How to change job descriptions to hire more women?

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“Are you an expert with 5 years’ experience in the energy / utilities industry?  Do you have what it takes to work in the UKs most exciting, fast-paced, high-powered start-up? If you work hard, play hard, and love a free beer at the end of a very successful day, this job is for you. Beat the competition and apply below!” 

This is not a great example of a job description to attract women! Women respond to job adverts differently to men.  They will generally only apply for jobs when they believe they meet 100% of the qualifications listed. Whereas men will apply if they meet only 60% of the job requirements.

So, if you want to encourage diversity and get more women to apply for your jobs, here are some tips to revamp your job descriptions:

Maintain Gender Balanced terms

Be conscience of gender-themed words.  Studies have shown potential applicants found that using masculine-themed words such as active, competitive and objective made job descriptions less appealing to women.  Women are more likely to respond to gender-neutral or gender-balanced job adverts. These are adverts with with more feminine-themed words such as community, dependable, responsible, and committed.  Using more female-friendly language, implies an open, inclusive culture that supports learning and encourages collaboration over competition.


Minimise essential requirements

Women still lack confidence to apply for a job if they don’t meet all of the criteria. They often suffer Imposter Syndrome, assuming incorrectly, they are not as good as their male counterparts.  So why not remove requirements that aren’t absolutely essential? Instead, focus on the type of person you want to hire. Also, include how you’ll help them to grow in your organisation. Focus more on so-called soft skills, and less on technical words.  Someone who is well-educated, dedicated, a quick learner, and adaptable–will be able to pick up new skills very quickly.


Swap characteristics for behaviours. 

For example, change:

  • “results-oriented” to “ability to take initiative and produce results”
  • “people-person” to “ability to collaborate effectively with a team”
  • “action-oriented” to “ability to problem-solve and resolve issues”

Adopt a growth not fixed mindset

Highlight that you are prepared to develop those working for your business.  Not only with formal training, but also mentorship programs.  This demonstrates you are willing to hire candidates who may not tick every box, but that you are prepared to mentor and develop your people – something women respond to very well.


Focus on diversity (and mean it!)

Understandably, women often look for companies that promote and encourage diversity. If you are one of those companies, make sure it’s obvious by having your diversity policy on your job descriptions and links to your website demonstrating the same.


Not everyone wants “forced fun”

The “work hard, play hard” culture with social activities after work also screams a masculine culture, and the expectation employees have to be in the office for long hours.  However, mothers with children can still put in a hard days’ work, but want to get home to their families, and so are looking for a more flexible working environment.

Family-friendly policies

Research has shown that women want to see family-friendly policies in job descriptions when applying for a job, and to feel comfortable asking questions about them during the interview process.  A female with children is going to value flexibility and the option to work from home. So think about mentioning on job descriptions flexible working, the opportunity to work part time or remotely, and about your progressive maternity and paternity policies.  Sharing salary ranges may also signal to women that your company is committed to pay transparency and fairness.


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