Graphic of the 5Cs framework for inclusive job descriptions
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The 5Cs framework for inclusive job descriptions

As much as we’d love to think that we know what resonates with our ideal candidate, our intuition is often wrong. When it comes to which language performs best in job descriptions, the data doesn’t lie. Writing an inclusive job description is a very important part of attracting talent to your company because the language that you use impacts who can see themselves thriving on your team. If you don't pay attention to your language, you risk missing out on excellent candidates.  

We’ve devised an easy-to-remember framework to help you make sure you attract and appeal to a diverse candidate pool: the 5Cs framework for inclusive job descriptions. Next time you kick off a new role, check your job description against the 5Cs to be confident that it'll land inclusively. 

The 5Cs framework for inclusive job descriptions

1. Compelling

There’s a reason why in some organizations and geographies job descriptions are referred to as job advertisements. You are indeed advertising an open role to prospective job seekers. That means that the content needs to be compelling to a broad range of candidates from different identities, backgrounds, and skill sets. Here's what to keep in mind:  

Balance the gender tone 

It might feel counterintuitive to think of job descriptions in terms of gender, but Textio's research has long-proven the importance of striking a balanced gender tone: jobs where a man was hired use twice as many masculine-tone phrases as feminine ones, and academic research backs this up. So, if you’ve been struggling to source a diverse talent pipeline, take a moment to consider how your language is landing with all candidates in your pipeline.

Avoid harmful language  

Some frequently used phrases that we use all the time are rooted in deeply problematic histories and meanings that aren’t immediately obvious. Take words like “crazy” or “insane” that are used ubiquitously, but are in fact ableist, stigmatize mental health conditions, and don't belong in our job descriptions. Even phrases that are seemingly more closely related to the work like “perfect for new grads,” select for a younger age demographic and aren’t inclusive. 

Use growth mindset language 

Textio’s research shows that jobs where women were hired were more likely to contain growth mindset language, and that holds true today. Using growth mindset language and focusing on learning opportunities are invaluable assets in a compelling job description that attracts a much wider variety of candidates and encourages them to apply.

2. Competencies 

Think of your job descriptions as the perfect accountability mechanism for a more structured hiring process based on predetermined role competencies. Whichever qualifications you list in the job description should be role-relevant and also possible to objectively evaluate in an interview. Here's what to keep in mind:  

Remove arbitrary qualifications  

Boilerplate requirements—like college degrees, specific majors, GPAs, or even geographic location— are unnecessary and irrelevant for most jobs. For each added requirement, you narrow your talent pool: underrepresented groups are less likely to apply for roles if they don’t meet 100% of the requirements. It’s important to stay selective about what is truly a requirement for the job. Simple tweaks like including a “nice-to-haves” section shows candidates that certain skills or experiences may be helpful to have, but are not mandatory to apply. 

Eliminate subjective requirements

Fun,” “energetic,”  or “must love startups'' are examples of common language found in job descriptions that are impossible to evaluate in an unbiased way. What’s considered to be “fun” will vary dramatically across interviewers, and you risk inconsistency with this sort of subjective criteria. Not to mention it can actively hurt your employer brand and turn away candidates who are screening your company.

3. Culture

Candidates are searching for clues about your culture. Research shows that job seekers want to be sure that they’ll feel a sense of belonging on your team before hitting the apply button. Channeling your company’s culture through your values, mission, and commitment to DEIB invites more talent to apply. Here's what to keep in mind:

Write inclusively about benefits

Benefits are an opportunity to show candidates how your company prioritizes the equity, inclusion, and belonging side of the DEIB equation (critical for retaining a diverse team). How you talk about your benefits is really important. For example, many companies list benefits like “maternity” and “paternity” leave, which isn’t inclusive. Instead opt for a gender-neutral, fully paid, and equitable parental leave across role types, tenure, and location. It’s a bit more involved than a quick language edit, but it appeals more to job seekers. Lastly, avoid excessive focus on “perks” that don’t appeal to all groups like ping pong tables or beer on tap.  

Include a sincere EEO statement

When you have a well-crafted EEO statement, it shows that DEIB isn’t just a box to check for your company. Speaking about your approach to cultivating a diverse team encourages candidates to apply. As an example, Textio uses the following EEO statement:

“Textio embraces diversity and equal opportunity in a serious way. We are committed to building a team that represents a variety of backgrounds, perspectives, and skills. The more inclusive we are, the better our work will be. Working at Textio is outstanding. Learn more about our philosophy, benefits, and team at” 

It’s short, sweet, to the point, and also customized to our culture at Textio. A sincere EEO statement shows candidates that you’re serious about DEIB, and it shows them that commitment in your own words. 

4. Current 

Language changes over time. There are no set rules when it comes to our recruiting language, that's why the always-on, always-fresh guidance in augmented writing tools is so helpful. What appeals to candidates changes over time, which is why staying current on the data is essential. Here's what to keep in mind:  

Use an augmented writing solution to stay up-to-date

Using Textio helps you stay current and use inclusive language in job descriptions. Memorizing the “rules” of inclusive language never works because the goalpost is always moving. Textio’s guidance is constantly evolving and updating based on what the data shows us, so using a tool like Textio that has augmented writing capabilities helps you make more informed language choices.

Write a fresh job description for each role

Duplicating old job posts may save you time in the short-term, but it also doesn’t encourage you to pause and think about how the language is landing today. Also, it usually produces longer job descriptions, which we want to avoid. Instead of duplicating job descriptions, templatize the structure (not the copy) and use a similar format, but write a fresh job description for each new role to make sure that you are thinking about the language that’s current and the language that will land with the candidate. 

5. Clear

It seems like a given to say that writing clearly in a job description is important, but a lot of companies aren’t writing clearly enough in theirs. Grandiose language, jargon, or excessive use of corporate clichés won’t resonate with all candidates. Instead, focus on sticking to the message and be as clear as possible. Here's what to keep in mind:

Limit the use of jargon and corporate clichés

We know that excessive jargon and corporate clichés aren’t universally engaging. Phrases as common as “best practices'' andstakeholders" can turn qualified job seekers away. Commonly used sports metaphors like “par for the course,” “fumble,“all star,” and “drop the ball,” don’t appeal to all candidates. To write inclusively, it turns out that writing simply and to the point is most effective. 

Remember less is more

Lastly, when it comes to clarity, keeping the job description concise and easy to understand is important. You can do this by setting a word count limit—Textio’s research shows 300-660 is the ideal length—and also effectively using bullets, punctuation, and removing redundant sections

So, next time you’re trying to write an inclusive job description, pause for a moment and really make sure that it’s hitting the 5Cs: compelling, competencies, culture, current, and clear. That way you can be more confident that it will land with its intended audience. 


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