Job Postings and Gender Neutral Language

Job Postings and Gender Neutral Language

What is the purpose of a job posting? To attract candidates with a desirable skill set for a specific position, Right?

So why do so many companies overlook gender coding in their online job postings and job descriptions?  The answer is fairly simple:  Folks may not realize the impact the words they use have on their audience.

Everyone wants their advertisement to stand out from the rest, which is why we will see a number of ‘buzz’ words or phrases used (does the phrase ‘we are looking for a rock star’ make anyone else roll their eyes a little?).  Facts are that some words skew more masculine and some skew more feminine and that impacts who is applying to your job.

So what do we do?

  1. Educate yourself – What adjectives are more masculine vs. more feminine? What are their gender neutral alternatives?

As a quick example, we can explore one of the more commonly used adjectives – Bubbly – often times we’ll see this word in an advertisement for front desk personnel, administrative roles, or receptionist positions.  While we may use this word to attract someone who is outgoing the word itself sits on the more feminine side and may screen out those that don’t identify in that way.  Consider replacing the word all together with something more neutral.

  1. Review, change, re-post

It’s easy to make the right changes in your posts – especially with tools out there like the Gender Decoder for Job Ads.  This is my all-time favorite tool and I frequently double check what I’ve written to ensure that the post uses neutral language that will not unknowingly screen out qualified applicants.

  1. Make it part of your everyday

Last but not least – embrace gender neutral language in your everyday communication.  Using the ‘they, them, their’ pro-nouns when referring to someone (either in a written post or in conversation) keeps your language inclusive!  While some of these changes can be tricky, you are ultimately ensuring that every individual you interact with feels comfortable.

There is A LOT we as staffing professionals can do to weave this into our everyday (job postings, interviews, etc.).  This only scratches the surface, but is certainly a step in the right direction!

The Evolution of ‘Shirley’ – PSG’s Resume Robot

The Evolution of ‘Shirley’ – PSG’s Resume Robot

Technology has taken us to places we never thought we’d go before.

  • Real time health and wellness tracking? Check
  • A drone delivering your paper towels for that week? Double Check
  • Snapchat filter that turns you into a baby? Triple Check

So why did it take us till 2017 to leverage technology to do the tedious work for us?  We didn’t know where to start!

Once upon a time, one PSG team member was tasked with sitting in front of their computer, Outlook inbox open, poised and ready to qualify a resume as soon as it came in.  We figured out a while ago, that if we reached out to a qualified applicant in 5 minutes or less – we were (x) amount more likely to get that individual on the phone.  Of course – getting that person with the stellar resume to answer a call from an unfamiliar number is not always the easiest.  So we started emailing them.

As we took steps to modernize our recruiting process, we kept asking ourselves ‘there must be a better, faster way to qualify these resumes’.  We were having a valuable member of the PSG team spend countless hours staring at an inbox when they could be impacting other areas of the business, and while this is a crucial role we knew that there had to be a better, fast, more efficient way.

Here’s what we did:

  • We pulled together tens of thousands of resumes
  • We reviewed resumes of candidates successfully placed into opportunities with our clients
  • We pinpointed common keywords on those resumes, and fed them into our algorithm? (Think ‘administrative’ or ‘Microsoft Office’)

After that a dedicated team met daily to review the results.  How many resumes were qualified correctly? How many were missed? Why were they missed? What changes need to be made to push the qualified % up?

It took months of tweaking key words, working with the algorithm to make sure the right words were identified in the right spot, and A LOT of painstaking attention to detail.

But we got the robot to be 90% accurate in qualifying incoming resumes.

The best part? Since this is now out of the hands of a human, technology moves so much faster!  We went from scheduling one out of every 5 candidates, to one out of every 3! AMAZING!

3 Ways PSG Improved Candidate Response

When it comes to calling up candidates (let’s be real – even your family and friends), the odds of getting them on the first, second, or even third try is SLIM at best.  And why wouldn’t it be?  In this day and age, we have so many different avenues of communication that picking up an ‘out of the blue’ call just seems exhausting.

That’s why we changed EVERYTHING about how we approach connecting to our candidates in three steps.

  1. Email is great – texting is better

This was an easy suggestion to make, but came with a lot of “what if” statements.

“What if this is too much?”

 “What if response is negative?”

“What if we are over stepping our bounds?”

These are all valid questions, and it’s natural to be nervous about implementing something that we have never tried.  However, we were letting perceived fears get in the way of pushing forward with something new and ultimately successful.  Overall, we saw that we received over 80% of our responses from text message, while email trailed behind.

  1. Follow up, Follow up, Follow up

Texting was a little scary – this downright terrified some people.

The thought of sending multiple messages to individuals in a short period of time brought to mind that episode of The Office – with Ryan trying to convince his co-workers to invest in a new social media platform (WUPHF.com) that would send (at once) a Facebook message, a tweet, a text, an email, and a fax.  Hilarious as the episode was, Ryan’s service seemed a little like overkill.

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However there is a big difference between gentle follow up, and aggressive outreach.

We found that by sending non-responsive candidates a quick “Did you see this?” text after the initial message moved our response rate from 48% at the end of quarter 1 to 63% at the end of quarter 2, and rather than receiving the much feared “stop it!” text, we saw much more “thank you for the reminder” responses.

  1. Diligence in responding back

This one seems like a no brainer, but often times we are so wrapped up in getting the message out that we neglect to put the same care and attention into what we do when we DO get a response.  The speed in which you respond to an engage candidate matters more than any of the above which is why we adhere to a 5 minute response rule – and staff for it.

Anyone that responds to any kind of alert from PSG receives a response in less than 5 minutes to schedule next steps.  In doing this, we ensure that when we have someone’s attention – we keep it – providing a positive experience on both sides.

Annual NEHRA Gala Insights – an event close to our heart(s)!

Benjamin Disraeli famously said “The youth of a nation are the trustees of posterity”, and the young women that were recipients of the NEHRA scholarships are a testament to the immense potential that youth have to make the world a better place. I left the NEHRA gala feeling inspired by their stories, their passions, poise, and most importantly, by the invaluable work that they have been doing in their communities. At such a young age, each of them has such determination to affect positive change in the world by challenging stigmas, cultural norms, and oppressive systems that are impeding true socio-cultural progress. By advocating for the voiceless and going against the grain, they are making a statement that we can create a new reality in which everyone is represented and respected. Nayleth, Bergeline, and Shandira have taken the adversity that they have faced and used it as a motivational force behind their platforms, raising awareness on stigmas on mental health, racism and colorism, and LGBTQIA+ rights. They are living proof that there is no age too young to get involved and make an impact, and are a reminder that we all have a responsibility to step up and make strides to leave the world better than we found it. Everyone in attendance was moved by their stories as they spoke about the trials and tribulations that they have had to power through in life, exuding wisdom beyond their years.

 

Nayleth – Recipient of this year’s Blue Cross Blue Shield of MA Blue Beacon Scholarship

Nayleth is currently a senior at Newton South High School and is planning on attending Harvard University in the fall. 

Nayleth is a remarkable young woman who has left her mark on the Newton South community as well as in the community of Hyde Park, where she lives.   As a METCO student she learned to effectively balance her “two communities” helping to reach across cultural divides.  She has been a leader within the school as a member of the South Senate and the Student Advisory Council.   She has been recognized for her ability to communicate effectively, receiving several debate and speech awards.

Nayleth’s guidance counselor had this to say about her, “Nayleth is fearless in exploring opportunities.  She jumps in to her passions with enthusiasm and energy that is unparalleled.  She takes on leadership roles and works well with diverse groups of peers.”  Her leadership in school extends to her Boston community where she has led a Youth Community Organizing program at Sociedad Latina, where she helped to engage other youth in workshops on social issues.  In her own words she describes the culmination of her summer experience this way, “I was able to inspire others to step out of their comfort zones, with the understanding that we are not defined by others, but that we define ourselves”.

Within the Newton South community, Nayleth has been a leader and facilitator for the Courageous Conversations on Race program.  The program is designed to improve race relations at the school by giving students the tools to have civil conversations about race and identity.  Most recently she engaged students who were struggling with the concept of white privilege.  She was able to share her own experiences as a student of color at the school.  But more importantly she was able to listen respectfully to their dialogue and guide it to a better place.

She has discovered that “living in two worlds” has allowed her to more deeply understand who she is and who she will be.  “She knows that she is valuable bridge between peoples and cities and cultures.”  She ended her essay with an apt quote from Walt Whitman, “Do I contradict myself?  Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.)”

 

Bergeline – Recipient of this year’s Gaucher and Associates Scholarship

 

Bergeline is currently a senior at Boston Community Leadership Academy and is hoping to attend Georgetown University in the Fall. 

Bergeline is an outstanding student and an emerging activist.  She can already see herself running for public office – becoming a voice for change and justice.  She pursued a role in student government so that she could be a voice for students who have not yet found their voice.  She is a born champion and a committed advocate.  When the issue of a ban on head scarves came up she jumped into action – she lead a social media campaign; she organized a day of action at the school to demonstrate not only the importance of this issue but to show how students speaking up could make positive change.  After discussion with faculty and school administration the policy was changed.

More importantly this effort gave birth to defineBLACK.  DefineBLACK’s mission is to embrace our differences but also cherish our similarities.  The group has fostered discussion about the cultural variations that exists within the black community.  The success of the club was acknowledged when they were invited by school administration to revise the student handbook to better fit the needs of the students. 

In the interview process Bergeline described herself as strong, optimistic and funny.  She described how she has been able to use humor to educate and confront in a way that is respectful and meaningful.  Whether she is confronting the need for an appropriate prayer space for Muslim students or coaching a younger student, Bergeline is a compassionate leader.  The school’s headmaster has experienced Bergeline’s commitment to making her school a better place for everyone first hand..  The Headmaster describes her as empathetic, with the ability to step outside of her own life experience and  see the needs of others and then advocate for them.  Bergeline epitomizes peer leadership;, she can both identify with her peers and still understand the diverse perspectives that can be present. 

This quote from her headmaster sums up Bergeline best, “Bergeline will take advantage of every opportunity college will offer – her tenacity dictates it.  She will also be an asset to any school or community that honor diverse voices and is committed to cultivating future leaders”.

 

Shandira – Recipient of this year’s Professional Staffing Group Scholarship

Shandira is currently a senior at Boston Latin Academy and is hoping to attend Pitzer College in Claremont, CA in the Fall.

Shandira is an outstanding student with a passion for learning and social justice.  She described herself during the interview as an “over-achiever”, interconnected and Insightful.  She is an exceptional student who has maintained her status on the Honor Roll since she enrolled.  Her guidance counselor said she improved every year and is the type of student who will rise to any academic challenge.  This is also evidenced by her selection and participation in the SCS Noonan Scholars program – a program that supports college bound first generation students, students from low income backgrounds and students of color.  She is always committed to doing her absolute best.

In her school community she has consistently demonstrated leadership and a strong commitment to make the school a better place for everyone.  She is a member of the student government as a senator as well as being a part of the Greater Boston Regional Student Advisory Council.  As an Ambassador in the Ambassadors Club she has helped to ensure that all students feel welcomed and included.  As a student intern in WorkSmart she has participated in a Job Readiness Training Workshop and Boston’s Bridge to Excellence. 

Another school faculty member said the following; “I am most impressed by her unwavering commitment to social justice and equity.  I have watched her grow into a compassionate and humble leader in our community”.  She is dedicated to making sure that every voice is heard.  Her passion for diversity and inclusion is evident in her commitment to support and advocate for the undocumented students who attend her school.  After a particularly cruel and insensitive comment directed at a friend, she worked to create the Student Immigrant Movement Club (SIM Club).  The club is designed to create a safe place for students to discuss the complex issues surrounding immigration.  She has lead workshops and activities that raise awareness about the unique challenges faced by immigrant students. 

As an emerging student leader and activist Shandira has found her voice.  In her own words – “now that we have started having real conversations about immigration, LGBTQ rights and education reform I never want to stop.  For the first time, I feel I have a voice to share that can defend others and actively influence people’s opinions of immigrant, queer, POC and other minorities, like myself.”

 

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be in the presence of the inspirational young leaders of tomorrow. Nayleth, Bergeline, and Shandira are so deserving of the support provided by the NEHRA scholarship. Their futures are so bright, and I cannot wait to see the incredible things that they will accomplish. One can only imagine where the world would be if we had more people like them. I gained perspective and insight from these recipients, and I do believe that we all can learn from the coming generations who challenge the status quo, and who take initiative to create the change we all know is needed but that few want to take on.

 

 

3 step formula for resume ‘bullet-points’

3 step formula for resume ‘bullet-points’

Taking “Best Practices” and making them “How-To’s”

Hi everyone,

In our effort to continue providing concrete ‘how-to’ content vs. just ‘best-practice’ content, we wanted to further explore tips for writing a resume.

While writing this post, I kept finding myself reaching back to a LinkedIn article from 2014 by Laszlo Bock (former SVP of people operations at Google) and I realized that I’m not going to say this better than Laszlo already has

We all know that ‘bullet-points’ on the resume are really important, but if you’re still listing out responsibilities and using a thesaurus (do they still exist?) to dress it up, please click the link below, it’s worth the 10 minute read.

Laszlo did a terrific job breaking down the resume to a tangible ‘how-to’ using the formula:

Accomplished [X] as measured by [Y] by doing [Z] (click to link to the article!!)

If you’ve read the article and still need help taking your resume to the next level applying this formula – please send me an e-mail, I’d be more than happy to walk through this tailored to your specific resume (jpickering@psgstaffing.com)

Job Search Resources: How Many is Too Many?

Job Search Resources:  How Many is Too Many?

Taking “Best Practices” and making them “How-To’s”

Answer: There’s no such thing as too many resources for a job search! (ok, maybe 50+ is too many, but hear me out)

My goal with this post is to help provide a Check-List of Job Search Resources and let you experiment with each one to figure out what works best for you. I’m not here to declare which resource is better than the other because in the real world, it’s completely dependent on the person and their specific situation.

Depending on who you ask, everyone has a different “go-to” resource for the job search (probably on the list below) and each person swears by their method as the only way to find a job. I’m not a believer in a one-resource-fits-all model which is why I strongly recommend trying each resource, even if on a small scale, for the most effective results.

I’ve also included at least 1 quick tip for each resource, but I’d love to do a more thorough action plan if you want to talk more. Shoot me a quick email (jpickering@psgstaffing.com) or give me a call (617 250 1078) and who knows… if people want to see it, I can even write more detailed posts for each of the listed resources below.

Here’s the check-list based on the most popular suggestions I’ve heard from both active and passive job-seekers over the past year:

  1. Networking – Quick Tip: Make a list of family, friends, classmates, old colleagues, alumni, etc. and send at least 10 e-mails or make 10 phone calls a day working down the list asking for help
  2. Referral from someone at the company – Quick Tip: Use LinkedIn to target someone you know at the company you want to work for and have them to submit your resume on your behalf
  3. Referral from someone outside the company – Quick Tip: If you aren’t connected to anyone directly at the company, find someone who works there that is connected to someone in your LinkedIn network and ask for an email introduction
  4. Job boards (post your resume) – Quick Tip: if you’re worried about unwanted emails, set up an email account specifically for your job search where all resume inquiries can go
  5. Job boards (apply to ads) – Quick Tip: Don’t just use the major job boards (Indeed, ZipRecruiter, Monster, Glassdoor, etc.) Use the specialized sites too like Higheredjobs.com, idealist.org, or Dice.com
  6. Corporate websites – Quick Tip: Take advantage of instant connection opportunities like Live Chat and Messenger apps for companies on the cutting edge of hiring
  7. Staffing agencies – Quick Tip: Don’t partner with just one; sign on with multiple recruiters to maximize your exposure to new opportunities.
  8. Social media – Quick Tip: If you’re interested in start-up’s or Tech-savvy companies, check out classic social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and even Snap Chat where new jobs are posted.

PS – Have another great way to find a job that didn’t crack our list? I want to hear about it! Leave the suggestion in the comments or contact me directly with the feedback

Happy Searching!!

5 ways to get your resume to 1 page

5 ways to get your resume to 1 page

Taking “Best Practices” and making them “How-To’s”

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a hundred times – “your resume should be 1 page!” The problem is; that’s where the advice ends. Everyone seems to agree that a resume should stick to 1 page, but an actual guideline for what to edit is still missing

Here are 5 tips as part of our “1 page resume guideline” that will take you from knowing your resume needs to be shorter to actually making your resume shorter.

  1. How big is the font? If the answer isn’t 10, make this change now… font size ’10’. If you’re already ahead on this one, take it down to 9.5. It might seem like a small concession but in reality it could save you 2-3 lines of valuable space.
  1. Do you have an objective or summary at the top? I get it, it can be tough to tell your story through a resume, but using an objective or summary is a DOUBLE NEGATIVE! Not only does it take up prime resume space, but you’re also holding yourself to a specific position or background. It can box you in and land in the dreaded “no” pile
  1. Save the Personal Interests for Social Media! You’d be shocked how many resumes include a section at the bottom of personal interests. I’m all for building a relationship and getting to know a person, but the bottom of a resume isn’t the time or the place.
  1. Stop equally dividing bullet points under each job! Your most recent position should have 5-8 accomplishment-based bullet points. That doesn’t mean all the jobs on the resume deserve the same real-estate. The further back the job in your career, the fewer bullet points it should have describing your accomplishments (2-3 tops). The more jobs you have, the less space you’ll have for bullets so make sure to save the majority for your most recent positions.
  1. Spacing, spacing, spacing. There are so many little ways to save a line here, or a line there on a resume that can really make a difference. Here are a few quick hacks:
    1. For Contact Info, put your email and phone # on the same line (instead of 2)
    2. For Skills, list them on one line using commas instead of multiple lines with bullet points
    3. Instead of double spacing between sections, try single spacing after inserting a “line break”
    4. Leave off employment from pre-graduation / non-relevant experience to the job

 Tried all 5 tips and still over a page? Here are a few more hints…

  • Put your best foot forward (lead with your strengths on top)
  • If it’s not relevant to the job you’re applying to… leave it off!
  • Assess each line of the resume looking for “wasted space”

I’d love to connect about this if you’re still having trouble or want to share feedback. Here are the best ways to get a hold of me and I promise you’ll hear back within 24 hours!!

  • Send me an email (jpickering@psgstaffing.com)
  • Give me a call 617-250-1078 (that’s my direct line)
  • Or, if you happen to be on our website, chat in and tell the operator you’re looking for me and 1 page resume advice. They will help us connect!