Around the 1700s, history reports the first job postings popping up along the shores and docks. “Men wanted for hazardous journey. Safe return doubtful.” They say over 5000 people lined up to interview for that job. Seriously.
Fast-forward three hundred years, and the postings don’t look much different from today. Made-up job titles. Miscellaneous recommendations about years of experience. Bullshit benefit lists.
However, there is one distinct difference that stands out: the gendered language and blatant racism. There was no concern for inclusive job postings. A lot of them said “the man wanted” or “white and colored.” Back then, they didn’t think twice about bias or gender discrimination.
While the last 300 years has removed that biased language, it hasn’t removed the bias. Some of the same techniques that infused discrimination all those years ago are still practiced every day.
As companies invest in action to become more inclusive, we also need to evolve the way we talk about work to attract and recruit diverse populations. We need to break the 300+-year-old rules that never really worked in the first place.
Breaking Down inclusive Job Postings
When I created my new online job posting course, I knew inclusion would come up. How do you make sure job posts aren’t pushing people of color away? What rules should we be breaking?
I didn’t want inclusion to be a chapter or a bookmark in the conversation. I wanted to make sure every part of our formula was considerate of the audience and unique backgrounds. In that effort, we reworked every part of our Three Ears Media Job Post Formula with deep-dive data and recommendations that have produced results.
A few weeks ago when I spoke with Michelle Manafy at Inc.com for a post called “Fix Your Recruiting Messages to Attract Diverse Candidates,” I shared three standard “requirements” that I think need to be reconsidered, if not canceled:
- Years of experience requirements are made up. We pick numbers out of a hat. You’re just looking for people who have applied their skills on similar projects, not years.
- College is not affordable for everyone and doesn’t make you a better candidate. Experience does. By requiring information about degrees and schools attended, employers may exclude qualified candidates with highly relevant experience.
- Most startup culture statements are cringe-worthy for anyone who didn’t go to the same Ivy League school as your CEO. Culture content is often a veiled way of saying, “we think of ways not to hire diverse people.”
Note: Before you ever get to the messaging, you must address the issues hidden away in corporate closets and fire racists. Inclusive job postings aren’t going to make your workplace better or attract diverse candidates that will stay despite a broken culture.
If you’re ready to write inclusive job postings, make sure you get the latest update on my new online course.
Katrina Kibben is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Three Ears Media. For most of Katrina’s career, she has been a marketer living in a recruiter’s world – listening to both sides of the talent equation to understand the real issues and find solutions for engaging and hiring better people. Today, she uses her technical marketing know-how and way with words to help both established and emerging brands develop and deliver content that fuels smart recruitment marketing that makes the right people apply.
Katrina has written for Monster.com, HR.com, RecruitingDaily and many other digital publications. She is a recognized leader in recruiting and employer branding who speaks regularly at conferences around the world.