How to Write Inclusive Job Descriptions

Your job description is a candidate’s first impression of your company so it has a HUGE impact on whether your ideal candidates apply.

Caro Griffin
Caro Griffin
Oct 18, 2023
 min read
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How to Write Inclusive Job Descriptions

Job postings are hard to do well. That’s why a lot of us resort to copy/pasting a similar one, making a few edits, and calling it a day. This is a big mistake!

Your job posting is a candidate’s first impression of your company. It says a lot about your company and what you value!

This has a HUGE impact on whether your ideal candidates apply for your open role, and thus the quality of your team. Make sure you're thinking of them as the marketing asset they are!

You wouldn’t copy/paste someone else’s sales page, make minimal edits, and hope for the best, would you?

No, you would do research, A/B test your copy, and make edits based on feedback. You would iterate over time until you find a version that gets you the best leads.

This is exactly how you should approach your job descriptions! But, don’t worry, it’s not as hard or time consuming as it sounds. 😅

We have a decade of experience in helping companies hire more women in tech, and we're sharing our pro tips below! We hope they help you attract (and ultimately hire) more women in tech.

Focus on what you offer candidates

A salesperson who only focuses on their quota would be a pretty crappy salesperson, right? The same logic applies here.

Many women aren’t just looking for a role, they’re looking for a great company that they can grow with.

Even in a tough job market, the best candidates will have their pick of places to work. The team, mission, and product can be just as important to these candidates (if not more so!) than the nitty gritty details of the role itself, especially in the early stages of the hiring process when they’re just trying to decide to apply or not.

How to put this into action

Before you start outlining the role’s duties and requirements, spend some time showcasing your company’s mission, product, and culture. 

These details can be super compelling and make all the difference between a candidate closing the tab or going on to apply. So, don’t be afraid to get detailed here! 

We recommend:

  • Explaining what your company does in plain language (no jargon!)
  • Painting a picture of your company’s vision or the next 6-12 months - Why should they be excited to do this work at your company, specifically?
  • Telling them who they will be working with, especially if you have other women in senior/technical roles
  • Sharing what’s important at your company by including your values, DEI statement, or similar

This can be a little work upfront but it’ll pay off over time - in terms of increased applicants, a more diverse candidate pool, and even a higher rate of accepted offers. 

For more inspo, check out the job descriptions from CommandBar, TXI, and Zapier.  

Be thoughtful with your role requirements

Too often, our job descriptions include a long list of job requirements that rivals a little kid’s Christmas list. Which makes sense! 

We want to hire the best possible candidate for the job, and we want to review as few applications as possible. So, we should be super clear about what we’re looking for so that unqualified candidates weed themselves out, right? Not so fast!

First of all, it doesn't really work like that. Candidates of all skill levels will apply no matter what you put in the job description. And you might also be discouraging otherwise great candidates, especially those from underrepresented groups.

For example, women are less likely to apply for jobs unless they meet 100% of the requirements, whereas men will apply even if they only meet 60% of requirements. (This isn’t because women lack confidence. They just tend to believe you when you say things are required.)

Instead of encouraging candidates to apply even if they don’t meet all the requirements (as has become trendy)... let’s just have fewer requirements!

Often, what we think of as a requirement is really a “nice to have.” 

Try going through your list and asking yourself: Could an otherwise great candidate succeed in the role without this?

If the answer is yes, it’s not a requirement! It should be removed entirely or moved to the “nice to have” list.

Degree requirements

Candidates who come from underserved backgrounds are more likely to be educated via bootcamps or on-the-job training. And sometimes their demonstrated ability to learn this way is a big asset on the job!

So consider replacing degree requirements with the required skills or knowledge that you would expect candidates to have as a result of the degree program. For example, maybe your new engineer doesn’t really need a Computer Science degree. They just need a solid understanding of object-oriented programming.

This would open up your candidate pool to way more women, as less than 20% of Computer Science degrees go to women.

Years of experience requirements

Years of experience is not a straightforward metric. Every role has slightly (or wildly!) different duties and responsibilities. And while some roles are extremely demanding, others allow you to spend two hours a day subtly checking Instagram. 😅

At best, the years of experience you’re requiring are arbitrary. At worst, they’re eliminating really talented candidates from your pipeline.

Instead, consider reflecting on the experience and competencies you’re hoping that candidates will have learned in their prior roles and including those instead. 

For example, you could replace “2 years of B2B sales experience” with, “Relevant work experience in a B2B sales role where you were responsible for generating leads, and pitching products/services.”

Include a salary range

I’m not going to beat around the bush here… 

The number one thing you can do to increase the number of applicants for a role is to include a salary range and a list of benefits. 

It’s that simple! 

We’ve been running the Tech Ladies Job Board for years now, and this has always been true. But it’s become increasingly true post Covid, especially for the most in-demand candidates.

“Competitive salary” and “salary commensurate with experience” are vague terms without real meaning, and they don’t tell candidates anything. Especially in an increasingly remote industry, where market rates can vary wildly across locations.

Top candidates have their pick of workplaces and don’t want to waste their time by applying for a role that might not meet their salary requirements. (Especially considering how long some hiring processes have gotten.)

Candidates who are juggling a full-time job and caretaking responsibilities (like many women on the job hunt!) can feel this even more strongly. They only have so much time to dedicate to updating their resume, filling out applications, and so on. 

But this is just one reason to consider including a pay range in your job description. Pay transparency also helps reduce the gender pay gap and helps you stay compliant with a growing amount of equal pay legislation. 

Include a list of benefits & perks

Salary is a big part of your compensation package, but the benefits and perks that you offer matter a lot too.

In the US, health insurance in particular (the level of coverage and the amount covered by the company) can make a big difference in an employee’s take-home pay. But even “perks” like professional development, coworking, and/or wellness stipends can tell potential candidates a lot about your company.

After all, your exposed list of values tells candidates what you think you value. Your perks and benefits can show that you put your resources behind those values!

For example, a company can say they value women at work but not offering paid parental leave tells candidates a different story. 👀

A list of benefits and perks is a simple and valuable addition to any job description. Don’t overthink it—a bulleted list is fine! We even surveyed our community to find out which benefits and perks are most important to women in tech.

Check out Kensho, Project Ronin, and Turnstile to see how they include perks & benefits in their job descriptions.

Download our checklist

Creating more inclusive job descriptions is a process, and it usually requires buy-in from other people on your team. 

Our Inclusive Job Posting Checklist is a short-and-sweet summary of this post that you can share with your team via email or Slack to get them onboard with writing more inclusive job descriptions that will help you get the top candidates for your roles.

Caro is a senior operations leader and certified Senior HR Professional (SPHR). She joined Tech Ladies as employee #1 in 2020 before being promoted to General Manager in 2022.
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How to Write Inclusive Job Descriptions

Caro Griffin
Caro Griffin
Oct 18, 2023
 min read
How to Write Inclusive Job Descriptions