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Recruitment and HR Blog

How to write job adverts that will attract women into the engineering sector

15th February 2021

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Most companies appreciate the importance of a gender diverse workforce – after all, there’s now a substantial amount of research showing the positive impact that gender diversity has on a company’s performance and ultimately its bottom line.

But while you might appreciate the logic of achieving such a balance in your workforce, it’s less easy to know how to go about it – especially if your business is in a sector like engineering that tends to be regarded as very male-dominated.

You might already be involved in activities aimed at helping address that challenge: initiatives like education links and supporting apprenticeship schemes can give useful insights into what it’s like working in an engineering environment.  But what if you have a position that needs to be filled now? Irrespective of the actual type of role, engineer or non-engineer, how do you attract more females to apply? It starts with making sure you’re getting the right message out through your job advert.

The importance of a gender inclusive job advert

Don’t underestimate the impact your job advert could have. It’s your first chance to promote the opportunity your company’s offering, while also attracting the high quality candidates your business needs. It is, however, very easy to write an advert in such a way that you’re unintentionally putting females off from applying. So what steps can you take to make sure you’re writing your adverts in such a way that they are going to appeal to women as well as to men?

Six tips for writing job adverts that attract women into the engineering sector

1.    Avoid using gender-biased language

Did you know it’s been proven that there is such a thing as gender-biased language? And job adverts can be one place where it can cause real problems.

What types of words are we talking about? Research suggests that certain words like ‘competitive’, ‘leader’, ‘assertive’ and ‘dominate’ have masculine characteristics, subtly suggesting gender preferences. That means they’re more likely to put female applicants off. Other words are more likely to appeal to females, such as ‘interpersonal’, ‘support’ and ‘dedicated’. If you’re aiming to achieve a more inclusive approach to attracting females, take care over the choice and overall balance of words within your advert.

2.    Only include what genuinely needs to be included

Research from LinkedIn found that while women and men browse online for jobs in a similar way, men are typically prepared to apply for a role if they meet around 60% of the outlined criteria. Females, however, were more likely to feel they must fulfil every criterion before submitting an application. This desire to tick every box means they’re more likely to screen themselves out at this stage.

To address this, be very selective about what goes into the wording. You might feel it’s helpful to provide a lot of detail. But a long list of requirements, or nice-to-haves, could backfire. That doesn’t mean missing key information out. It does mean that every point made in terms of requirements must genuinely need to be there. Describing the context and purpose is fine too - keep it relevant and informative, striking a balance between copy and bullet points to make your advert as inclusive as possible.

3.    Promote family-friendly benefits and flexible working arrangements

Use the advert to build a picture of what your company is like. Refer to the values, culture and overall dynamic and take the opportunity to emphasise any family-friendly benefits and flexible working arrangements you offer. Of course, these are likely to be attractive to all potential candidates irrespective of gender. But caring responsibilities are still issues that disproportionately affect females, so make sure you’re appealing to a broader range of candidates by highlighting that you are an employer who understands and respects the need to balance career and family.

4.    Mention your diversity goals

Being a company that takes diversity seriously is something to shout about. That includes in your job adverts. Mention your diversity goals, but avoid simply cutting and pasting in your diversity statement – it needs to come across as genuine and authentic. Refer to the fact that you are consciously working towards recruiting more women into your business. Female applicants will value you highlighting that a gender diverse workplace is something that matters to you and is an issue you’re taking active steps towards achieving.

5.    Review where you’re placing your advert  

If you place your advert on a limited number of job boards, you’re reducing the pool of people likely to see it. So think more broadly.  Consider the platforms you usually use to advertise roles. What scope is there to widen your advert’s reach by posting it in other places to get it in front of as many relevant people as you can? Are there any job boards you can specifically target that might help you find more diverse candidates? Coverage across many different job boards and via several social media platforms will increase the chances of a broader range of suitable candidates finding it.

6.    How inclusive is your imagery?

There’s one final point to keep in mind. Having spent time crafting the words to reflect who you are and to avoid gender biases, be mindful of the images that accompany the advert.

In fact, take a look at all the images that could form part of your recruitment process - pictures on your website and social media for example. What messages are they sending out? If many of the images show a heavily male-dominated workplace, potential female applicants might immediately feel it’s a place where they wouldn’t fit in. By giving some thought to the images you’re using, you can avoid giving out mixed messages and undermining all the effort that went into the wording of your advert.

Need a helping hand achieving your diversity goals?

To discover how JVP Group’s employer branded job advert writing service, job board advertising and social media recruitment marketing solutions will help you to quickly attract diverse talent, whilst also removing the hassle and high costs from the recruitment process, call the JVP Group team on 01745 774 955, or you can click here to schedule a 20-minute free consultation call.

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