A Five-Step Checklist to Remove Bias From Your Job Posting

Humans are remarkably efficient. Our brains make shortcuts to help us process day-to-day decision-making, allowing us to open the correct door or avoid a grumpy cubicle mate without even thinking about it.

However, there’s a downside to this process, too. As we filter information based on our experience and knowledge, our brain also forms unconscious biases related to other human characteristics such as race, culture, gender, disability and more. This leads to making decisions in our work and our habits that result in an unintentional form of bias that come out when we reflect on how we behave and how we write.

Writing a job post is a natural and normal activity for human resources representatives. However, job postings aren’t free from this kind of unconscious bias. We write what we write using our perceptions and assumptions, and then candidates read what we write with their own biases.

While we can never completely remove unconscious bias. The best communication reduces these biases as much as possible to communicate the essence of the job. If you’re in charge of writing a job posting, here’s a checklist you can use to remove as much bias as possible.

Use gender-neutral language

Inclusive language such as gender-neutral wording has a powerful impact on the results of recruiting. Evaluate your use of typically feminine or masculine descriptive words and review your job posting to speak to “the candidate” rather than “he” or “she.”

Use task-focused language

Task-focused language as opposed to concept-focused language increases the number of applications you will receive. For example, instead of describing a warehouse job as having an “Aggressive, fast-paced environment,” you’ll want to get specific about the skills required to succeed in the environment, such as the “Required ability to lift more than 50 pounds in 5 minutes,” and “Required to act quickly in response to instructions.”

Ask someone different from you to review it

Since unconscious biases are personal, an effective way to remove your biases is to have someone very different from you review the document. Find someone in the office with a very different learning style, background or experience level and ask for their feedback.

Run it through word processing software

Several word processing softwares including Microsoft Word and HemingwayApp.com allow you to assess the reading level of the document you’re editing. Unless you’re specifically writing a job posting for a position with high education requirements, aim to meet the government’s Plain Language Guidelines of a 6th-7th grade reading level.