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The art of a gender neutral job ad


30 August 2020 at 2:00 pm
Maggie Coggan
We take a look at how to write a job ad that everyone will want to reply to


Maggie Coggan | 30 August 2020 at 2:00 pm


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The art of a gender neutral job ad
30 August 2020 at 2:00 pm

We take a look at how to write a job ad that everyone will want to reply to

No one writes a job ad hoping that only a select few apply.   

But while you might not realise you’re doing it, the words you use in a job ad can carry subconscious and gendered meaning. As a result, candidates who feel they don’t quite fit the bill will automatically rule themselves out. 

So what should you be looking out for to make sure your job ads aren’t accidentally targeting one gender over another? We sat down with Lois Freeke from NGO Recruitment for some tips.  

Keep it short and sweet 

Research has shown that women are less likely to apply for a job when they don’t meet every single skill and experience requirement outlined in a job ad. That’s why, Lois explains, it’s important when writing a job ad you keep it as succinct as possible. 

“Keep it short, sweet and stick to the point,” she says.   

Avoid gendered adjectives 

Using gendered adjectives to describe the type of person you want in the job is a sure-fire way to narrow the pool of people applying for a job.    

“Using words such as empathise, cooperate – which are softer, traditionally feminine words  – will signal to candidates that a woman is preferred for the job. On the other hand, masculine adjectives such as fearless, competitive, or decisive will normally signal that a male applicant is preferred,” Lois says. 

“Again, best practice advice is try to avoid these gendered adjectives as much as possible and keep it neutral by using words such as determined or driven.” 

Stick to the facts 

Instead of using adjectives to describe the job, stick to explaining the job accurately and avoid having a specific profile in mind.  

“So basing your job advertisement around what you actually want rather than how the person might behave might be a better way of describing it,” Lois says. 


Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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