If your company is looking for exceptional and diverse candidates to fill a role, you first need to make a job description. Creating a well-rounded job description with a well-written (and inclusive) role description would be best to catch job applicants.
But what is a role description?
A role description is a dynamic document that outlines a candidate’s responsibilities and role in your company. It gives your employees a clear picture of what you expect from them by:
- Clearly outlining the skills and knowledge they need to fulfill the tasks required for the role.
- Detailing who they will work with and who they will report to.
- Outlining how their work fits into the company’s success and objectives.
- Ensuring company tasks are delegated appropriately and to the right people.
Where can you use a role description?
A role description is a part of a job description.
You can use a role description not only when you write job descriptions for your recruitment ads, but you can also use it to:
- Outline career progression paths for positions in your company.
- Assess the critical point indicators for performance management and reviews to evaluate your team members.
- Analyze learning gaps to design additional training and development.
How to write a meaningful and inclusive role description
Now that it’s clear what a role description is and what it does, how do you write an excellent one? Here are some tips you might want to consider:
1. Ensure your role description is inclusive and free from bias
Non-inclusive role descriptions can be off-putting to prospective candidates. A study shows that non-inclusive language can cause your company to lose about 39% of your job applicants. Here are some things you can keep in mind:
- Instead of using pronouns like ‘he or she’, use ‘they’ instead.
- Use words that don’t signal gender. For example, instead of writing mailman or chairman, use words like postal worker and chairperson.
- Avoid using words like mature, student, millennial, or tech-savvy because these signal a bias against age.
- Don’t use Latino, Native English Speaker, Eskimo, Oriental, etc., because it may create biased against a specific ethnic group.
There are many other gender and racially-charged words besides those mentioned above. So, how do you eliminate these exclusive words from your role descriptions? You should be more conscious of these words when you write, and that’s a big first step.
But personal bias can still get in the way, no matter how good your intentions are. You can turn to technology to help you. Software like Ongig Text Analyzer scans your role descriptions, flags non-inclusive words, and suggests replacements.
2. Involve your team members when writing role descriptions
You can only know some things when defining a role description for a particular role. Positions requiring technical expertise, like marine engineers, product stack developers, or product managers, can have specific role descriptions that are difficult to describe if you are not in the field. Involve people in the area and ask for their help to ensure your role descriptions tick all the boxes.
3. Don’t use jargon and stick to simple job titles
Jargon or company speak is best defined by as a specialized language of a professional or occupational group. This language can help simplify processes in your company, but people outside your circle usually need help understanding these words. When you write external role descriptions, be conscious of jargon.
Keep job titles clear, simple, and concise. Job titles like Chief Happiness Manager or Social Manager Ninja might sound very modern and savvy, but they may not give potential candidates an exact sense of the job.
Plus, these may be different from the keywords they search for. Use simple terms like Human Resources Manager and Social Media Manager instead.
4. Be conscious of the must-haves and nice-to-haves
An HP study shows men apply for jobs when they meet 60% of the requirements, while women apply if they meet 100% of the job requirements.
With this statistic in mind, resist the temptation of asking for too many qualifications because this can be off-putting to women and limit your talent pool. This can also make your team members feel inadequate if they feel they don’t fulfill these requirements. When writing a role description, be clear about the skills they need to do the everyday requirements of the job and the desirable skills — but they can learn as they do the job.
Job requirements are an essential part of your job description, so you can attract diverse candidates (if you use it externally), and they can serve as guidelines for what your company expects from your team members as they do their jobs.
Why I Wrote This:
Ongig is on a mission to help you create inclusive role descriptions that attract a diverse set of candidates by flagging exclusionary words. Please get in touch with us for a demo today.
- What is a role description? (BDC.ca)
- How to Write Meaningful Role Descriptions (Zaavy.io)
- How to Write Roles & Responsibilities on a Job Description (Dr. Kelly S. Meire)
- Definition and Examples of Jargon (Richard Nordquist)