Is your company struggling to attract female applicants for an open position? Your job posting could be to blame.

Studies show, men apply for a job when they feel they meet only 60% of the qualifications. However, women apply only if they believe they meet 100% of the qualifications. But it’s not just the listed qualifications of a position that keep women from applying. And many of the job listing barriers are easy to fix.  Here are five things you can adjust to make your job postings more gender-friendly:

 1. Reconsider your list of major requirements.

As previously mentioned, one reason women are not applying for jobs is because they assume they won’t get hired if they don’t fulfill every qualification listed in the job post even if they are confident in their ability to do the job well. Women tend to view the list of qualifications on a job posting as absolutely necessary, whereas men see the list as more of a wishlist for the perfect employee.

In order to attract more female applicants, companies could review their list of qualifications for each position and consider if they are truly “requirements” or if they would simply be nice skills for a future employee to have. Then, only list the “requirements” in the job posting.

2. Use growth mindset phrases.

A recent report by Paradigm, a diversity strategy firm, and Textio, a software company that optimizes job posts, measured the statistical performance of growth mindset phrases and found jobs where women are hired are twice as likely to contain growth mindset language. Women respond better to job posts that utilize growth mindset language.

Growth mindset language includes phrases like “commitment to improvement” or “highly determined,” as opposed to fixed mindset terms like “high performer,” “genius,” or “overachiever.”  Using growth mindset phrases will not only attract more women but also decrease the time it takes to fill a position.

In fact, not only will growth mindset language attract more women, it improves time-to-fill ratios. Specifically, the growth mindset phrases “learn new things,” highly motivated,” “love learning” and “strive” exert a 5x impact on time-to-fill AND attract more women to apply. Seems like a win-win.

3. Be aware of gender-themed words (and use of pronouns).

It’s possible you didn’t even know words could be masculine-themed. Analysis from language tool Textio found gender language bias in your job postings predicts the gender of the person you’re going to hire.

Words like active, analytical, competitive, dominate, confident, determined, independent, and objective are all masculine-themed words. While words like committed, cooperative, dependable, interpersonal, loyal, responsible, supportive, and trust are more feminine-themed.  Job descriptions that focus too heavily on either of these types of words can dissuade individuals from applying. A truly gender-friendly job posting would use a mixture of both of these types of words in order to indicate that the job is open to all genders.

While at it, double check pronouns. When describing the task of the ideal candidate, use “s/he” or “you” or “the employee.”

4. Emphasize learning opportunities and the value of an employee.

Job postings that mention learning opportunities—like training or mentorship programs—show a company aims to better their employees. This can help alleviate the fear a potential female applicant may have of under-qualification. But it also hints to the value a company places on investing in its employees. Statistically, women want to feel valued at work. If there is a way to communicate your company culture and that they will be valued, that can increase applicants for your job.

5. Emphasize unique company benefits family-friendly benefits.

Forbes reported, in a 2018 Deloitte Millennials survey, almost 40% of respondents stated that the goal of business should be to ‘improve society.’ And in an earlier study by the Intelligence Group, 64% of millennials said it was a priority for them to make the world a better place, while 88% wanted ‘work-life integration.’

If your company values are well-defined or if your employees have an edge on work-life integration, infuse the concepts into your job description. Make sure to mention company causes or community benefits, parental leave plans and flextime options. Let candidates know what you offer and why working for your company can be such a great value-ad compared to your competitors

Crafting gender-friendly job postings is an essential first step in creating a truly gender-balanced workplace, but it is often neglected in the conversation about workplace equality. If there is an increase of qualified female candidates, there will be a subsequent increase of female employees. Without this crucial step, it will be difficult to see the amount of gender equality we strive to create.

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