Here at Progressive Data Jobs we believe in transparency and creating a more equitable professional space. This is why in addition to job postings we provide resources like the guide on How to Get a Job in Progressive Analytics and past year salary surveys. However, true equity is in large part the responsibility of hiring organizations. While we only post paid positions here, many do not come with details that would help create a more equitable space.

If you are working on a job description and are a hiring group, consider the following: The language used in a given job description tends to attract or repel different kinds of people and, along with recruitment, is the biggest chance to cast a wide net for qualified candidates. You should aim to attract a wide, diverse pool of people in the first stage of hiring. Meanwhile, thoughtfulness around “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves” can reduce the likelihood that qualified candidates self-select out of the hiring process.

Job descriptions should reflect the following:

  • A description of the hiring organization, preferably using consistent language across all postings.
  • The description should try to define the type of person who would be interested in the work, and if possible describe some typical projects or areas of work. E.g., would a person who is a creative thinker be a good fit? Someone who thrives in a campaign environment?
  • Qualifications should try to list “Good fit” qualifications (skills the person needs to have upon starting the role) and “Helpful skills” (things that are icing on top of the cake). If you are not sure, consider the “good fit” to be the skills they need at minimum to perform the job well, while nice to haves are things they can learn on the job. Research has demonstrated that men tend to apply for jobs at a higher rate than women when they don’t meet all the “must-have” requirements. The same may be true for other underrepresented and protected classes.
  • Unless truly essential, education should be a recommended background, but not a requirement. Education minimums should not be required without an option of equivalent work experience, unless there is a skill set that can only be learned or validated via formal education (lawyers are a prime example). The key point is to not cause people who have not had access to formal education to self-select out at this stage.
  • Include job location, salary range, and benefits for full time employees (health care, 401k matching, vacation, parental leave, etc.). If it is a short-term or contract position, include length of the position and potential for renewal if applicable. Bonus tip: benefits should only include formal offerings, not your ping pong table or wild holiday party.
  • Include any other standard language such as Equal Opportunity Employer language.

Once a job description is drafted, have it reviewed by multiple members on staff, preferably including someone familiar with equitable hiring practices. Run the job description through Textio for flags on problematic words or phrases. Writing a job description with the aid of a tool like Textio can result in a job description that is more neutral, and attracts a wider and (likely) more diverse pool of applicants.

A final note regarding salaries – we strongly recommend listing a realistic salary band in listings as opposed to only “Competitive salary” or “commensurate with experience” as these things are overly vague. We do not have research to confirm, but anecdotally, listing a salary up front seems to yield a better pool of candidates. Regardless, it is a fairer and more equitable process to be transparent regarding salaries. In this moderator’s experience, postings that adhere to the above, including salaries, has led to a better hiring experience for the employer and employees.

Some legalese: These are recommendations only and should not be viewed as legal guidance. All readers and any other entities who view this document shall indemnify and hold harmless Progressive Data Jobs and its directors, employees, agents, subcontractors and customers from and against all allegations, claims, actions, suits, demands, damages, liabilities, obligations, losses, settlements, judgments, costs and expenses (including without limitation attorneys’ fees and costs) which arise out of, relate to or result from any act or omission of Progressive Data Jobs. This is a living document and as such is superseded by any changing laws or regulations. All entities are responsible for adhering to Federal, State and Local Laws.