February 3, 2021

Gender-Coded Words and Candidate Attraction

Paula Santonocito Headshot
Paula Santonocito
Senior Manager, Researcher & Writer
February 3, 2021

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If you’ve read the Appcast whitepaper Diversity Recruiting: A Guide to Best Practice Language Usage, you already have some insight into how job ad language impacts candidate attraction. The Guide looks at language as it relates to gender, sexual orientation, age, race and ethnicity, religion, and ability.

After conducting research for the Guide, Appcast decided to dig deeper into gender-coded words and candidate attraction, specifically from the standpoint of apply rate (AR) and cost per application (CPA), for 22 job functions. What we discovered was fascinating.

What words to use when

Bottom line: The words you use in your job ads matter. However, it is essential to understand your specific recruitment advertising goals and make decisions accordingly by using the most appropriate language for your business.

How do you know what language is appropriate?

We share this information in a new report, The Impact of Gendered Wording on Candidate Attraction

How to use the research

The report basically serves as a roadmap for candidate attraction when your goal is gender diversity. It includes actionable advice based on data, as well as details about any potential tradeoffs. For example, in order to achieve greater gender diversity, you may have to change the language you use in your job ads and/or increase your spend.

While it may sound straightforward, the recommended approaches vary—sometimes dramatically—depending on job function.

It’s also important to recognize that while gender diversity often means attracting more female candidates, for some job functions it means attracting more male candidates. We considered this, too, as part of our analysis.

There’s a lot to consider when your goal is gender diversity—in truth, more than we realized until we conducted research for this report. To facilitate decision-making as it relates to language usage in job ads when the goal is gender diversity, Appcast provides AR and CPA rates, commonly used gender-coded words, and additional background information for each job function.

We hope you will find this report useful. 

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