10 Subtle Barriers in Your Job Post Sabotaging Diversity

Every now and then we read of an egregious example of racism or bigotry manifesting itself in a company’s job posts. While those often get picked up by social media and news sites, those instances are (thankfully!) rare. Yet, far too often subtle diversity barriers are prevalent in many job posts.

However, every single day, well-intentioned hiring teams make choices that have a noticeable impact on the diversity of their candidate pipelines – and their time-to-fill. These often seem like innocuous phrases, content additions or omissions, or even minor gaffes, but they create butterfly effects that limit the visibility, reach, and appeal of a job and can disadvantage groups of people in your hiring process. They are your diversity barriers.

Battling this is a complex problem that is a result of the complexities in job search algorithms, application processes, assessment approaches, and our society itself. Datapeople studies these issues every single day using data from over 65 million jobs and millions of outcomes from 40,000 organizations around the world to help you combat these complexities and ensure you attract your target talent. 

Attracting a diverse and talented candidate pool requires intentionality. Unfortunately, many seemingly harmless aspects of your job posts can unintentionally create diversity barriers for qualified individuals. 

Here’s a look at 10 subtle yet impactful ways your job descriptions might be hindering diversity and representation in your hiring process:

1. Triggering the Confidence Gap

  • The Problem: Preferred qualifications and “rock star” language can discourage qualified women and candidates from historically under-represented backgrounds from applying, even if they meet core requirements.
  • The Solution: Focus on essential skills and experience and avoid overqualification or other language that could be exclusionary. Use inclusive language that emphasizes what the candidate can learn and grow in the role. 

2. Elitism

  • The Problem: Job descriptions mentioning “top-tier schools” or experience in “elite firms” limit your candidate pool to a privileged few. While degree requirements are still prevalent, their necessity is often overstated.
  • The Solution: Focus on skills and experience over pedigree and consider whether education requirements are truly instrumental for success in the role. Highlight opportunities for professional development to attract candidates of all backgrounds.

3. Unnecessary requirements

  • The Problem: Requiring public GitHub profiles (over 90% male users) or Six Sigma certifications (often sponsored by large companies) creates barriers for candidates from historically underrepresented backgrounds. Entry-level roles mandating prior internships (often unpaid) discourage applicants from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.
  • The Solution: Consider alternative ways to assess skills. Offer training programs for in-demand certifications. Emphasize opportunities for on-the-job learning in entry-level positions. For a hands-on look at how great companies banish unnecessary requirements, visit Good Job! Breaking Down Best-in-Class Qualifications.

4. Ageism

  • The Problem: Words like “seasoned,” “young team,” “high energy,” and “recent grad” can alienate experienced and enthusiastic candidates from different age groups. 
  • The Solution: Focus on skills and experience relevant to the job. Use inclusive language that conveys a dynamic work environment for all ages. List the minimum number of years of experience required, not a range or “desired experience” to help candidates better self-identify. (If you’re concerned about receiving applications from highly experienced candidates beyond your budget, consider adding a pay range, regardless of whether you’re recruiting in a location that requires pay transparency by law.) 
Reporting on different diversity barriers that are present in job posts

5. Overlooking ability

6. Racism

  • The Problem: Requiring “Native English speaker” excludes qualified multilingual candidates.
  • The Solution: Focus on the required level of communication skills needed for the role, not fluency in a specific language. Unconscious bias can take on many forms, training can help but instituting a platform like Datapeople can truly banish it from appearing. 

7. Exclusionary language

8. Gender identity blind spots

  • The Problem: Using male-gendered phrases such as “Latino” and “he/she” pronouns creates a binary view.
  • The Solution: Use inclusive terms like “Latinx” and gender-neutral pronouns like “they/them” to ensure your posts are inclusive and representative of your company culture. To instrument your team, consider deploying a platform like Datapeople to properly embrace diverse gender identities.

9. Tokenism

  • The Problem: Generic diversity statements and diversity statements that pander or tokenize candidates from under-represented backgrounds (“We welcome diverse candidates”) send an insincere message.
  • The Solution: Highlight specific initiatives you’ve implemented to foster a diverse and inclusive workplace. Contrary to common belief, direct sometimes dry legalese tends to perform best, especially with candidates from historically under-represented backgrounds. But that doesn’t mean you can’t let your company personality shine through like Deliveroo – as shown in Good Job! Breaking Down a Best-in-Class Diversity Statement – highlight their commitment to accommodating all talent, even joking that they’ll welcome a chef that may not even like food that much! 

10. Sloppiness

  • The Problem: Typos, excessively long descriptions, or incomplete information create a negative impression. Ineffective job posts also hinder their reach in search engines and lead to reliance on sourcing or referrals, which may not be diverse channels.
  • The Solution: Proofread carefully and keep descriptions concise and informative. Optimize job posts for search engines to reach a wider audience. And ensure the words you choose are intentional and descriptive, replacing soft skills that may confuse applicants
Job post reporting and demonstration of impact.

Instill lasting habits for institutional improvement

By addressing these subtle diversity barriers, you can create job descriptions that attract a talented and diverse pool of candidates, ultimately leading to a more successful and representative workforce. As Twitch found, there are tremendous benefits when focusing on the intentionality of your inclusive job posts. 

But don’t forget to monitor your progress. As a TA leader, diversity analytics offers an opportunity to anticipate and invest in closing gaps in equity for everyone. More importantly, it lets you understand the nuances of your unique recruiting process – and how it varies across your company – so you can make informed, targeted changes quickly.

At Datapeople, we understand the importance of creating an inclusive hiring process and are committed to helping our clients overcome these challenges. By working together, we can build more diverse and inclusive teams that drive innovation and success.

Are you ready to instill lasting habits and behaviors that secure the creation of inclusive job descriptions proven to attract top talent? Download The Talent Acquisition Mega Guide to Equitable Hiring in 2024 to answer any questions you might have about best practices and how you compare or get in contact with one of our experts for a personalized assessment

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