Want a simple way to improve your recruitment job advertising results while simultaneously lowering your cost per application (CPA)? Use gender-neutral language!

Research shows that job ads using gender-neutral language “overwhelmingly” perform best, yet just 38% of job ads use such language. This small shift will create tremendous opportunities for your staffing or recruiting firm. However, removing gender bias from recruitment job advertising requires more than just using neutral pronouns. Use these ideas to reduce job ad bias, lower CPA and attract more diverse candidates to support the success of your clients’ D&I initiatives.

Gender-Neutral Language In Job Postings Is About More Than Pronouns

When we think about gender-neutral language, we often default to removing pronouns like “he/his” and “she/hers” and replacing them with words like “they/them, “people,” or “individuals.”

This is a great start, but did you know that other words are gender-coded? These words can actually deter potential candidates from applying to your clients’ jobs.

According to a LinkedIn study, the word “aggressive” discourages 44 percent of women and 33 percent of men from applying and describing your working environment as demanding discourages one in four women from applying.

The word you use to describe the ideal candidate may not translate to the ways they see themselves. The work environment may be demanding. You may be looking for aggressive people. However, the right candidate may not view themselves in that way. People want to be viewed as confident, qualified, smart, and competent. As you’re crafting job advertisements, think about the way people view themselves. Many people would balk at being described as aggressive – it sounds very harsh. A demanding work environment may make it seem like you’re not family-friendly or flexible. But if you say that you’re looking for confident candidates for a fast-paced environment, you’re much more likely to attract applicants rather than deter them.

Does This Really Work?

Goldman-Sachs applied this tactic to its job postings in 2019 and saw an immediate difference. According to that firm, when they removed the word “aggressive” from job ads, they attracted significantly more female applicants and boosted the hiring of women so much so that women comprised 50 percent of teams at the entry-level.

Inclusive language can also help boost diversity in other ways. A 2019 study found that when postings include “gender identity” and “sexual orientation” in EEO statements, LGBT recruiting improves. As inclusivity becomes a priority for American workers – especially among younger generations, it will become increasingly important for companies to demonstrate their commitment to inclusivity and to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

Does Gender-Neutral Language Really Work?

According to data, job advertisements with gender-neutral job ads get 145% more applications per job at 16% lower CPA with ads that have female or male-coded language. But before you go revamping all of your ads, you must ask yourself what your end-goal is.

Do you want more applicants, a lower cost or more diversity among applicants?  The ultimate goal will dictate the way you will want to change job postings. Why? Because while overall gender-neutral ads perform the best, there are some exceptions to that rule.  Here are the key stats you need to make the right decisions when advising your staffing firm’s clients:

  • Job ads with gender-neutral language have the lowest CPA by far.
  • Job ads with female-coded words receive more applications by about 62 percent per job, but they end up with a 14 percent higher CPA than jobs with gender-neutral language. (Can help with gender diversity, but will be more expensive)
  • In fields that are predominantly-female (like HR), male-coded language can boost applications by 143 percent, but the CPA increases exponentially – climbing by as much as 37 percent. (If your client needs to attract more males for gender diversity, they will pay more)

So what to do? Many recruitment marketing experts suggest A/B testing ads to determine which language is more effective for specific industries and jobs. However, if you don’t want to A/B test, stick with gender-neutral language in your job advertisements.

Are you Ready To Improve Your Recruitment Job Advertising?

Want more information on leveraging gender-neutral language for your job advertisements? Would you like to learn about other effective ways to optimize your job ads to increase applications and reduce CPA? Talk to the recruitment marketing experts at Haley.

From career websites to job ads to social recruiting and employer branding, we can help your staffing firm generate real ROI from your client recruiting efforts. Contact us today for a no-obligation consultation.

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