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Are you chasing away tech talent through your job postings?

Congratulations, your company is growing and you need to hire people! Many industries are in need of similar backgrounds. Job postings for digital marketing, data analyst, and CRM Analysts are increasing and needed across the board. That’s great news for customers expecting experiences to improve as more organizations align with their expectations. At the same time, it's illuminating which organizations aren't prepared for how thedemographics of the Unites Statesis shifting and signaling to tech talent where they may not be appreciated.

Those signals are your job postings. How you write your job descriptions says more about your company culture & world view than you could imagine. You could unintentionally signaling to talent that you aren’t a great place to work.

There are two questions you can ask yourself to avoid putting out these bat signals from the start.

  1. Are your job postings requiring a college degree?

“If you are requiring a (computer science) degree, you are part of the problem,” said Jim Deters, CEO of Galvanize, last week at the Tech Inclusion conference. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the demand for “computer and research scientists” will increase 15% between 2012 and 2022. Yet, only 9% of Americans have a computer science degree.

Let’s look at all adults with degrees. According to 2014 census data, 209.3 million people in the United States are 25 years old or older, and 66.9 million have a bachelor’s degree or higher. That means about 68 percent of them do not have a bachelor’s degree.  Oops, you accidentally limited your recruitment pool to 32% of credentialed adults.

What you are meaning to access is if this person has the right experience and motivation to do the job on day 1 that you need them to do. Lou Adler has a framework calledperformance based hiringthat is a great guideline to focus on the objectives you need this person to accomplish, rather than the background a candidate might have.

Talented candidates have their pick of the litter and you want to signal to them that you can communicate clearly your expectations around results. You also want to attract candidates passionate about the challenge you are trying to solve. They may have non-traditional education such as data science bootcamps or been in the trenches solving this problem for another organization, but they have the right experience rather than the right credentials.

2) Are your job postings using language that turns off women and minorities?

You hired a copywriter to re-write your job description. Ooohhh, it sounds sexy now! You’re looking for a ninja, guru, or unicorn on the 364 days of the year that aren’t Halloween. Unfortunately, using these words signals to experienced candidates that you’re trying to sound hip when you aren’t, or you may be an amateur. Or worse, it these words are driving away women and minorities and increases your time to hire.


There’s an app (Gender Decoder) for that! Or, run your job description through Textio. It will give you a score for readability and specific suggestions if you are using too many corporate clichés, missing an equal opportunity statement, or make sure you have enough active language. 

UPDATE: New data was released comparing job postings with fixed traits (think, "higher performer") vs. growth-related phrases ("loves learning"). Postings that contained growth language filled much more quickly than those dominated by fixed traits.

There are additional questions to ask, but these two are a start. Hopefully you aren’t sending out these signals and chasing away tech talent.

This article was originally posted on LinkedIn.

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