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Do your job adverts use gendered words?

Philip Shepherd

31st March 2021

Equality and diversity are extremely important in the recruitment industry, and they should be at the forefront of your hiring strategy.

When hiring for new roles, attracting diverse candidates will help to encourage accurate representation within your organisation. A broader range of applicants offers better options when it comes to choosing the perfect person for the role.

So how does gender come into your job advert?

Gendered words in recruiting

You might not realise it, but many words and phrases are seen to have either masculine or feminine connotations.

The choice of words that you use in your advert not only represent the tone of your company and the expectations of the role, but they also present unconscious implications about who the role is for.

By analysing almost 77,000 job adverts, Totaljobs identified the most commonly used gendered words in UK job descriptions.

Male-gendered words:

  1. Lead
  2. Analyse
  3. Competitive
  4. Active
  5. Confident

Female-gendered words:

  1. Support
  2. Responsible
  3. Understanding
  4. Dependable
  5. Committed

If your job adverts contain any of these words (and, according to Totaljobs’ findings, it’s extremely likely that they do) it might be time to sit down and rewrite your recruitment copy.

Attract the right people

Your job advert should help to create a sense of belonging within the company long before a person has even sent their CV. Without even knowing it, you could be alienating key demographics through your choice of wording.

In 2019, insurance company Zurich was seeking to narrow its gender pay gap, and noticed that few women were applying for senior roles at the company. By using gender-neutral wording and offering roles on a part-time or flexible basis, Zurich saw 16.4% more female applicants, with a 19.3% increase in female applicants for senior positions. Overall, the initiative led to a one-third increase in new hires that were women.

By paying close attention to the gender coding of certain words, we can create job adverts that are inclusive, helping to remove the gender bias of certain industries.

Gender-neutral job ads perform better

By avoiding certain words, or including more inclusive terminology, not only can employers attract more diverse applicants, they can also benefit from job adverts that perform better.

In 2021, recruitment tech company Appcast shared their findings on the impact of gendered language on the performance of job adverts. They found that adverts with gender-neutral wording offered lower cost per application (CPA) and increased apply rates than those with gender-coded language.

They found that gender-neutral adverts resulted in:

  • 41% lower CPA compared to gendered adverts
  • 29% more applications compared gendered adverts
  • 24% better apply rate compared to gendered adverts

Even without considering the benefits to diversity and equality, these results alone show the importance and value of gender-neutral language in recruitment advertising.

Recruitment experts

If you’re looking to hire within the digital marketing sector, Opilio are experts in helping you to place the right candidate in your role.

Visit our hiring page to find out more, or get in touch to discuss your latest vacancies.


Philip Shepherd

Philip Shepherd

Founder & CEO

Philip specialises in: Senior, Director and C-Level roles in Digital Marketing

07957 210 008
020 7183 7145