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Your guide to creating inclusive job adverts

Written by: RICS Recruit
Published on: 16 Apr 2024

Inclusive recruitment begins with the job listing

For each job that needs filling, getting the best candidates to apply is one of the main difficulties employers face. According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)’s Resourcing and talent planning report 2022, it’s a challenge for 77% of organisations.

Even if recruiters are advertising their job in the most appropriate place, it can take candidates about three to four hours to prepare and submit their application. In fact, 78% of applicants said they’d drop out of a recruitment process that was too long and complicated. If the process deters candidates it could diminish overall interest in the role – including among potential applicants from the global majority and other underrepresented groups.

To significantly increase the number of CVs received and attract a diverse range of applicants, companies need to create an inclusive recruitment environment. This starts with getting the job ads right, and placing them where they can be seen and are accessible to as many diverse groups as possible.

If your advert isn’t being seen by the entirety of the potential candidate pool, how are they even going to apply? Developing your recruitment strategy by writing inclusive job descriptions that also reference your inclusive culture and diversity policies will have a positive effect and lay the foundations for your business’s future development.

Creating a job application and advertising process that prioritises diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) can help teams overcome such hiring challenges.

Inclusive ads have wider reach

Focusing on DEI in your recruitment processes means creating ads that as many candidates as possible can see, understand and respond to. This includes professionals with a variety of experience and from a range of backgrounds and demographics. Businesses that take this approach quickly widen the talent pool they’re recruiting from, ensuring they attract diverse talent.

As well as increasing the number of potential candidates a business reaches, mentioning diversity and assuring equity in pay makes professionals more likely to apply for a role. One study in the US found applicants were more likely to click on listings from companies with a high diversity score and would consider them as a potential employer ahead of others.

By widening the talent pool and making a better first impression on jobseekers, businesses using inclusion-focused job advertising will encourage professionals from underrepresented or ethnic diverse backgrounds to apply. Over time, this will increase the diversity of successful candidates and of a business’s workforce, which will grow and develop as people from different backgrounds contribute new ideas.

How to make a job advert accessible

The first thing to do in making a business’s job advertising process more inclusive is to create an ad that’s easily accessible. The medium and the type of content – video, print or audio – are all key factors in attracting as many candidates as possible.

To ensure accessibility, businesses need to create job listings with short, clear sentences – maybe even in bullet-point form – rather than extensive, wordy criteria. Considering the following points will also help create accessible ads.

Include the right information

Choosing the details to include in a job ad is the responsibility of all members of the recruitment team. This means working together to ensure there is a balance between giving enough information upfront and providing a description that’s concise and easy to read.

‘These days we all have shorter attention spans,’ explains RICS head of diversity, equity and inclusion Sybil Taunton. ‘So if your job description is full of long text, it’ll put a lot of applicants off. Job descriptions should be clear and concise while making it easy for people to find extra information. For example, instead of including a paragraph about the company, include a link that applicants can follow to find out more.’

List the essential requirements only

Recruitment teams – and hiring managers in particular – must be clear about the essential requirements for a role.

For example, asking for specific experience as part of an entry-level job application is confusing and inconsistent. This could put off excellent candidates with a strong general skill set but no direct experience of the field in question. Employers should prioritise broader skill sets rather than specific past experience for bringing younger newly qualified candidates into your surveying business.

Adverts should only include essential skills. Any qualities that are nice to have or can be taught on the job should be excluded. Rigid requirements will limit the number of applications received and could exclude potential talent. So, you should identify any skill gaps in the relevant team to help define your requirements. Candidates from other sectors could have the experience required for the role, such as project management, analytical skills or communication. Which is why businesses should also be considering hiring from other sectors.

Note that personality traits must not be included in any essential criteria because the advert should focus solely on the skills needed for the role. Personality-based criteria distract candidates from what they need to know about the job itself and give the impression that the company is seeking a certain type of person, deterring potential applicants.

Other essential elements that will improve your inclusive job listing include:

Post on different platforms

More than 80% of jobseekers use their mobiles and social media when looking for listings. This means job descriptions need to be suitable or easily adjusted for sharing on a range of platforms.

Alongside this, enabling different ways to apply makes a role more accessible, says Oyster Partnership senior consultant Annelies Kruidenier. ‘Some people feel like they don’t have the capabilities needed to write a CV or cover letter,’ she explains. ‘To help applicants overcome this barrier, we allow people to apply via video message, WhatsApp and voice note. Being more creative with application methods allows businesses to find more candidates who fit their role requirements.’

Format text for accessibility

Not everyone consumes information the same way. Most people prefer easily accessible and instantly digestible information that helps them understand exactly what the role requires. This will also enable them to apply faster, which will in turn generate more applications.

If you’re creating a written description for print or digital, make sure it follows formatting guidelines such as:

  • using a legible font at a point size of 12 or more, with no bold or italics
  • breaking up the text using headers and bullet points, and creating as much white space as possible to make key details easier to read
  • avoid contrast or colour, especially red and green, as this can make it difficult to read for people with visual impairments
  • creating text with software that enables the use of text-to-speech or magnifier tools and makes it easy to download for those with poor internet connections.

If possible, offer your job descriptions in accessible formats – for example, video, audio or large-print versions – to make them more accessible to professionals with a range of capabilities and experience. 

Use inclusive language

Choosing the words used in job descriptions carefully is key to ensuring no one feels excluded from applying. Paid-for online tools such as Textio or free ones such as Gender Decoder can audit your job advert and help you write a description that speaks to as wide an audience as possible. In general, avoid using:

  • abbreviations, jargon or complex terminology that some people might not understand
  • gender-specific traits, terms or adjectives such as ‘empathetic’, ‘businessman’ or ‘assertive’, which could exclude men or women
  • generalisations or statements that make cultural assumptions about people from certain backgrounds.

Creating a style guide that’s regularly updated will help your whole team create fully inclusive descriptions.

Advertise more broadly to find diverse candidates

To reach a wider range of jobseekers from different backgrounds, businesses need to list their jobs in a variety of places. Alongside the standard surveying job boards such as RICS Recruit, Property Week and Careers in Construction, there are other places that could reach a wider audience:

‘Get deliberate about the types of professionals you’re targeting,’ says Sybil. ‘Promoting on the same platforms every time means you won’t find the talent you need. Speak to specific groups, such as disability communities, to find relevant spaces to advertise in. This might not be as cheap and easy as standard methods, but is much more effective at finding diverse candidates.’

Screen applications to maintain inclusive approach

An inclusive approach doesn’t stop after the job advert closes. To ensure your whole application process meets the requirements of the Equality Act 2010, putting inclusive screening practices in place is recommended. Removing personal details to anonymise CVs and reviewing candidate applications with a skills-based scorecard ensures each individual is treated equitably and isn’t subject to bias.

The Supply Chain Sustainability School’s Diversity report 2023 provides some uncomfortable statistics. While it takes 28.4 applications for a white candidate to land a role in the built environment, it takes 90.1 for ethnically diverse applicants. For candidates in the UK who come from Indian background, it registers at 182.9 applications, which shows how prevalent bias is in the sector.

Annelies confirms that ‘candidates from certain socio-economic backgrounds don’t feel comfortable putting details such as their name on CVs because they feel like they’re being judged on that basis. We always provide anonymised CVs for our clients to screen. This prevents unconscious bias and ensures candidates are judged on their skills and experience, not their backgrounds.’