“Digital solutions ninja” may sound like a more exciting job than “tech support,” but do quirky job titles like these attract or repel candidates? Fast Company’s Lydia Dishman highlights some research that suggests the latter:
According to jobs platform Indeed, the top five are genius, guru, rockstar, wizard, and ninja. The winning titles were identified as the most common “weird job titles” as calculated by the share of postings containing them over the last two years. Rockstar, in particular, has grown in frequency by 19%, followed closely by guru, although the latter has lost some steam as it’s declined by 21%. Ninja itself is experiencing a slow assassination, declining by 35% since its peak in March 2017. But does the quirkiness really result in surfacing qualified candidates?
Paul Wolfe, senior vice president of HR at Indeed, thinks they just serve to confuse people. “When you do your [job] search,” he contends, “you’re not going to put ninja” in the search box. “Companies use these to express what their culture is like,” Wolfe concedes, “but there are other ways to get that point out.” Career pages on a website that contain videos, photos, and other descriptions of what it’s like to work at the company are a better vehicle than a cutesy title.
A 2016 survey by Spherion came to a similar conclusion about these too-clever-by-half job titles, finding that many employees consider them unprofessional and not descriptive of what they actually do. Even more ordinary titles like “specialist” or “project manager” are often seen as too generic.
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The development of business software and advancement of analytics are playing a big role in shaping the future of the HR function, and diversity and inclusion is no exception to this change. Last year, SAP announced a commitment to building software to enable corporate diversity on its popular SuccessFactors HCM Suite. Updates beginning this month will aim to remove bias from the hiring, performance review, and promotion processes.
One new feature will scan job descriptions for biased terminology geared towards men and recommend words to replace them. By the end of the year, another new feature promises to prevent managers from making biased decisions in staffing, compensation or promotions. Sarah Kessler has the details at Quartz:
Companies will have the option to set rules for their organizations, such as triggering a notification when a woman who has previously been rated highly gets down-rated after they take a leave of absence (which could be indicative of bias against women who take maternity leave) or if someone who has been rated highly consistently for years has been overlooked for promotions.
Diversity-conscious organizations are well aware of the unique challenges posed by unconscious and implicit bias, but some may not realize how deeply ingrained these biases are, right down to the language we use in work conversations, interviews, and job ads. In an effort to help companies attract a more diverse pool of applicants, several startups have developed technological solutions that combine the theory of linguistics with the power of big data to identify the words and phrases that discourage women and minorities from applying. TL Andrews profiles two leaders in this field at Quartz:
Textio has helped companies increase female job applicants by 23% compared to previous hiring rounds. (The software also draws in 25% more candidates overall who are qualified to make it to the interview round.) Kieran Snyder, co-founder of Textio, says they are able to get these results by eliminating phrases in job ads such as “coding ninja” or “fast-paced work environment,” which tend to attract mostly white males. To replace these terms, the tool suggests inclusive phrases such as “collaborative” that appeal to a broader range of potential employees. …
From gendered language in job ads to overused sports and military metaphors and incomprehensible corporate jargon, the language of the business world can be alienating to underrepresented groups, particularly women. The same is true of the words we use to describe women leaders and their accomplishments. That’s why Fast Company editor Kathleen Davis would like to do away with such condescending neologisms as “SHE-EO,” “Girlboss,” and “momtrepreneur”:
We rarely use this kind of special (and sometimes infantilizing) language for other under-represented groups, and in many cases to do so would feel like a slur. By calling out that a manager or CEO or entrepreneur happens to be a woman is to qualify that person’s accomplishments as “less than.” In that version of the world there are regular bosses and then there is a lower subset of “lady bosses.”
It’s equivalent to saying that Shonda Rhimes is successful for a woman show-runner or that Serena Williams is talented for a female athlete. These women don’t need their gender to qualify their success any more than a middle-manager needs her gender used as a preface to how she led a meeting. …
In an increasingly interconnected global economy, the ability to operate in a multicultural and multilingual environment is an increasingly desirable trait among employees, especially in leadership roles. Major companies are looking to add more international experience to their boardrooms, and a lack of intercultural skills can derail the careers of global leaders.
Accordingly, fluency in more than one language is one of many soft skills employers are looking for in talent today. The value of polyglot employees is the subject of Gabrielle Hogan-Brun’s new book Linguanomics: What is the Market Potential of Multilingualism? Writing at Quartz, Hogan-Brun lays out the case for how multilingual employees, and particularly multilingual teams, can give an organization a leg up in innovation:
Observations of multi-language work teams show that mixed-language groups have a propensity to find innovative solutions for practical problems. This is because they use a range of communication strategies in flexible and dynamic ways. When speakers from different language backgrounds work together using a common language, they draw on subconscious concepts that lie below the surface of the language they happen to be conversing in. …
So what is going on in the heads of these polyglots?
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When we talk about removing bias from the recruiting process, we often talk about developing innovative new ways to conduct interviews or replacing the traditional resume-and-interview process with something like a skills test that makes the process less dependent on the hiring manager’s subjective judgment and inherent biases—or even partly or entirely automating the hiring process.
However, recruiting begins before the candidate sends in their application, and scholars of bias have recently begun to focus on how the language of job ads and recruiter emails may be discouraging women or minorities from applying at all. In an interview at Harvard Business School Working Knowledge, Harvard Kennedy School professor Iris Bohnet, whose work we’ve looked at before, explains how organizations can take the implicit gender bias out of their job ads:
There are two easy key ways to take the gender bias out of job ads, Bohnet says: One, purge the gendered language. Two, limit the number of mandatory qualifications to apply for the job.
In What Works, she cites the example of an elementary school advertising for “a committed teacher with exceptional pedagogical and interpersonal skills to work in a supportive, collaborative work environment.” The potential problem is that “supportive,” “collaborative” and even “committed” are widely associated with femininity, which may detract men from applying. …