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What are words worth?

The last time you recruited a new hire, how much thought did you put into the job advert? What words did you use to describe this scintillating opportunity for some lucky job hunter?

According to a recent Glassdoor survey, the average time to hire (the period between your first contact with the candidate and them starting in their new job) in the UK is 27.5 days. It’s the time spent in hiring that makes it an expensive process. Not one you want to repeat unnecessarily - especially as unemployment continues to fall.

In essence, a job advert is an attractive sales pitch, extolling the virtues of working in your wonderful organisation. Or maybe it’s bait designed to catch and land the best candidate. However you look at it, the words are important because whether it’s online or in print, after the colour of the advert, the layout and your logo, the words are all there are. However, recent research suggests that most employers aren’t really thinking about such things…

Different words have different appeal

On behalf of LinkedIn, Censuswide led a survey of more than 1,000 employees and 250 hiring managers in the UK. They found some significant differences in how male and female candidates respond to the wording of job adverts. For example:

  • Describing a workplace as having an “aggressive” environment is off-putting to 32% of male candidates and 52% of female.
  • The phrase “born leader” is similarly off-putting to 17% of men but 24% of women.
  • In terms of what attracts a candidate, salary came out top for both sexes. After that, the amount of annual leave was a priority for 48% of men and 61% of women. Whereas opportunities for flexible working were important to 47% of men and 54% of women.
  • Finally, 40% of employers never even consider differences between male and female applicants when writing a job advert.

Having worked with LinkedIn on the study, Rosie Campbell, Director of the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King's College London, says, “Getting the wording of an advert right can be key for attracting the right candidate. Previous experiments have demonstrated that the use of certain types of masculine coded language reduces the likelihood that women will respond to advertisements.”

Why your words matter to your business

What’s the goal is for any job advert? In the simplest terms, surely it’s to get the best possible candidate for the job. And it makes sense to think about exactly who your advert might (and might not) appeal to. Given that for almost any job the best possible candidate could potentially be either male or female, it makes no business sense whatsoever to limit the potential applications for your job vacancy by using wording that discourages qualified candidates.

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