The Fart Test: Figuring Out How Gender Bias Tools Improve Job Descriptions

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Nov 24, 2020

When I started my company, I read a book called Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller to clarify my marketing message. Miller identifies the seven universal story points that all humans respond to, the real reason customers make purchases, and how to create the most effective messaging for websites, brochures, and social media. 

One of the first activities is defining a universal problem. The only one I could come up with for my company? Hiring is hard. (I know, I know. Duh, Captain Obvious.) 

But, what else could I say that’s truly universal? In our world, if you ask 100 practitioners what the universal problem is, the only guarantee I have for you is that you’ll get 100 different answers. That’s the reality of recruiting. There’s always nuance — by industry, level, size, etc. — when you’re working with one of the world’s most unpredictable variables: people. 

The one variable we can control in this chaos? How we ask. What we say. How we speak to people — in person, in a job post, and in every other interaction throughout the candidate experience. We’re always making an impression, good or bad. 

Add given the growing demand to remove bias and increase diversity at corporations, it’s no surprise that more augmented-writing and bias-assessment technology is on the market than ever before. 

Can Augmented Writing Tools Find a Fart? 

As a career copywriter and HR technology advisor, I was skeptical. Teaching people to write isn’t easy and doesn’t come with many rules outside of grammatical nuance. How, then, to sort out the best from the rest of these tools? 

I did a test* where I typed in random words to see what would happen. So like any grown adult, I typed in the word “fart.” Yes, fart. What happened next really surprised me because my average score across five different tools on an email subject line that simply said fart was a B+. Or 85%. 

While I’m one of the immature people who always find farts funny, I don’t know that the word “fart” is B+ conversion content unless we’re writing to 4th-grade boys. I definitely doubt that 85% of people would think it’s hilarious in the context of their job search and future. 

Training Plus Tools: The Tag Team For Writing That Doesn’t Stink 

So what is the right balance between technological efficiency and training to develop your team and improve their writing skills to create better job postings? 

Before investing in tools, invest in a job-post writing training or a job-post library to establish a baseline for what “good” looks like. Teach your team what a great job post entails, how to do a hiring-manager intake meeting, and how to write a job posting. There are many tactics we use today that infuse bias that your tools won’t highlight. 

Once you’ve done that, you may then invest in a tool as the final step before approving any post. Here’s a shortlist of the top five tools I hear about from customers and industry experts. 

  1. TalVista 
  2. TapRecruit
  4. Ongig
  5. Get-Optimal

Just be sure to train your team before turning to augmented writing solutions that may suck up your budget and stink at creating job postings that qualified candidates will want to read. 

*Note: None of the tools recommended were part of the fart test run. I couldn’t recommend those with a good conscience. 

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