Want to fill your jobs 14 days faster? Watch your language!

The use of gender neutral words can result in faster hires.

According to a study by Textio, a company that uses big data to write better job listings, companies are making critical word choices that often help attract, or repel, job candidates. Are you making some of these mistakes?

Jobs going unfilled

The impetus for this study was an article in the New York Times by Claire Cain Miller about the fact that men don’t want jobs done mostly by women. This caught the eye of Alexandria Hall of Textio. They investigated because she wanted to know “.. is the perception of pink-collar jobs as ‘women’s work’ outlined in Miller’s article linked to the way we talk about these jobs?”
So the Textio looked at the 14 fastest growing jobs and analyzed the language used to describe those jobs. Textio has a database of the words used to describe jobs, and whether those words attract female or male candidates. Their analysis of the fastest growing jobs shows that the job listings use words that overwhelmingly attract female candidates.

What words?

According to Hall:

“Job listings for home health aides (the pink-collar job that has the most feminine language on average and is 89% female, the third highest according to the NYT data) turn up the words sympathetic, care, fosters, empathy, and families….On the other hand, job listings for cartographers (which averages the most masculine language and is 70% male) show words like manage, forces, exceptional, proven, and superior.”

Their data shows this to be the pattern across the board for jobs in this list that are “traditionally” dominated by women and vice versa. Textio has found that by controlling the language you can control the candidates you attract. This is sometimes done intentionally, but is often done by people writing job listings that are unaware of the impact they are having.
The end result of this is that unemployed men are not being attracted to the market place because the roles have been described in a manner that does not attract them. Jobs go unfilled, and men go on unemployed.

Gender neutral

Hall suggests that companies, if they are trying to attract new pools of candidates, need to use gender neutral words in describing the job. If they do so, Textio claims that you will fill your position 17% faster. In fact their entire “brag” on their website is:

On average, hiring teams with a 90+ Textio Score recruit a talent pool that is 24% more qualified with 12% more diversity—and they do it 17% faster.

To use a Southern phrase, “I have no dog in this hunt,” which means no one has asked me to write this to sound like an endorsement. I am writing this because it is obvious that the power of words can significantly impact the success of you campaign to attract new candidates, or promote existing employees. Why not be conscious of this power and use it appropriately?

2 thoughts on “Want to fill your jobs 14 days faster? Watch your language!”

  1. You’ve really hit on a fertile area of discussion in Philosophy and Anthropology. There’s been an ongoing debate for years about the effect that language has on human perception. But while those brainiacs in academia discuss the issue indefinitely, those of us who work in the real world need to realize that the way content is worded will have a significant impact (intentional or not) on a particular audience. Exciting stuff to consider!

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