Do you need to make your talent search more inclusive? Here are 5 tips for writing job descriptions to attract diverse candidates:

1. Avoid exclusionary words

If your job descriptions have biased or “exclusionary” language, you might deter diverse candidates. Try to avoid words that offend (or exclude) job seekers based on their:

  • race
  • ethnicity
  • gender
  • age
  • sexual orientation
  • disability
  • felony history
  • education
  • mental health
  • veteran status

When you’re writing job descriptions to attract diverse candidates, tools like Ongig allow you to remove bias in just a few clicks. Here’s a table with 25 of the most common exclusionary words Ongig flags (and their inclusive replacements):

Exclusionary WordsBias CategoryInclusive Replacements
a cakewalkracean easy task
bendphysical disabilitylower oneself
blacklist/blacklistsraceblocklist, denylist
brown bag sessionracelunch and learn, learning session
climb/climbingphysical disabilityscale, move up, scaling, moving up
criminal background checkformer felonsbackground check
culture fitraceculture add
digital nativeagepassionate about technology
English native speakerracefluent in English
degree from a top schoolelitisma degree
his/herLGBTQ+their, your
lift/liftingphysical disabilitymove, hold, moving, holding
maternity and paternity leaveLGBTQ+parental leave, parental time off
new graduateagea graduate
recent graduateagea graduate
sanity checkmental healthreview, audit, double-check
servant leadershipracegrowth leadership, supportive leadership
sit/sittingphysical disabilitybe stationary, being stationary
stand/standingphysical disabilitybe upright/stationary, being upright/stationary
the men and womenLGBTQ+the team, the people
triberaceteam, network
typingphysical disabilityinputting, entering
walk/walkingphysical disabilitymove, traverse, moving, traversing
walkthroughsphysical disabilityfinal checks


2. Trim the fluff and focus on your needs

Instead of having a long list of “captain obvious” qualifications, focus on the key requirements of your position. Trimming down fluff in your JDs shows job seekers your actual needs (and makes them easier to read too).

For instance, you might want to hire candidates with “strong communication skills” or “a team player,” but do you really need to list those as requirements?

Listing too many “required skills” can scare off candidates. Especially women, who mainly apply for roles only if they meet 100% of the requirements.

Try focusing on what you actually need in a candidate (e.g., “experience creating a marketing budget” or “experience managing a content team”).


3. List work perks that appeal to diverse talent

Employee benefits are key to employee satisfaction (and retention). So it makes sense to design work perks (aka benefits) that capture the attention of diverse talent (like parental leave policies, ERGs, or tuition assistance).

Here are some examples:


Spotify offers generous parental leave – 6 months fully paid – for all new parents:

writing job descriptions to attract diverse candidates work perks

This perk helps you attract working parents (women, men, or gender non-binary) who want to spend time with their new children. Paid parental leave might even help you keep current employees after having children too.

General Motors (GM)

GM offers tuition assistance and student loan refinancing. A big perk for diverse talent.

In the 2020 Census, 88% of African Americans had a High School Diploma, and only 26% had a Bachelor’s Degree.

Education benefits are a big draw for underrepresented talent, helping them overcome higher education barriers. If they already have a college degree, offering help to pay down their loans is a big perk.


Tinder lists employee resource groups as a benefit to joining their team:



4. End your JDs with a diversity statement

Include an EEO or diversity statement if you’re writing job descriptions to attract diverse candidates. Research shows:

“even a generic statement is still better than no statement”

source: LinkedIn Study of 764 members on Diversity Statements, June 2021.

Check out this link for 25+ examples of D&I statements. Here’s what Pinterest uses for its diversity statement:  

“At Pinterest, our mission is to bring everyone the inspiration to create a life they love, including our employees. We’re taking on the most exciting challenges of our working lives, and we succeed with a team that represents an inclusive and diverse set of identities and backgrounds.”

Your company’s equal opportunity employer (EEO) tagline also reflects your commitment to equality and diversity. EEO statements are not required unless you are a federal contractor, but many companies still use them.

Here’s the EEO statement Microsoft puts at the end of their job descriptions:

“Microsoft is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to age, ancestry, color, family or medical care leave, gender identity or expression, genetic information, marital status, medical condition, national origin, physical or mental disability, political affiliation, protected veteran status, race, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, or any other characteristic protected by applicable laws, regulations, and ordinances.”


5. Include testimonials from diverse employees

If you already have a diverse team, showcase it in your JDs. Having real stories from your diverse employees helps candidates connect with your role, and get a picture of your company culture.

You can add video or photo testimonials to your job description pages, or a special section on your career site.

Elastic has a video like this on their job listings page:

writing job description for diverse candidates testimonials

Note: Some applicant tracking systems don’t have a place for videos or images in your job descriptions. So, try adding a link to your testimonials on YouTube or your career site.


Why I wrote this?

Writing job descriptions to attract diverse candidates doesn’t have to be hard. Ongig’s mission is to ensure your JDs are effective and bias-free. Please request a demo to learn more.

by in Diversity and Inclusion

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)