Compliance And Data

How to use appropriate recruiting language during the recruitment process

How to use appropriate recruiting language during the recruitment process
Rachel Hill

Rachel Hill


Recruiters take many things into consideration during the recruitment process: sourcing strategies, promoting ads and interviewing candidates... Something that is almost forgotten throughout this whole process is the recruiting language used.

Language is something we all take for granted every day, including recruiters. It may not seem like a huge deal, but recruiting language is a far more powerful tool than you think. When used well, it has the power to attract applicants to your company. When used badly, you may find yourself with few candidates.

Using the correct recruiting language matters at every stage of the recruitment process. Applicants are unfamiliar with your company, so it is your job to invite them in and show them why they should apply. To achieve this, your recruiting language should highlight the human and relatable sides of your company.

With compliance and diversity rules also becoming more stringent, getting your tone of recruiting language right should be a top priority. You wouldn’t hire someone with sloppy spelling or a rude tone of voice, would you? No, so remember a candidate also expects high standards from you.

So how can you use recruiting language appropriately throughout the recruitment process? See our 4 tips:

Write your job descriptions carefully

Using appropriate recruiting language from the beginning is the best way to improve your strategy - this means writing careful job descriptions. Writing suitable job descriptions is also important in combatting potential compliance and diversity issues. For example, Buffer faced some issues when they used the word ‘hacker’ in their job descriptions. The word discouraged women from applying, which is why Buffer now use the word ‘developer’ instead.

The Buffer example illustrates the importance of using inclusive and non-biased language in your job descriptions. To give you more insight, Hire More Women in Tech discourage the use of adjectives such as ‘dominant’ or ‘superior’, which are seen as male-targeted descriptions. Verbs like ‘determine’ and ‘manage’ are also associated with ‘bro-centric’ culture.

To ensure gender neutrality, use adjectives like ‘proficient’ or ‘sensitive’ that allude to required hard skills and soft skills simultaneously. Using verbs like ‘provide’ and ‘help’ are also more welcoming and appropriate. To further combat the exclusion of certain groups, use plain language as opposed to specific jargon.

recruiting language

Personalise your approach in reaching out to candidates

If you decide to take a more direct approach in your recruitment process and directly message potential candidates, be aware that personalisation is key. Ideally, you should send a different message to everyone in your talent pool. Personalised language works best as it shows that you took the time to review their profile and suitability to the job in question.

Far too many recruiters use generic language when messaging candidates, which illustrates laziness and simply wanting to get the job done. When chances are, with a little bit of personalisation and effort, candidates will open your message. The following are a few weak attempts at personalisation commonly received on LinkedIn:

Having had a brief look at your background I think you would be a good fit for this position

Having looked at your profile, I believe you could make a real impact

Your experience could be a great match when they begin to hire

While these attempts are not terrible, there is nothing here that is specific or related to the candidate. How can you expect candidates to reply when you haven’t evaluated their suitability? To achieve the best response rate, make the message personal and inclusive; use active verbs; relatively informal language; and give detailed information on the opportunity. Perfect grammar and spelling are also essential.

Humanise the interviewing process

The type of language you use during the interview process is also important. While the goal of the interview is to know candidates better, you should also use it as an opportunity to discuss your company culture and bring your company to life. Describe things such as your company values and mission; how your company facilitates employees’ interests; how potential employees can grow and develop at the company. These descriptions will help candidates feel like part of the team even before you hire them.

While this segment shouldn’t sound too rehearsed, the language should be consistent with that used on your careers page and other promotion platforms. Candidates often examine a company’s website before an interview, so the information you give should be error-free, professional and effective. It is also particularly important that you speak clearly and slowly for face-to-face and video interviews.

recruiting language

Rejecting candidates the right way

Unfortunately, you will always reject more people than you hire. While it is easy to craft a congratulatory email, rejection emails aren’t that simple. Often candidates receive a generic email with no feedback. Worse still, even more candidates don’t receive any rejection email.

Candidates have invested a lot of time in your company, so it is important to show that you value their time. When writing a rejection email, be honest, be brief, but not harsh. Explain to the candidate why they didn’t get the role. Chances are, candidates will appreciate the feedback.

When writing rejection emails, think beyond the current situation. A generic or non-existent rejection can cause reputational damage for your company in the long-term. By presenting the rejection in an encouraging way and avoiding words such as ‘unfortunately’ or ‘unsuccessful’, you have the best chance of staying on positive terms with candidates, as well as protecting your company's reputation.

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