Develop the posting
Intended for anyone involved in the search: Please utilize this guide when writing a job posting. Remember, the posting is what will be used to inform your advertisements and ultimately sell your position to candidates. Job ads need to be engaging and appeal to candidates who are often passive and already employed but curious about new opportunities.
- Put yourself in the shoes of the candidate as you write the job. What would be attractive if you were looking for something similar?
- Determine the right keywords for the talent pool you're trying to attract (what specific words would a candidate search for when looking for this type of job?)
- Use a clear job title: Even though creative titles can be engaging, make sure it is what a candidate would actually be searching for
- The posting should discuss behaviors needed to perform the job (i.e. anticipates customer needs; provides coaching to others to help them leverage their strengths and effectively develop in areas where improvement is needed; proactively works with others to improve team collaboration and functioning on a continuous basis; etc.)
- The posting should discuss the culture of VCU
- Include 'you' statements such as, “You will be joining a dynamic team committed to advancing student success” so that the candidate can envision themselves in the role.
- Effective job ads run from 600-900 words: overly wordy postings can be a deterrent. Keep the ad as concise as possible.
- Do not use a typical position description that outlines the day-to-day activities of the job: this can be dull and full of empty word
- Clearly describe performance measures for the role.
- Define the optimal candidate. Think of other exceptional and advanced performers at VCU and the core competencies and characteristics used to describe them
- Be honest, even if it is a hard or challenging job. At the same time, make sure to emphasize the positives, such as the rewarding nature of the work. This appeals to the right candidates in an honest way.
Please also see InsideHR: Create the Job Posting
Source: Society for Human Resources Management
This guide is intended for anyone involved in the search. The way an advertisement is written can be a major attraction or hindrance for job applicants from underrepresented groups. The following guidelines provide suggestions and recommendations to help you write more inclusive advertisements to attract a more diverse applicant pool.
- The importance of diversity and inclusion
- The value placed upon those who can share differing points of view
- A description of an atmosphere where employees can receive support from a diverse and inclusive group of staff and administration
The following are extremely important:
- Clarity and specificity: Poorly specified or unclear job qualifications increase the risk that excellent candidates from underrepresented groups will be eliminated
- Flexibility: Flexibility in thinking about job qualifications creates the opportunity for attracting members of underrepresented groups who can make significant contributions, initiate new ways of thinking, and introduce more diverse ideologies.
- Career paths for those in underrepresented groups may vary in comparison to mainstream candidates. When developing job qualifications, identify characteristics that allow for more varied backgrounds and experiences.
- Years of experience should be “preferred” or “flexible” if possible.
- Focus upon identified needs of the program and university and take care to not develop requirements that could either exclude candidates during the search and screening process or discourage candidates from applying when they read a position announcement
- Use statements that convey an interest in the impact candidates of underrepresented groups and their work can make on the overall goals of the university
- Avoid unclear or unnecessary requirements. It is better to list required and preferred qualifications separately.
- Write impact descriptions that focus on what the individual will accomplish in the role: Members of underrepresented groups often do not feel confident to apply unless they meet the qualifications 100 percent. Doing away with the “requirements” section and checklists that keep them from applying broadens your access to talent.
How do I write a diverse and inclusive ad?
- Do not recycle position descriptions from previous searches: Start fresh to avoid descriptions that may unintentionally screen out diverse candidates
- Avoid extreme language; it can discourage applications from certain candidates. For example, words like “expert” can exclude candidates. Instead, sentences such as “at least five years of experience working with technology” could be used
- Avoid words that may convey stereotypes. Words such as “compete” or “dominant” reflect masculinity and may deter women from applying. Suggestions of words to use instead could be “motivation” or “tireless”.
- Convey a growth mindset. Companies that are committed to the development of their talent are more likely to attract candidates from underrepresented groups. Expressions that reflect fixed qualities such as “natural-born analytical thinker”, “extremely intelligent” or “constantly outperforming” discourage aspiring candidates who may have high growth potential. Instead, terms such as “passionate learner” or “motivated to take on challenges” could be used.
- Demonstrate commitment to diversity and inclusion. Devote some space to describing VCU’s commitment to looking for all kinds of talent to build a diverse workforce in which all groups are represented.
- Use “you” and “us: Expressions like “ we work to find the best solution to a problem” to address candidates are much better than impersonal ones like “the ideal candidate”.
- Avoid using masculine nouns and pronouns. Using the second-person singular allows to avoid using masculine nouns and adjectives. However, when a direct reference is unavoidable, use gender-neutral nouns, such as “the person” or “the candidates”.
- Use statements that convey an interest in the contributions that candidates from underrepresented groups can make and the impact their work can have on the overall goals of the university. Make direct statements about the contributions that a member of an underrepresented group can bring to a position. An example is below; especially note the information in bold
“VCU HR invites applications for two openings for the position of: Assistant or Associate Director of Employee Engagement. The University seeks to attract an active, culturally and professionally diverse staff of the highest caliber, skilled in building out new programs, discovery, application, and integration of knowledge. The University is a doctoral granting public institution that enrolls about 31,000 students, 45% minority, 30% underrepresented minority, 1,709 first professionals and 1,260 international students, representing 101 countries. VCU HR is committed to retaining a culturally diverse group of employees that will support initiatives that help these students flourish. VCU HR has developed core competencies that embody accountability/ integrity; achievement; collaboration; diversity; innovation; and service excellence. We would welcome you to join our team.
- Other examples of verbiage include
- Emphasis on diverse and inclusive recruitment strategies
- Ability to work effectively with diverse populations.
- Proven experience leading diverse teams
Intended for anyone involved in the search. This language was developed in partnership with VCU University Relations and can be used in an advertisement, position profile, prospectus, etc.
About university and region
Virginia’s nationally ranked public research university is a vibrant place where discovery and creativity go hand in hand, and differences are celebrated and embraced. The university plays an integral role in the vitality of its home city of Richmond, Virginia, which is constantly receiving recognition for the richness of its cultural scene and entrepreneurial spirit.
VCU dates to 1838 with the formation of the Medical Department of Hampden-Sydney College, whose mission was to educate physicians in central Virginia. The college was later renamed Medical College of Virginia. In 1968, Richmond Professional Institute merged with the Medical College of Virginia to become what is now known as Virginia Commonwealth University.
Located in downtown Richmond, the state capital of Virginia, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in more than 200 degree and certificate programs across its campuses: the downtown Monroe Park and MCV campuses in Richmond; the Rice Rivers Center in Charles City, Virginia; separate campuses in Fairfax, Virginia, and Charlottesville, Virginia, for the School of Pharmacy; and a campus in Doha, Qatar, for the School of the Arts.
VCU is designated as a research university with very high research activity by the Carnegie Foundation, garnering more than $271 million in sponsored research from federal and other agencies. The National Science Foundation ranked VCU among the top 100 in the country and VCU researchers consistently receive top honors in the state and in their fields.
This research enterprise and the influence of having the nation’s No. 1 public graduate arts school, ensures students receive unique educational experiences that equip them with a creative mindset that sets them apart.
VCU’s contributions in talent, innovation and entrepreneurialism, regional stewardship and local culture shape the economic impact and overall quality of life in the region. Students dedicate more than 1.3 million hours annually in service to the community and VCU as a whole generates more than $6 billion in economic activity and supports 63,000 jobs in Virginia.
VCU values its unique perspectives which fuel its commitment to diversity and inclusion. Students would say that the best thing about VCU is its diversity.
VCU’s mission, under the leadership of President Michael Rao, Ph.D., is to advance knowledge and student success through its commitments to:
- An engaged, learner-centered environment that fosters inquiry, discovery and innovation in a global setting.
- Research that expands the boundaries of new knowledge and creative expression and promotes translational applications to improve human health.
- Interdisciplinary collaborations that bring new perspectives to complex problems and mobilize creative energies that advance innovation and solve global challenges.
- Health care that strives to preserve and restore health for all people, to seek the cause and cure of diseases through groundbreaking research and to educate those who serve humanity.
- Diversity that provides a climate of inclusion, a dedication to addressing disparities wherever they exist and an opportunity to explore and create in an environment of trust.
- Sustainable university-community partnerships that enhance the educational, economic and cultural vitality of the communities VCU serves in Virginia and around the world.
VCU, its health system and other related entities have cash and investments of about $3 billion, which includes $840 million in endowment funds.
About Richmond, Virginia
Established as the commonwealth’s capital in 1780, Richmond, Virginia, is a vibrant mix of history, diverse culture and real-world opportunities. Its rich history is much in evidence in the architecture, the Capitol grounds and the cobblestone streets around the city. Distinct neighborhoods, cozy restaurants and cafes and quaint local markets give the city, an intimate feel, but theaters, galleries, music festivals, sports attractions and a steady stream of annual events bring RVA -- as locals call the region -- to life. With the historic James River and 550 acres of parks bordering it, bike trails, wineries, breweries, a flourishing arts, entertainment and restaurant scene and affordable suburbs, this small city with a low cost of living punches well above its weight in terms of attractions and buzz.
Richmond’s location in the middle of the state allows for day or weekend trips to the beach, the Blue Ridge Mountains or Virginia’s many wineries (Travel + Leisure magazine named Virginia one of its five wine regions in the world to visit now). Richmond’s location places VCU within a two-hour drive of Washington, D.C., and a multitude of excellent institutions of higher education. It is within a day’s drive of 50 percent of the nation’s population and is in the path of growth in the mid-Atlantic metropolitan corridor. The Richmond metropolitan area is also home to 10 Fortune 1000 companies, a broad base of financial companies, hospitals and media firms, high-tech manufacturing companies and state and local government agencies. TIME magazine’s No. 2 city in the United States for attracting millennial talent, Richmond is one of the fastest-growing tech hubs in the country.
Beyond Richmond, CNBC has named Virginia as the number one state in the country to do business. It has accomplished this by bringing in over $18.5 billion in capital investment and over 50,000 new jobs; investing in education; expanding access to quality healthcare for all; making sure everyone has access to opportunity; and more. Suffice to say, Virginia is full of growth and opportunity.