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Writing better job descriptions

A list of tips by the National Center for Women and Information Technology
University Business, August 2017

The words used in job descriptions can affect who applies, research has shown.

Terms associated with masculine stereotypes—like aggressive, ambitious and leader—might deter female candidates.

Removing these can increase the number of applicants by 42 percent, according to data from ZipRecruiter, an online hiring platform.


Link to main story: Breaking the tech ceiling


The National Center for Women and Information Technology created a comprehensive list of tips for writing job ads that reduce unconscious bias:

  • Avoid superlatives: Rather than phrases like “best of the best” and “off the charts”—which might turn off women who were taught not to flaunt their skills—use alternatives such as innovative, curious, respected and thoughtful.
  • Skip gendered pronouns: Words like manpower and chairman have no place in a job description. Use “staffing,” “workforce” or “chair” instead.
  • Rethink “required” qualifications: Does the CIO need an advanced degree in computer science? Separate the truly essential skills from those that could be learned on the job. Women are less likely than men to apply unless they have all of the required qualifications, according to research by Tara Mohr, an expert on women’s leadership and the author of Playing Big: Find Your Voice, Your Mission, Your Message (Gotham, 2014).
  • Choose diverse graphics: Do current job ads feature a graphic with a group of men standing around a computer? The image may convey that it’s not a female-friendly place to work.

For additional tips on writing more inclusive job descriptions, visit www.ncwit.org.

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