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Are Your Job Descriptions Scaring Away Candidates?

  • Publish Date: Posted 19 days ago
  • Author:by Ryan McQuitty

​Introduction

Job advertisements are the gateway through which potential candidates gauge their suitability for roles. However, the emphasis on traits such as being "social," "a team player," or an "excellent communicator" can inadvertently narrow the pool by deterring neurodivergent individuals who might interpret these terms as requiring types of social interaction that don't align with their unique strengths.

The Role of Language in Job Advertisements

Language not only communicates the basic requirements of a job but also sets the tone for who feels welcome to apply. Phrases that stress the need for social adeptness can exclude those who may not see themselves as fitting the traditional social mould but are nonetheless highly skilled.

Below I've shared an image below of a skills assessment that a candidate was asked to complete to apply for a role. The assessment asks, "when interacting with someone, it can be difficult to read their nonverbal cues. Agree or Disagree?"

Need I say more?

an image below of a skills assessment that a candidate was asked to complete to apply for a role. The assessment asks, "when interacting with someone, it can be difficult to read their nonverbal cues. Agree or Disagree?"

Examples of Biased Language and Its Impact

Terms like "dynamic team players" or "natural leaders" often populate job descriptions and can be daunting for someone who is neurodivergent. For instance, an autistic individual might hesitate to apply for a role that requires "excellent social skills," fearing they must conform to neurotypical standards of social interaction, even if their method of communication and teamwork is effective but non-conventional.

Real Stories and Experiences

I recently worked with a candidate who shared their experiences with me. They were diagnosed with ASD as a child and have tried to keep their diagnosis from employers because they fear discrimination. This candidate is a highly skilled Data Analyst, who avoids applying for roles that describe the ideal candidate as "highly sociable" or "outgoing." They feel these roles would not accommodate their preference for deep, focused work with minimal social interruptions, despite their exceptional analytical skills.

Rethinking Recruitment Language

It is vital for employers to reconsider their wording, as this can lead to more inclusive job descriptions. Instead of seeking "highly sociable" candidates, job adverts could specify the need for "effective client engagement through multiple communication channels." Such phrasing opens positions to individuals who excel in written communication or structured interactions, broadening the diversity of applicants.

Strategies for Inclusive Recruitment

To foster a more inclusive recruitment environment, organisations can adopt several strategies:

  • Bias Training: Regular training for hiring teams can help in recognising and reducing unconscious biases that affect recruitment.

  • Structured Interviews: Focus on skills and task-based evaluations during interviews, rather than subjective assessments of a candidate's social demeanour.

  • Feedback Loops: Establish mechanisms for candidates to provide feedback on the recruitment process, particularly in terms of inclusivity and accessibility, helping organisations to continuously improve.

Conclusion

The wording used in job advertisements reflects a company's commitment to diversity and inclusion. By critically examining and adjusting how roles are described, employers ensure that they are open to the best talents, irrespective of how candidates manage social interactions. This approach not only enriches the workforce but also supports a culture that truly values diversity.