Crafting inclusive job descriptions: Best practices to attract diverse global talent

How to write clear and bias-free job descriptions.

Image showing a job description and a group of diverse candidates

For People and HR teams, writing a job description might seem like a chore—just one more task on an overflowing to-do list. This might be why job postings are often full of uninspired language and corporate clichés.

However, this seemingly banal document is actually the first touchpoint in the candidate experience—which means it’s important to write it in a way that speaks to and attracts the right people to your organization. If you’re a remote or distributed company that hires across geographies, it’s especially crucial to craft job descriptions that will appeal to diverse candidates from around the world.

Curious about hiring across borders? Learn the basics of building a global team with our free guide to hiring global talent!

To learn more about making job descriptions compelling and inclusive, we sat down with Carmen Amador Barreiro, an organizational and business psychologist, Oyster’s People Builders Community Lead. Carmen is passionate about helping company leaders and People professionals build thriving and inclusive workplace cultures, so we asked her about the challenges and best practices around crafting inclusive job descriptions in the context of remote and distributed organizations.

The challenges of crafting inclusive job descriptions

In her work with People Builders, Carmen interacts regularly with people and culture leaders, learning and development professionals, and company executives who are on the frontlines of the evolving world of work. Regarding job descriptions, Carmen has observed similar challenges across companies and across countries. 

Balancing specificity, inclusivity, and constant change

One challenge is balancing the need for specific skills with the desire to attract a diverse applicant pool, especially if certain skills are more developed in some areas or among certain demographics. But even the required skills, and hence the job requirements, are changing rapidly due to advances in technology and shifting business priorities, so that the goalpost is always moving. Our understanding of inclusivity and bias has also evolved over time, so it’s no longer only gender and race, but also age, ability, neurodivergence, and the intersectionality of all these categories.

Adapting for remote and hybrid settings

Remote and hybrid work environments pose another challenge. How do you define job roles that can be performed effectively outside of traditional office settings while ensuring that these descriptions don’t inadvertently exclude individuals who may have limited access to work-from-home setups?

Ensuring compliance across borders

Job descriptions also need to be legally compliant, but the legal requirements related to employment are constantly changing, as are anti-discrimination laws. In a global setting, that means ensuring compliance with a variety of laws across countries, which adds another layer of complexity. Companies hiring globally need to craft job descriptions that will appeal to candidates across cultural boundaries while also adhering to the diverse legal frameworks of each country.

Making job descriptions clear and inclusive

With the above challenges in mind, what are the best practices for writing job descriptions? According to Carmen, the starting point is to understand the importance of language, and how the language we use can either include or alienate people. Ideally, job descriptions should be free of biased language and should clearly communicate the specific tasks, responsibilities, and requirements for the role. 

Avoid biased language

“The language used in a job posting can absolutely bias who will apply and who won’t,” says Carmen, so it’s important to recognize common clichés that may unwittingly discourage certain candidates from applying.

For instance, consider how “tech wizard” or “tech ninja” might deter women and nonbinary individuals who may perceive these roles as geared toward men. “Digital native” can alienate older applicants by implying that only young people are suited for the role. Terms like “energetic” that implicitly evoke physical ability might discourage candidates with disabilities who might be perfectly capable of fulfilling the job responsibilities through accommodations or alternative means. Emphasizing a “fast-paced environment” or the need for “excellent multitasking skills” might put off neurodivergent candidates by implying an environment that doesn’t support people who thrive in more structured or predictable settings.

By becoming aware of the potential bias introduced by the language of job postings, People and HR teams can start to intentionally use inclusive language. Carmen also recommends using AI software tools like Textio or HireVue to check the language for bias, and to create standardized templates to ensure consistent and inclusive messaging across job descriptions.

Focus on skills and responsibilities

The best way to avoid bias and ensure inclusivity is to make the job description “clear and specific,” says Carmen. This means identifying the day-to-day tasks and responsibilities, the key job duties that will take up most of the person’s time, the specific types of decision-making they’ll have authority over (such as hiring or budget approvals), and the number of direct reports they’ll manage. The job description should also include the minimum qualifications required for the role, such as educational requirements, the number of years of experience, or the specific type of experience.

In terms of language, use clear and simple language that all potential applicants can understand. Whenever possible, avoid jargon or technical language that might make the job seem inaccessible to people from different industries or backgrounds. The language should also be gender-neutral, avoid age-specific terms, and be welcoming of applicants from diverse backgrounds.

Clarify your commitment to diversity

Beyond communicating the details of the role itself—in clear, specific, and bias-free language—the job description should also clarify the company’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity. Provide details on the work environment, such as options for remote work or flexible hours. Mention any accessibility accommodations that are available for employees as well as for candidates during the hiring process. By putting forward the details of inclusive work practices and policies, the job description is more likely to attract a wider range of candidates.

From inclusive job descriptions to an inclusive culture

Writing clear and inclusive job descriptions will help ensure a diverse talent pipeline, but their impact goes far beyond that. As the first touchpoint encountered by a candidate who might become a future employee, it’s an opportunity to set expectations and offer insights into your company’s core values, culture, and ethos.

Setting expectations

As the first touchpoint, the job description sets the tone for what the candidate might expect later as an employee. For instance, a clear and comprehensive job description will not only set expectations for the role’s responsibilities, but also support fairness in hiring and performance evaluations, contributing to a culture of transparency and trust.

Similarly, using inclusive language and explicitly stating your company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion sends a strong message that inclusivity is not just a goal, but a fundamental part of your organizational culture. If the job description highlights accommodations for disabilities, an openness to flexible work arrangements, and support for work-life balance, candidates will get a good sense of the working environment your company offers.

Attracting the right talent

By setting those expectations for candidates, you’ll ensure not just a diverse range of applicants, but also that you’re attracting people who resonate with your organization’s values. In other words, the work of building culture actually starts with the job description, long before someone becomes an employee.

“Job descriptions set the tone for your organization’s culture by signaling your company values and priorities to potential candidates,” Carmen explains. “This could be commitments to diversity, teamwork, innovation, or continuous learning. When these values are clearly communicated, candidates who share those values are more likely to apply.”

In other words, inclusive job descriptions ultimately help you build a diverse team as well as ensure a unified, values-driven company culture. However, Carmen cautions that emphasizing DEI in a job description shouldn’t be like checking a box. “Make sure what you’re writing in the job description is actually aligned with how you operate as a company,” she says.

Ensuring an inclusive culture

The work of building culture in a remote or distributed setting is always ongoing, and it starts with the hiring process. Provide ongoing training for your team on the importance of bias-free language and inclusive hiring practices. Encourage a collaborative approach to writing and reviewing job descriptions, involving team members from diverse backgrounds. Perform regular audits to check for biased language, and ask for feedback from candidates during the hiring process.

Monitor the effectiveness of your job descriptions and be willing to make adjustments based on feedback and the diversity metrics you track. What works well today may need to be revised as societal norms and expectations evolve.

Adapt and evolve

The new world of work is not only new, but evolving very fast. That’s why Carmen emphasizes measuring outcomes, getting feedback, and improving continuously. “Adapt and evolve” is how she sums up her advice to People leaders.

Carmen acknowledges that it’s challenging to keep up with new trends and emerging practices, but that’s also where communities like People Builders can provide crucial support—by providing a space for People leaders, professionals, and managers to connect, co-create solutions, and prepare together for the future of work as it unfolds.

For more expert advice and tips on job descriptions, check out the full recording of Crafting Compelling & Inclusive Job Descriptions with Carmen Amador Barreiro. And if you’re a People professional, you can join the People Builders community (it’s free!) and participate in our upcoming events.

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