How to write an inclusive and accessible job description

woman in an accessible workplace after seeing an inclusive job description and her colleagues making the workplace accessible.

Ways to create an accessible job description

Finding the right people for a role at your company is hard enough. But you might be making it harder with inaccessible job descriptions that prevent people with great talent from applying.

Though it might take a bit more effort, making your job descriptions accessible will be good for everyone in the end. People who face greater prejudice and discrimination will have a brilliant job and you’ll have a great new hire!

Hopefully, with these tips, your next round of hiring will be even more inclusive.

What is an accessible job description?

Simply put, an accessible job description is inclusive of people with a variety of different backgrounds and needs. These could include different gender identities, class backgrounds, and ethnicities, as well as:

  • dyslexia
  • dyspraxia
  • ADHD
  • mobility issues
  • visual impairments
  • hearing impairments

While there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ solution to making your job description accessible, there are steps you can take to attract diverse candidates.

Why is inclusive hiring important?

Inclusive hiring is great for a number of reasons.

The world already has obstacles for those who face prejudice and discrimination. If we can help it we should try to avoid worsening these inequalities, and inclusive hiring is one way we can do that.

Inclusive hiring is also better for your workplace. Creating a diverse workforce is better for employee retention, satisfaction and productivity.

As the first impression you make to your future employee, writing an accessible and inclusive job description is the first step to making your workplace more inclusive.

Woman at outside bench on her laptop reading an accessible job description

How to write an accessible job description

Make it easy to read

By using Calibri or Arial fonts in at least size 12pts, your job description will be much easier to read for people with dyslexia. Writing on a lightly coloured background can also help. Though it differs for everyone, there is plenty of information available on making your text more accessible for different abilities.

For people with visual impairments, text-to-speech add-ons are often used to comprehend written text. Make sure that your description is written in plain text so it can be comprehended by these add-ons.

If you’re going to include a video in your job description, make sure you include subtitles or even a transcript to aid those who are hard of hearing.

Avoid company jargon

It’s easy to fall into using the slang and abbreviations of your industry. But doing so might put off potential candidates for your role – especially if it’s an entry-level one!

Try to avoid jargon or industry terms to make your job description easier to understand and accessible to newbies in the field.

We would recommend having someone outside your industry read the job description to sanity check it!

Reconsider the essential requirements of the role

While your dream candidate might have completed a first-class degree at a world-renowned institution, consider loosening the essential requirements.

Studies have shown that men are far more likely to apply to jobs where they don’t meet all of the requirements. In fact, most men will apply when they meet 60% of the requirements, but women tend to apply only when they’re a 100% match.

So while your list of essential requirements is meant to attract the best candidates, you could be preventing some great candidates from applying. That’s why we recommend simplifying your requirements to only the bare minimum required for the job.

And if you consider a great degree from a top university essential, think again.

Elite universities are not known for their diversity. It’s much harder for ethnic minorities, those from lower socio-economic backgrounds and those with disabilities to attend and excel at these institutions.

So when you ask to only see candidates with top degrees from world-class universities, you’ll often get just that. But that’s no good for a company trying to run an inclusive process!

So consider loosening your requirements to give these candidates a shot.

As well as making the job description accessible, make sure you are posting it in accessible places. Try to avoid only posting on university-specific job boards!

two people shaking hands at brilliant interview after sending out an inclusive job description. photo by fauxels from pexels

Does the candidate really need a driving license?

Driving licenses provide freedom and ease of commute to many employees. But is it necessary for the role you are advertising?

Requiring a driving license when it isn’t essential restricts people with disabilities who might not be able to drive. You could make your description more inclusive by moving the requirement of a driving license to ‘nice to have’.

Do you need a cover letter?

Traditional requirements like providing a cover letter might discourage those who struggle with the written word, such as those with dyslexia, from applying.

Instead of asking every candidate to spend hours perfecting a cover letter for you, consider asking them to record themselves instead.

A short video explaining why they’re applying for the job is far less intimidating to those that struggle with writing and reading! And for customer-facing roles, you’ll be able to see those essential people skills you’re looking for first-hand.

Consider the language used

Without noticing, many employers often use gendered language in their job descriptions.

Rather than using ‘he or she’ when referring to your future employee try using ‘they’ to be inclusive of all gender identities. Try to stay away from gendered titles of ‘salesman’ and try ‘sales representative’ instead.

Additionally, using implicitly gendered language can put off applicants with opposing gender identities. Try to leave out adjectives such as the masculine ‘assertive’, or feminine ‘support’, to include all gender identities.

Mention your desire to be inclusive

By stating that you have an equal opportunities policy you can clearly demonstrate that your company is committed to equality and creating an inclusive workplace.

You could also include contact information for an employee dedicated to making the workplace accessible. As everyone has different needs and requests, providing contact details will allow applicants with specific requests or questions to apply.

The key to making your job description and hiring process accessible is to make reasonable adjustments when requested. Try to be as flexible as possible to make your hiring process more inclusive.

After sending out your job application, the next steps of screening applicants and interviewing are as important to the inclusive hiring process.

At DigitalGrads we advocate for a task-first blind hiring process. We request shortlisted candidates to complete a short task related to the job specification and then remove all identifying information before sending it to the employer. By doing this we can see who is best fit for the role, regardless of education history and experience.

When interviewing, make sure you are aware of what you can and cannot ask interviewees to ensure the next stages of your hiring process are inclusive.

five colleagues in a diverse workplace after attracting people with inclusive job descriptions. photo by anthony shkraba from pexels

Once your new hire is employed continue to make conscious efforts to make your workplace as inclusive and accessible as possible.

Consider running frequent diversity and inclusion workshops to ensure that your workplace makes a conscious commitment to inclusion.

While making your hiring process inclusive might take a little more effort, your candidates will be grateful for the time spent. An inclusive workplace is not only good for your employees but also helps create a more productive culture. And that’s good for everyone.

If you would like more help with understanding the rules around hiring, check out the government’s diversity and inclusion page. For any more help with the hiring process, check out our hiring platform.

Good luck hiring!

About post author

Hi, I'm Eve - a recent graduate and the new content marketing and training intern at Digital Grads.
Posted in Hiring Graduates