Tim Jubb |

Recruitment teams up and down the country rely on the quality of their job descriptions. If you can’t attract the right candidates for your job, then you will have difficulty filling your positions.



But why do some job descriptions receive more applications than others? Sometimes it seems there are inexplicable differences in the number of applications for virtually identical job descriptions. Take these two job descriptions for example:
 

Job 1

We're after a committed person who enjoys working both on their own and as part of a team. You won't shy away from putting ideas and thoughts forward.

Ideally you will have around 2-3 years experience in an agency environment and possess a Computer Science qualification. We work mainly with WordPress, and Node.js, so an understanding of PHP is a must.

 

Job 2

We're after an individual who enjoys a challenge, as well as working independently and as part of a team. You won't shy away from putting your ideas and opinions forward.

Ideally you will have around 2-3 years experience in an agency environment and have a Computer Science qualification. We work mainly with WordPress, and Node.js, so you must be confident with the use of PHP.

 


Imagine that you have the relevant qualifications and experience for this position. Which one are you most likely to apply for?

Confused? Then let’s shed some light on things. Both of these job descriptions are subtly “gender coded”.

Job 1 is feminine or neutrally coded while Job 2 is masculine coded. We can say this thanks to the academic work of Gaucher, Frisen and Kay. The academics tested gender coding in job descriptions and found some interesting results. The majority of women may be deterred from applying for jobs if too many masculine words are used in the job description. For many women, masculine job descriptions mean a decreased sense of belonging. In other words, women struggle to see themselves fitting in if the job description is subtly masculine coded. This sense of perceived belongingness is completely independent of factors like qualifications, ability and the job itself.

On the other hand, the research found that men display only a slight preference for masculine worded jobs adverts. Gender wording does not affect men’s anticipated feeling of belongingness.

So this might explain why some jobs receive more applications than others. But it doesn’t help to create a repeatable formula that can optimise your job descriptions to get the most possible applications every time.



And there are other factors at play. What about job description length? Is there such a thing as the ideal length for a job description? If so, what is it?

Job board Appcast.io’s study of 400,000 job seekers revealed jobs that between 2000-10000 characters get a click to apply rate of around 7%. Anything less than 2000 and there is not enough detail, anything more than 10000 and there’s too much.

However, the study found that the optimal length for job descriptions is between 4000-5000 characters. At this length, the click to apply rate reaches a pinnacle of 15%.
 
While this research is great, it’s difficult to create a repeatable formula for creating successful job descriptions time after time.

That’s exactly why we created the Check My Job tool. Check My Job is a free tool that gives you the ability to see which job descriptions might be gender biased whilst simultaneously checking the length as well. And because you can use it as many times as you like, you can keep checking your job descriptions to ensure recruitment best practice is met, every time.

Try it for yourself, here: eploy.co.uk/checkmyjob

 

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