Equality | The impact of gender bias on candidate attraction

The impact of gender bias on candidate attraction
The impact of gender bias on candidate attraction

The quality of a job description can dramatically impact the quality and quantity of candidates it attracts. This point is pulled sharply into focus when you consider candidate scarcity continues to be the number one hiring challenge for in-house teams and recruitment firms (Source: The 2017 Candidate Attraction Report – a free 60 page report for planning your attraction strategy).

Job descriptions and advertisements provide an insight into the role, the organisation and the culture, so it’s vitally important that they are geared to attract the right candidates.

However, have you ever given any thought to the psychology of your job descriptions? Academic research has shown that job descriptions can be unknowingly gender-coded and often include more masculine or feminine words, which can deter candidates.

Based on this research, Eploy created Check My Job - a free job description checking tool, which can analyse the gender bias of your job description. Check My Job also analyses your job description against other critical success factors such as length of job descriptions and the inclusion of equal opportunities statements.

Thousands of recruiters have used Check My Job to test their job descriptions and based on this data, we can now begin to form a picture of the quality of job descriptions in the UK. Here are the findings:

What is the most common gender bias?

From a sample of 500 Check My Job submissions using the Eploy tool, 66% of job ads were feminine-coded adverts compared to 34% masculine. This is great news for those looking to attract a diverse range of candidates. Based on the academic research, feminine or neutrally coded job descriptions tend to attract both male and female candidates.

Examples of gender bias

From the same sample data, the most commonly used masculine word is ‘lead’/’leading’ closely followed by ‘opinion’, ‘decision’ and ‘competitive. For example, phrases like ‘head-up’, ‘direct’ and ‘supervise’ could be used as synonyms for ‘lead’ to make the ads more gender neutral. It is worth checking your ads and job descriptions to see how they can be improved to attract a wider range of candidates before placing them. Eradicating gender bias could result in a better return on your time and effort.

You can read more about the academic work of Gaucher, Friesen and Kay and the testing of gender code with example job descriptions in a previous Eploy blog.

Equal opportunities statement within job descriptions

Perhaps the most surprising finding is that 96% of job descriptions tested in Eploy’s Check My Job tool do not include an equal opportunities statement. While equal opportunity statements are not mandatory in the UK, it is regarded as best practice to position your organisation as one that supports diversity and inclusion in the workplace and welcomes applications from all sections of the community.

Examples of equal opportunity statements, templates and the CIPD viewpoint are listed in the further reading section at the end of this insight – practical ways to make improvements.

Average length of job description

Job board Appcast.io believe that descriptions between 1,000-2,000 characters achieve a click to apply rate of around 6.7%. However, the study notes that job descriptions between 2,000 to 10,000 characters can achieve a click to apply rate five times higher, spiking at 15% for descriptions between 4,000 – 5,000 characters.

The average Check My Job submission from the sample is 3,260 characters. While this length of job description will likely receive a click to apply rate of around 7%, it still falls below the optimal length.

By including more relevant detail within job descriptions, recruiters could expect to achieve a click to apply rate of around 15% - optimising the return on investment.  That said, keep it relevant – what are you offering and what a candidate can expect.

Candidate attraction sourcing channels

Hopefully, this has given some food for thought around how the quality of a job description can impact the quality and quantity of candidates it attracts. When you have a job description that focuses on attracting candidates, you can then turn to what are the best sourcing channels to target and attract candidates - and we know a thing or two about that too….  

The UK Candidate Attraction Survey 2018 is currently runningand all recruitment teams are invited to take part and rate each of their candidate sourcing channels for the quantity and quality of candidates they generate. Once the survey closes, results are aggregated into ‘Sourcing Quadrants’ for each channel, sectors and size of organisation.

As an added incentive, anyone who completes the survey can enter the prize draw to win £250 Amazon vouchers and will get a free copy of the report when released later in the year.  

Last year’s survey is still available to download too and it’s free so get your copy today!

Further reading & resources

Equal opportunities & diversity in the workplace

  1. www.human-resource-solutions.co.uk
  2. www.cipd.co.uk
  3. http://www.acas.org.uk

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