ZILLOWGROUP text with images of the Zillow Group team in conversation bubbles on a blue background
All stories

Words give power to the people

At its start, Zillow Group was intent on transforming the way families found their homes. Rich Barton, CEO of Zillow Group, leads the company with the idea “power to the people,” aiming to give individuals the information and transparency they need to make the best decisions possible.

“Power to the people” doesn’t start and end with consumers, power at Zillow also lies with its employees. Zillow Group’s vision includes a company where employees are driven to make an impact, flourish instead of burn out and continuously innovate. Their commitment to a positive workplace is rooted in action and endures through the language they use to communicate their culture.

Your first opportunity to communicate to potential employees is through job descriptions and recruiting emails, which give job seekers a glimpse of life at your company. Zillow Group came to Textio with the goal of better showcasing its company culture in candidate communications.

Finding the right words to illuminate Zillow Group’s culture and values

Zillow Group outlines three cultural values on its career site:

  1. Make an impact
  2. We work for each other
  3. We nurture innovation

With the power of augmented writing, these values permeate into Zillow Group's job posts so that job seekers better understand what life at Zillow Group is like.

Make an impact

One way Zillow Group has imbued “make an impact” through their job postings is using the language pattern in the world. In 2017, about 55% of job posts used this phrase and now, two years later, that phrase now shows up in 86% of jobs. Similarly, dedicated and initiative, which also align with Zillow Group’s efforts to have every employee make an impact, have increased in usage since writing with Textio. Not only does this language align with Zillow Group values, statistically these language patterns help Zillow’s open roles fill faster.


We work for each other

Many employees at Zillow Group cite their coworkers as the best part of their job. It’s not just what they do day in and day out, but who they do it with. It’s no surprise, then, to see that a word like collaborative is used twice as much in 2019 than in 2017. Even better, Zillow Group’s data shows that it attracts 10% more applicants that identify as women, diversifying the applicant pool for the company.

At Zillow Group, working for each other means making sure teams are inclusive and create belonging. In this vein, Zillow Group has increased the use of the language patterns growing team and an inclusive over the last two years.


We nurture innovation

And we cannot forget about Zillow Group’s commitment to innovation and disruption. State of the art is one way to describe a company leading the charge the use of this phrase has almost tripled in the three years Zillow Group has been writing with Textio and shows up in about 14% of all job posts. Other phrases like new technologies and dynamic position Zillow Group as the tech leader it is and continues to be used in more job posts to better inform candidates of what life at Zillow Group is like. And the impressive thing is as these language patterns grow in usage, they are also helping Zillow Group fill roles quicker.


Culture is the key to standing out

In 2016, more than half of Zillow Groups jobs, 55%, had a masculine tone. Textio’s data shows that jobs with a masculine tone are more likely to attract applicants who identify as men. For a company that “believes all people should live in a world where they are valued, supported and feel they belong,” their words were missing the mark.

Fast-forward to 2019, two years since augmented writing changed the way Zillow Group recruiters understood the impact of their words, less than 5% of Zillow jobs descriptions have a masculine tone.


With Textio, Zillow Group uses language that best represents their unique culture and, in doing so, they are able to change who can see themselves at Zillow. Because of all this hard work, they also stand out when compared to job descriptions of their talent competitors, most of which are also large technology companies based in the Pacific Northwest. Better yet, the phrases that make them distinct also align with Zillow Group’s hiring goals to attract more qualified candidates and diversify their applicant pool.


Based on Textio’s data, when used in job descriptions, words and phrases like committed, equal opportunity, and dedicated statistically attract more qualified applicants and reduce time to fill. Zillow Group uses these words up to 18x more than any of its talent competitors, not only helping Zillow Group sound different but communicating their “commitment to creating an equitable workplace for all” to future employees.


Other words and phrases that make Zillow Group distinct are an inclusive, fostering, and encourage. Statistically, these words and phrases increase the number of applicants who identify as women when used in job descriptions. It’s no surprise this language shows up in nearly 100% of job posts when Zillow Group firmly believes “all people should live in a world where they are valued, supported and feel they belong.” The next closest competitor uses one of these phrases in only 3% of job posts.


Talk the walk

Zillow Group has been winning innovation awards since 2006, but only recently started winning employer awards as it has grown from fledgling startup to being recognized as a truly great place to work. In 2017, Zillow Group was named one of the best workplaces for women by Best Workplaces. They have since earned best place to work for parents and women and been named on Hired.com’s list of top 25 global employers.

At this point you might be thinking, is there a relationship between Zillow Group’s focus on intentional language change with augmented writing and their well-deserved recognition for a positive company culture? Maybe! Maybe not. It certainly didn’t hurt.

All the innovation in the world doesn’t have much merit if the people behind it aren’t in it for the long-haul. Establishing a culture that employees believe in is the first step in continued excellence. The second, and maybe most important, step, is ensuring that the culture stays alive and healthy. Language is a crucial piece of that.

All stories
Get stories like these delivered right to your inbox.