4 Ways to Optimize Your Job Ad to Attract Diverse Talent

Kaya Payseno
Kaya Payseno  |  September 4, 2018

If you want to get serious about recruiting diverse talent, make sure you aren’t making these recruiting mistakes that encourage bias.

The road to inclusion and diversity certainly doesn’t end with the job ad, but it’s an important place to start. If you only have one type of candidate in the pipeline you will only have one type of employee.

The Harvard Business Review found that when there was only one female candidate interviewing for a given job, there was no statistical chance she would be hired. The same went for race—when there was only one black candidate in the applicant pool they were hardly ever chosen.

This study shows that it’s important to go beyond the “Rooney Rule,” an NFL regulation that requires one candidate for every senior operations job to be of an ethnic minority. There cannot simply one “different” candidate in a sea of sameness. You need a variety of candidates so that interviewers aren’t focused on one being “different” from the others.

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Take a deeper look at your job ad to attract a more diverse talent pool

The business case for recruiting diverse talent has been laid out many times. Companies with strong diversity and inclusion indexes tend to experience greater profit, equity, and innovation. Most recruiters want to give everyone a fair shot at employment, yet something is happening in their hiring process that yields homogeneous candidates who are not reflective of the demographics of the surrounding community. When this is the case, it’s important to reflect on job advertising, that could be the unwitting cause of excluding applicants.

Job advertising, from outlining the position’s responsibilities to selecting the promotion channels, can be a tedious process, though it is key to informing potential candidates about your open position. You want the job ad to be descriptive, concise, inviting, yet setting a high bar. Sometimes these goals are at odds with each other, and it’s hard to know which direction to go.

You are faced with questions that will make up the finished product, and in many ways, determine the posting’s success.

Questions like “should I include experience requirements?” or “what should my advertising parameters be?” race through your head, and with reason – it’s all important! So, we came up with four parameters to organize the job-ad flurry in your head and set you up for more diverse sourcing.

Language in your job ads

How you say something is important, as changing around a few word choices can transform the tone of a message from casual to formal, or from welcoming to deterring. That’s why it’s important to choose words wisely, so as not to inadvertently steer great candidates away from a job posting.

Spotting gendered or exclusive language can be hard (especially since it’s often unintentional), so most companies rely on tech tools to help them out.

Job requirements

A Hewlett Packard study reported in the Harvard Business Review found that most women will only apply to a job for which they are 100 percent qualified, whereas men will apply if they meet only 60 percent of the requirements. For this reason, some companies have eliminated the requirements section of their job ads altogether in favor of a description of what the role actually does.

If you feel you must include a requirements section, try not to raise the bar of entry by describing the unicorn candidate of your fantasies, but keep the list to reasonable expectations that the applicant actually needs to do the job.


If your company offers benefits be sure to flaunt them. Many companies use perks/incentives as a brand builder that also attracts different types of candidates. Tuition reimbursement saved Cigna $1.29 in recruiting costs for every $1 it spent on employee tuition programs. And remote or flexible work options make it easier for parents, disabled people, or those who cannot perhaps afford to live close to your office to envision themselves at your company.


Where and how you post your job ad directly affects who will see it and respond. Consider reaching out to different community organizations to advertise your listing to a specific demographic. Examples of this include posting on the job boards of women’s colleges or historically black colleges and universities.

Additionally, if you are publicizing your ad on general channels like Facebook or Google, it’s good practice to ensure that your advertising parameters don’t inadvertently discriminate against women or people over the age of 40.

Next steps in tuning your job ads

HR professionals should look at recruiting software to help them diversify their recruitment, as well as this guide on recruiting practices. 

Kaya Payseno

Kaya Payseno

Kaya Payseno is the Editorial Manager for SmartRecruiters.