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Zillow Group drives inclusion with augmented writing

Annie Rihn started her career in human resources two decades ago. Thirteen of those years have been spent innovating recruitment strategies at Zillow Group, a high-growth tech company, which led to her current role at the company as VP of Recruiting. While HR technology has evolved from rolodexes and fax machines to predictive analytics and online networks, Rihn knows that having a great “candidate experience” remains central to effective hiring—and that means examining bias and barriers in the hiring process.

To do this, Rihn launches “myth-busting missions” where her team challenges their own assumptions on how to hire the best talent and then works to evolve the process. Armed with data and insights, Rihn has embarked on a plan to expand who is applying to Zillow Group, and she uses cutting edge technology, including Textio, to help put her ideas into action.

Annie Rihn, VP of Recruiting at Zillow Group

Annie Rihn, VP of Recruiting at Zillow Group

Rihn’s team is focused on creating new pathways to broaden representation in their candidate pool. One strategy is building long-term relationships with national organizations, like the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, the National Society of Black Engineers,, Tech Inclusion, and Lesbians Who Tech. Much of this work is about connecting in person at events. Zillow Group also leverages many online networks and communities to connect with candidates from underrepresented groups on a national level.

To bolster their approach to engaging with the best passive candidates, Rihn turned to Textio Hire. She notes, “with passive candidates you only have one opportunity and need to be very intentional with your approach. You get one email to engage their interest. And with that message, you’ve got to be able to differentiate your company and culture from hundreds of others reaching out. That’s where Textio Hire comes in. It gives my team inclusive language that is statistically proven to attract great candidates and improve our response rates.”

Sourcers on her team used Textio Hire and were immediately impressed. “One thing I really was impressed by was that the augmented writing software enhanced the team’s creativity. Textio Hire pushed my team to think differently about their candidate outreach. Every email they composed was more inclusive and specific to the candidate they were trying to reach,” said Rihn. The strategy worked — in the first few months, the team saw their recruiting email response rates improve by 16 percent.

Recruiters with high Textio Scores saw a 16% increase in email response rates from passive candidates

But what about candidates visiting Zillow Group’s careers website? Rihn’s team analyzed the site for unconscious bias and barriers to inclusion, paying special attention to job postings. One example of unintended bias found in posts were laundry lists of requirements that weren’t actually required of the roles. Inclusive job posts are an advertisement and are written for people to select themselves into a role, not self-select out. Rihn said that if you are clear on your real requirements, then you can have a strong interview process to make sure people meet the expectations.

Rihn’s team used Textio Hire to rewrite their job posts and ensure that Zillow Group made a meaningful impression on these active candidates. Rihn noted, “I thought it was going to be one of the more challenging things to do, to have to rebrand and redo all of our descriptions due to the sheer volume of posts and thoughtfulness that each required. But the roll-out of Textio was so easy.”

“Previously our job posts were inconsistent. To course-correct, we actually did two things in parallel. One, we utilized Textio to help us develop inclusive language for posts. And second, we also built best practice tools for hiring managers to make sure all of our job descriptions have the same look and feel — showcasing the opportunity and culture, with only the minimum requirements versus a litany of must-haves,” says Rihn. This approach worked. Zillow Group jobs with the highest Textio scores (between 75 and 100) see 1.5x the number of candidates qualified enough to be reviewed by the hiring manager.

After rolling out Textio Hire, Zillow saw a 12% increase overall in the number of women applying for jobs

Over the past few years, Rihn has focused on “changing our hiring practices, being more intentional, and trying to remove bias and remove barriers.” And this has shown up in hiring improvements after using Textio. Targeting a neutral tone saved Zillow Group 2.5 weeks per hire. Zillow Group also saw a 12% increase in number of applicants that identified as women after deploying Textio.

To Rihn, the impact of Textio has been incredible. “Look at what happens when you just make a subtle shift in your language. Textio really opened my eyes to how much inclusive language can impact your hiring performance.”

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