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Start with your job posting.

As an employer posting a job, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Perhaps the original context (thanks, Head and Shoulders!) feels a bit dated or gendered, but we know that when we examine the texts of job postings, a wide variety of cognitive biases are triggered and may impact whether or not we apply to a position. Below are some suggestions for how to make these postings more equitable:

  • Proofread your job postings for gendered language, social constructs, emotional responses, and questionable legal language. Examples: “Our ideal candidate fosters learning, growth, kindness, and community” uses language that is typically understood as feminine. “Entrepreneurial, dynamic, and with strong writing skills” uses language that is typically understood as masculine.

  • Make sure that what you’re including is measurable and concrete. Example: “We are seeking an enthusiastic and creative Director of Jewish Learning”: How will you measure or assess your candidates for enthusiasm and creativity?

  • Ensure that the job posting is directed to your prospective employees and describes the position’s responsibilities, not just the goals of your organization. Advertisements that talk just about the organization and their goals lose out on describing their ideal candidate and engaging with prospective employees.

  • Make sure the job posting is inviting and exciting: write something that will energize applicants, and make them enthusiastic about the prospect of joining your team or organization.

  • Recall the distinction between a job posting or advertisement and a job description. Postings or advertisements are written to convey clear information about the position, intended to understand the essential framework for the role and the broad scope of the position. These job postings should not be exhaustive lists of competencies, responsibilities, qualifications, or expected outcomes and outputs associated with a position. Make sure that you distinguish between an advertisement for an open position and a job description that might later be appended to a letter of hire or a contract that describes a person’s full scope of work and obligations.

Short, clear job postings invite candidates to apply for open positions and excite them about the prospect of joining your team. Lengthy job descriptions, which might be left over from a previous employee or include content geared toward performance management, may share more about the organization than about the actual position. Recognize that a job posting is only one small part of the larger hiring process, too. These should be an open door to further dialogue, and yours should be that opportunity to invite in as wide a network of potential candidates as possible.

Join us for a workshop, request a consultation on writing equitable job postings, or if you’re a member of our Gender Equity Advocates Network, access our Equitable Hiring Checklist as part of our emerging Equitable Hiring Resource Bank.

Jewish Organizations: as you know, hiring is BACK. We’ll be piloting our new hiring workshop on excellent and equitable job descriptions this fall. Your job descriptions can be better. In fact, they can be more than better, they can be both excellent and equitable, and can get the best candidate hired. We’ll be working with 3-5 organizational teams who are joining us in a design experiment grounded in our original job description workshops. While we closed out our initial cohort on April 1, if you are interested in being an alternate, drop us an email and we’ll let you know if there’s extra room for your organizational team of 2-3 people


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