How to write an effective and unbiased job description

We have talked before about how job descriptions are one of the most significant sources of imposter syndrome. Why don’t we find a more effective format and address the bias built into this process? In this episode, we will look at the common problems when we start the process, the basics of the great job description, how to remove bias from your job descriptions, and how to go beyond the JD to do more to make hiring a better and more equitable process.

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We have talked before about how job descriptions are one of the biggest sources of imposter syndrome. They ask for everything under the sun, all sound the same and are a huge part of why the hiring process is so broken. I still laugh about the company last year that asked for 5 years of experience in Figma or XD when those programs have only been in existence for 3 years.

Why is it if these are such a huge problem and are often the start of why companies aren’t more innovative then why don’t we work to fix them? And we also know that there is a ton of bias built into this process and job descriptions so why aren’t we taking on these problems to do better? In this episode, we will look at the common problems when we start the process, the basics of the great job description, how to remove bias from your job descriptions, and how to go beyond the JD to do more to make hiring a better and more equitable process.

How NOT to start the process

Let HR and recruiting do all the work
No one is going to know your team and what you need better than you so don’t make the all too common mistake of letting HR and recruiting do all of it for you.
I know this is tempting since no one went to art school or wanted to be a creative to write job descriptions.
They aren’t sexy or fun but they are the foundation of building a great team.

Don’t use the same tired format your company always uses
Just like how we all tell creatives to invest in their resume and portfolio because it is their first introduction – this is the exact same thing but its the first introduction to your company and team
Use that chance to have a format and content that will help you stand out from the crowd and show people this is a place they should want to work for

Don’t go to Linkedin Jobs, search for the title you want, and copy from the first few listings you find there
We all have done it so just admit it. The problem is this job description in-breeding has been a massive part of why most JD’s don’t work
Take the time to think for yourself. See this as the first introduction and make it count.

The basics

Role reports to
Sounds super simple to have something like this in a job description but most JD’s don’t have it and people want to know

Role and Responsibilities
This is the basic part we have all seen a million times so maybe take the time actually say something real about the role what they will do and your team.

Year one critical success factors
I think this is a massive part of how job descriptions need to evolve.
Some places will list KPI’s which I think are a step in the right direction but those are business goals and it can be hard to know how to translate those into what you will do at a company you don’t work for.
I know it is more work but I think we can go deep and do better.
I like to take the time to really think about and list out what are the critical success factors, behaviors, and skills they will need to be successful in the first year with our team.

Skills agains goes back to the more traditional format we have all seen before
But I think it is important to have these but take the time to make them real and make sure they are skills your team really has

Characteristics you will need to demonstrate every day
This is a really important part for me as I like to hire for grit, creativity, and passion as I know I can teach things like design apps, processes, etc.
This is where I want to define what really matters and what are things that will let you really thrive
These things are not science fiction but real attitudes, approaches, and morals we will evaluate during the interview process.
For example – Walks your talk: A person of humility and integrity consistently acts in line with a clear and visible set of values and beliefs. You walk your talk and are direct and truthful but at the same time can keep confidences.

Remove the bias from job descriptions

Yes there is almost always some huge biases built into job descriptions. I had this realization a few years ago as I always describe creatives as the kids that survive to be able to do this for a living. The realization is the amount of opportunity and privilege that needs to exist for you to be able to stay a kids for that long for it to be a possibility.

Use gender neutral titles and check pronouns in your descriptions in job descriptions
Certain words that are gendered and imply a gender for your role. Terms such as ‘guru’, ‘hacker’, or even ‘rockstar’ for the more flamboyant descriptions, can, in fact, reduce the number of applications you receive. This is because these terms are perceived as masculine, and therefore geared towards a male candidate, in turn, reducing the number of female applications.

Remove superlatives
By removing superlative phrases and words from a job description you’ll actually end up encouraging a wider group of people to apply for the role. Yes, we all want to employ someone who is flawless, superb, prodigious, first-rate, formidable, unique, and unsurpassed, but these styles of words will put people off applying.

Limit the number of requirements
The more in-depth and specific a job description is, the less likely a qualified or near-qualified non white male will apply for it.

Reconsider your major requirements.
There is often a huge amount of bias built into the requirements we ask for in an applicant.
• College education
• Years of experience
• Industry experience

Two tools that can help
Textio – https://textio.com
OnGig – https://www.ongig.com/

You can also do more than just the job descriptions

• Set diverse candidate standards
• Go blind for the resume review
• Standardize interviews
• Give a work sample test
• State your family-friendly benefits
• Express your commitment to equality and diversity

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