What does your job posting say about the company?
Faced with growing pressure to achieve 50/50 male to female ratios, while simultaneously achieving ethnic mixes that closely match the general population, companies are attempting to optimize their job postings to attract diversity candidates. For the most part it isn’t working. Why? What a word or phrase means to one segment of the population, doesn’t always translate well to all demographics.
How we can help
Broad Listening is currently developing a Job Posting Optimization tool. The tool uses the Broad Listening Artificial Emotional Intelligence Engine to help companies optimize their posts for the type of person they are looking to attract.
The system is two-part. The first is telling the author what kind of person the posting will resonate with. The second is a set of hints to aid the author in tuning their posting to better reach their desired audience.
The tool will be free for non-profits.
Broad Listening is committed to creating a diverse work force and enabling anyone with the talent and desire to succeed in their goals. Broad Listening is a proud sponsor of CodingFTW.
The Job Posting Optimization Tool does a bit more than just determine if your text is likely to resonate with candidates.
Leveraging the power of big data, Broad Listening provides information about what the typical duties of a specific role are, the median pay for the role, typical education level for people filling similar roles, along with a break down of the diversity gap for workers currently employed in similar positions.
Hiring Managers can use this data to determine if they are competitive in the space. The company will have greater visibility in seeing whether they are ahead or behind the industry in diversity for a given role. Depending on where the company is relative to the competition, the data can be used to set expectations for how likely a strong candidate will be found quickly.
To help with filling roles quickly the tool provides insights into the motivations of people currently seeking similar roles coupled with suggestions for how to optimize copy to attract candidates.
Intention vs. Perception
Family Friendly: This is typically included in postings to mean you won’t work long hours and there is some flexibility around bringing kids to work.
What it means to diversity candidates: This can be easily interpreted as meaning the company prefers to hire those who fall into traditional gender roles. If you aren’t married with 2.1 kids, please don’t apply.
Work From Home: Included to mean you don’t have to come in the office, which is designed to attract people who prefer a more flexible work schedule. The intent is often to attract stay-at-home mom’s or people who would commute long distances if they were required to be in the office.
What it means to diversity candidates: This is a job with no upward mobility suitable for ugly people who won’t blend with the beautiful people in the office. The hearing impaired need not apply since reading lips over skype is an exercise in futility.
Paid Maternity Leave: Specifically included to attract 30-something women.
What it means to diversity candidates: Employer anticipates female candidates will pregnant in the next 2 years, which will be when a male counterpart gets promoted. Also, if you are a gay male, someone who will either never have children or is past the years of childbirth, don’t expect to be treated well.
Project/Contract to Hire: Designed to attract contractors with the hope of a salaried position after a few months.
What it means to diversity candidates: We have interviewed people for a full time position, but we failed to find a qualified candidate, or all available candidates wanted too much money, but we still need someone to do the job. When the project is complete, there may or may not be a full time job available.
Diversity Candidates Welcomed: This is typically a way to say, “our company is too white and/or too male, we welcome some color.”
What it means to diversity candidates: This company is too white, too male, or both and our customers have begun to notice. We will pay you more than you are worth now, but you have zero chance to be promoted.
Nurture/Nurturing: Most HR people read the study that said this was the keyword for attracting women. What they missed is that the study was for roles in medical or healthcare fields, not for the general population.
What it means to diversity candidates: This is a company where women are expected to act like women. Women will be expected to baby their male co-workers, train those around them, and be submissive when men are promoted above them.
Develop Warm Relationships: A phrase from that same study that is supposed to evoke an emotional response in stay-at-home moms who are seeking to return to work.
What it means to diversity candidates: The company expects you to sleep with clients or upper management or both. Or at least make the clients think you might.
How do you avoid sending the wrong message?
Focus on the role, not the persona. A job description that says what a person will do and the qualifications they need to succeed in the role has universal appeal. As a company what you want is someone who can do the job. Candidate want a job they can succeed at. The goals are aligned. It is only when the goal becomes to attract specific personas that they fall out of alignment. Focusing on a personality type to match a role works, but not a persona. That subtlety is lost on many people.
Most of the best developers are Intuitive Thinkers, rather than Sensing Feelers. INTJ, ENTJ, etc, not ISFP or ESFJ. They respond to stats, and statements about the future. Saying something like, “We believe 80% of our success comes from 20% of our employees, and this position is an opportunity to be one of the 20% who grow and achieve success with us,” is hugely powerful to those types of thinkers. It works for either gender.
If you are hiring marketing people who tend to be Extroverted Feelers those statistics may work for some, but “This position is an opportunity to build prestige in the industry, and grow not only our client base, but your network” will work better, and again with either gender.
Some personality types will be primarily male. INTJ’s are 5 times more likely to be male. ESFPs are 4 times more likely to be female. If a position is sure to attract a lot of candidates, it may not need a posting tuned to attract more of one or another. If on the other hand a company is certain they want a female for a given role, likely what they need to do is not stuff the position with words about babies and emotions, but instead think about what aspects they can feature that will attract a compatible personality.
It shouldn’t be surprising to learn that the phrases that are best for attracting diversity candidates are phrases that attract good candidates.
Performance Based Advancement: It means what it sounds like. If you do well you will get promoted.
What it means to diversity candidates: My pay won’t be tied to my appearance.
Diverse Team: Diversity may be in skill sets, backgrounds, race, gender, or age.
What it means to diversity candidates: You won’t be turned away for your gender, your sexual orientation, or dressing in a way that doesn’t fit the norm.
Flexible Environment: This doesn’t mean flexible hours, or work from home. It can. What it means is we will make the workplace work for you if you are worth it.
What it means to diversity candidates: My employer will value me enough to remove barriers. If I can’t hear well, they will work more by email. If I have a religious event on the equinox midweek they will work with me to support my beliefs.