone else to succeed. e.g. ninja, rockstar, cowboy, crush competition, dominate, work hard – play hard
  3. For folks that are in the early stages of their careers and others that are blessed with a learning mindset, the workplace needs to be a safe environment where people can make mistakes and learn from them. For these folks, a learning environment is key and so they will be looking for keywords that indicates safety. Safety is a key aspect of a healthy culture too!
  4. Focus less on the title and more on the role and don’t list all of the levels that HR has associated with the roles. Why lose a talented candidate because they don’t like a cookie cutter title?
  5. Ten plus years of experience doing something really doesn’t equal competence and excludes people who are talented and deliver the results needed but meet the number of the years experience. Quite honestly, this is how the recruiting team leverage the resume automation to exclude unqualified applicants.

 

How we’ve implemented the lessons learned:

  1. Tell a story of that what the company is like; describe what a day in the life of this role is like. Potential candidates can then easily visualize themselves in that role and determine if it’s a  fit for them or not.
  2. The job description is not a wish list of skills – if there are two or three skills that you cannot live without, list those but resist the urge to publish a wish list.
  3. Focus in on the what the candidate can learn, how they can learn, how they can collaborate with teammates & customers. Learning is a massive part of our life journey and as such people that want to grow are looking for indicator of a safe culture.
  4. Have one name for the role. The level and associated compensation can be addressed with the successful candidates based on their capabilities. That is in internal stuff and shouldn’t complicate the hiring and recruiting process. In our world where we value deliverables that delight our customers, we have learned that ego and compensation is not in the top decision criteria.
  5. Experience solving the following types of challenges in a collaborative manner: ……… People that are excited about the problems that need to be fixed based on their life experiences.

So did this work?

The short answer is: YES!!

We saw a much larger percentage of women apply and the majority of people applied were in our target audience. There were the normal percentage of under qualified or SPAM submissions. The candidates who made it to the short list and were looped for interviews were all exceptional candidates and we had difficult choices on our hands.

We develop software service leveraging an agile-methodology in a disciplined, collaborative environment where creativity & learning is valued; we are sensitive to our customers needs and invest in developing warm relationships with our customers. This approach to writing job descriptions definitely helps us find people that fit right in and thrive in our culture.

 

Additional reading:

FastCompany article on how job description wording affects people – https://www.fastcompany.com/3044094/how-changing-one-word-in-job-descriptions-can-lead-to-more-diverse-candid

 

Online tools to evaluate your job descriptions

Free tool:  http://gender-decoder.katmatfield.com

Paid tool: https://textio.com/

 

 

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