Focus on inclusive job advertising

It is important to think about the language you use in your organisation's external communication - for instance in your job ads. Adjustments in the use of language will not completely solve problems of inclusion. This awareness of language does, however, provide a context for communication and interaction. Language plays a crucial role in inclusive recruitment and selection strategies. 

"You just can't ignore it as a person and as a company any longer. Our society is super diverse and that is not going to change. It will only become more diverse. And you also notice this in the social discussions that are going on. If a brand or company is not aware of this shift, it will become irrelevant within a few decades (or even earlier). You have to be aware of this as a company."

Hanan Challouki, expert inclusive communication

Points to consider for inclusive vacancy ad copy

'He is able to use the supervisory role to introduce new perspectives, with an eye for practicality and societal benefit.'

Many questions arise about this sentence in a job ad. Are they looking for a man? What exactly do they expect from this person?

Inclusive recruitment makes sure the vacancy copy appeals to everyone, and excludes no one. Some tips:

  • mention the organisational culture and the self-development and advancement opportunities
  • clarify criteria in the vacancy text
  • avoid stereotyping
  • include relevant job requirements
  • identify the added value of diversity
  • include photos in the vacancy text

8 tips for a more inclusive job announcement

The diversity clause

A diversity clause expresses clearly that everyone is welcome. An example: 'We select candidates based on their talents and competences regardless of age, religion, gender, origin, sexual orientation or disability.'

Use this statement in recruitment ads if inclusion is really supported by your organisation. This positioning is definitely strengthened when it is reflected in your organization's goals, mission and vision. Put the clause at the head of your vacancy text.

Reduce the number of job requirements

What are the top qualities of a good employee?

Take a close look at the job requirements when writing a vacancy text. First list all requirements, then delete those the duplicates or synonyms. Select 4 to 5 essential requirements for the job.

Take into account your own prejudices

How do you write a vacancy text? Is it often done on the basis of a visual of someone who looks like you or someone you know?

So, be aware of your own prejudices when writing a vacancy text. Try not to see yourself as the norm, but look at the text from a different perspective. Curious about your own prejudices as a recruiter? The building block Avoid (un)conscious prejudice covers this in more detail. 

Address your reader

Try to address the reader in the vacancy text. Use 'You are' rather than 'We are looking for'. Candidates often don't respond because they fear they will not fit in anyway. This means there is no identification with the job or the employer. Try including a quote from a member of the target group that you want to attract, so that the threshold is lowered and the potential candidate actually responds effectively.

How do you phrase terms of employment?

Mention the terms of employment that build the inclusivity of the organisation. Mention, for example, the option to choose holidays freely, according to one's own belief.

Where is your target audience?

You don’t appeal to your target candidates? Explore how you to reach them better, and dare to step off the well-trodden path in recruiting employees. Not sure where to start? See Expand your recruitment channels, in this D&I kit, for practical tips and tricks. 

The gender gap in language

Words have gender connotations. Do you also want to attract women with your vacancy text? Use words with a female gender connotation. Women find that more attractive and men have no real preference here. 

Some tips:

  • use gender-neutral job positions, e.g. 'scientist' instead of 'scientist m/f'

  • use adjectives with the correct connotation: feminine or neutral adjectives appeal more to women than male-gendered ones

  • describe competences as behaviour: describe personal characteristics as behaviour (how one operates) rather than as a characteristic (how one is)

Develop your sensitivity to inclusive language

Phrases such as 'Every Friday evening we have end-of-the-week drinks' and 'We organise fun activities at Sinterklaas and Easter' may be quite acceptable. They describe the atmosphere in which the candidate will work and will also appeal to many people.

However, if you want to attract a more diverse candidates, it's recommended to develop your sensitivity to inclusive language and look critically at this kind of content. What, for instance, if your potential candidate does not drink alcohol or celebrates other holidays? The chances are that this job seeker will not feel addressed, and will not respond to your vacancy text. So, consider carefully what you do and do not include in your vacancy texts. Choose rather to mention things that are more inclusive, such as flexible hours, a healthy work-life balance and extensive leave options.

What about visuals?

Just as you pay attention to the use of language, you should also consider how you choose the visuals in your vacancy text. Do the selected visuals communicate inclusion? Are copy and visuals in tune with each other? 

Use realistic visuals so candidates see themselves reflected and feel addressed. And use them only if they effectively correspond to the reality on the work floor. Some tips for inclusive use of visuals:

1. Put diversity literally in the picture:

  • 1 out of 3 Belgians of working age has a migrant background.
  • 51% of the Belgian population identifies as female.
  • 19% of Belgians older than 15 years have a health-related disability.

2. Use counter stereotypes. Show people who contradict the expected stereotypes. For example, don't only portray male technicians, but also females. Or are the employees in the visuals mostly white, young and without (occupational) disabilities?

3. Visuals are subjective. So, test whether your message and visual communicate well with your target group. Try to also include people from minority groups in communication, on a variety of topics, not only topics related to diversity.

4. Use subtitling or transcription for video material, so that it is accessible to a broad audience.

5. Your visuals must be both realistic and authentic. Don't, for example, try to include the full range of diversity in one visual, or resort to stereotypes. There is also diversity within diversity. And there is an absolute need to build a positive image.

Where do you find visuals?

There are countless databases with visuals that reflect diversity in all its facets, such as Pexels, Unsplash and Nappy.

Use vacancy videos

Vacancy texts are often unoriginal and not authentic. The texts don’t give a real picture of the organisation and they can easily be copied between platforms and companies. A more authentic way to recruit candidates is with a vacancy video.  

A short video is used to promote the vacancy and give future employees an insight into the company. The candidates get to see the real people behind the ads and feel more connected to the organisation. This is also the time to highlight diversity in the organisation in an authentic way.

A video provides the opportunity to explain a new job, without long descriptions. The world of recruitment and HR has changed significantly in recent years and is almost completely digitised. A vacancy video facilitates the recruitment process and ensures a faster and better match.

Not possible to make a video for each vacancy? By means of a short film about how it operates, you can give the applicant a general impression of your organisation. Distribute this video together with other communication about a new vacancy.