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Behind the List

How to Write a Compelling and Inclusive Job Listing

By Emma McAleavy
July 14, 2021

Whether you are looking for a studio assistant, a pet-sitter, or your organization's next program director, writing a strong job listing will help you find the right person for the role.  It will also make clear to candidates who you are, what your company is like, and the type of culture they’d encounter in the role. You want to be sure you are being clear, fair, and inclusive in your job listing. If done right, your listing will be the beginning of a reciprocal and collaborative relationship.



Be Concise and Clear


A compelling job listing should be under 300 words while still giving the candidate a sense of you or your organization, the role, and what you’re looking for. Remember, a job listing (which is a public-facing recruiting tool) is not the same as a job description (which is often used internally in an organization). You don’t need to include an itemized list of every duty and responsibility. Instead, you should focus on the impact you expect your new hire to make and the skills they’ll need to make that impact.

You should also clearly state the type of role in the listing. Is it a freelance, contract, part-time, full-time, or gig position? If you’re hiring for a gig role, it can be tempting to cut corners; after all, surely most people know what pet-sitting entails. However, it pays off to be as thorough and clear in your gig listings as you would be for a long-term organizational role.

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Photo by Eric Fallen

Communicate Openness in Your Requirements


Even seemingly standard requirements — like educational background — are often best left off your job description. After all, your ideal candidate may not have gone a traditional educational route for the role. Not only that but an overreliance on formal education is exclusive and exacerbates inequality.  For example, women are less likely than men to apply for a job if they don’t meet all the requirements. You need someone who can help you do or achieve specific goals, but how that person acquired the relevant skills shouldn’t matter. If you’d like, you can communicate your required and desired skills in two separate sections. You might also consider including a sentence that communicates your openness to a wide variety of backgrounds.

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Photo by Rufus Bock

Share the Compensation Range


It saves everyone time and energy if you are clear about the salary or compensation range upfront. It is especially important to be transparent about salaries in light of the chronic gender wage gap and the wage gap between white people and BIPOC. The salary or compensation range is critical information that candidates need to discern whether or not a role could work for them. Providing this information also helps prevent massive disparities in what a candidate ultimately can negotiate for themselves. You’ll also want to make sure you include details about additional benefits and perks you offer.

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Photo by Tomas Janka

Communicate Your Hiring Process


Make sure you clearly state the deadline for applications, when you’d like the new hire to start, and what the process is for applying. If you have an application form that candidates must fill out, don’t ask them to duplicate work by sending in a resume and cover letter as well. You might also consider removing the cover letter requirement in order to lower barriers to entry. 

Make sure you have a system in place to let your applicants know that you’ve received their application and what they can expect going forward.  And if the position is filled, make sure you let your candidates know that as well.

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Photo by Fernando Aciar

Share Your Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Policies and Practices


Based on federal law it is illegal to discriminate against an applicant for a job based on their race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), national origin, age, disability, or genetic information. Before you write your job listing you should have a plan in place for preventing discrimination in the hiring process. Your plan could include standardized interview questions or a name-blind review of application materials. Whatever the case, make sure you include a description of that plan in the listing.   

You should also clearly communicate your practice and policies for ensuring your workplace is equitable, inclusive, and diverse. If you don’t already have policies in place for promoting equity, inclusion, and diversity, you should start developing them immediately. You want to make sure that whoever you hire can succeed in the role, no matter what their background or identity is. It’s your organization's responsibility to make sure the environment and culture you’re creating enables everyone to succeed.





Feature image by Lisa Hedge


Emma McAleavy, our Content Editor, works to bring the stories of our community to life. Emma’s writing has also appeared in The New York Times, Outside Magazine, and Architectural Digest. You can follow her on twitter @emmamcaleavy.

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