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As employers recognise the added value of employing diverse teams along with the drive for greater representation by women at senior levels and in traditionally male-dominated professions, here are our tips for creating job adverts that are likely to be more appealing to women applicants:


  1. 1. Offer flexible working

Insurance giant, Zurich, has recently adopted a policy of creating gender-neutral job adverts, seeing the number of women applying for senior roles increase by 33%.

The most significant impact has come from adding words to job postings that show commitment to offering flexible working arrangements.  By adding these words (and ensuring the employer can follow-through on this commitment) the floodgates open to a much wider pool of untapped talent.

As we’ve experienced through Covid-19 restrictions, many employers have had to introduce more flexible ways of working, including home working, and generally this experience has countered a lot of the previous arguments against flexible working.  Teams continue to communicate, remote workers can be trusted and work gets done.

Flexible working arrangements work best when they benefit both the organisation and the employee.  When used well, supported by great leadership, they can improve engagement, wellbeing and performance.


  1. 2. Simplify your criteria

Recruiters want to ensure potential candidates are a suitable fit. Presenting an exhaustive list of the requirements and skills needed for the job may seem like an appropriate way to ensure jobseekers thoroughly understand your expectations. But this approach can also have a negative impact.

A Hewlett Packard report found that men will apply for a job if they meet less than two-thirds of the qualifications, whereas women will apply only if they meet them all – meaning an extensive list of requirements could turn off female applicants. This may be due a lack of confidence, or the belief that the whole list is the absolute essential criteria.

Limiting your criteria to the key requirements can go a long way to avoid a drop in female interest in the role. Emphasising certain points as ‘desirable but not vital’ and promoting the importance of training and development within your organisation will also widen the pool of candidates.

Include a short and engaging overview of the role, providing a few sentences including a description of the job’s purpose with positive and inviting language.


  1. 3. Demonstrate your commitment to a diverse workforce

A good way to attract a diverse range of applicants is to state your commitment to fostering an inclusive and dynamic working environment.

Detailing the diversity of your leadership team, highlighting role models within your organisation and sharing any measures you’ve taken to increase diversity could be advantageous – even if these have been limited to this point. This is particularly important for women who are more likely to look for an honest description of the workplace prior to applying for a position.

Include imagery that is reflective of what is being created.


4. Review your vocabulary

Research by Textio has shown that the language used in job listings can influence a person’s decision to apply. It found that the average advert featured twice the number of phrases with a masculine tone, thus drawing in more male applicants.

For example, words such as active, competitive, dominate, decisive, fearless and objective are often considered to be masculine. Words like community, dependable, responsible, committed, collaborative, empathetic and supportive are regarded as more feminine.

An advertisement for a manager with ‘world class skills’ could put off females who are less likely to boast about their attributes in this kind of manner. In contrast, a position for a primary school teacher who can ‘work in a supportive and collaborative environment’ may distance male candidates.

Using a combination of both feminine and masculine orientated words creates the image of an inclusive working environment and will help to reduce unconscious bias at a significant point in your recruitment process.

Avoid catchy job titles such as ‘superstar’, ‘ninja’, ‘guru’ as they may have the opposite effect and deter individuals who believe they don’t fit with these images.  Plain and simple titles may not be as exciting, but they ensure you are not limiting your audience.

A study by researchers in Belgium also found women are more likely to engage with an advert if the personality requirements are phrased in a task directed way (you always remain calm under pressure) as opposed to a trait (you are calm/not nervous). Such preference is linked to the way females are typically stereotyped.

Avoid using gender specific pronouns such as ‘he’ and ‘she’ as well as traditional phrases such as ‘chairman’ or ‘manpower’ – use alternatives like ‘chair’ and ‘workforce’.


  1. 5. Shout about the great things your organisation is doing

Include your organisations diversity statement in job adverts or offer a link to the statement on your website. If your organisation offers great staff benefits, such as flexible working or a great maternity package, make sure you mention those benefits in your job adverts.

Use your company website to illustrate how you have created a happy and diverse team, and the initiatives put in place to make your company an attractive place for women to work.



CM Talent help employers to attract, retain and develop gender diverse teams.  Contact us for a discussion about ways in which we can help you to attract more women applicants.