I’ve been looking at a lot of job posts recently trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up and exploring some part time work. I know these posts are done with the best of intentions and some are done with the backing of a fully trained HR department, yet a few simple changes would make the job post much more inclusive.
Some simple things to consider when posting your job or writing a job description:
- The purpose of a job description is to list the essential job functions.
- What tasks do you want the person in the role to do on a daily, weekly, monthly basis?
- What tasks are at the heart of the creation of this position within your organization?
If some of these specific tasks have to be completed in a specific way, that should also be listed. If the employee needs to perform work in a computer database, or they need to collect paperwork in person, or they need to communicate in-person with co-workers on a daily basis this should be clearly detailed.
If the work is done in an office environment, you should describe that environment, or if it is done remotely, you should describe the equipment that will be provided. If travel is involved, that should be clearly noted.
Yet a clear description of environment and tasks is not what I see in most job posts.
What I see is:
- Must be able to hear and speak clearly.
- Must be able to lift 50lbs.
- Must be able to walk around the building.
- Must have a car and be able to drive to other offices.
- I see sentences that start with “Must be able to” …followed by a sensory specific description that is not actually necessary to complete the task.
I know what you are thinking, these are essential to this job. The task might be essential but the way of accomplishing the task might not be. Re-wording these phrases opens the door for reasonable accommodations that still meet the organization’s needs.
Instead of: Must be able to hear and speak clearly.
Try: Must be able to effectively communicate in person and over the phone with co-workers, clients and/or the public. (Assistive technology or CapTel phones are reasonable accommodations)
Instead of: Must be able to lift 50lbs.
Try: Must be able to move items weighing up to 50lbs. (There are so many tools that can help lift heavy items, carts, pulleys, dolleys, jacks, etc)
Instead of: Must be able to walk around the building.
Try: The person in this position frequently needs to move around the building and from their office to the front desk. (Someone can walk or use a wheelchair.)
Instead of: Must be able to drive to other offices.
Try: This position involves local travel to meetings across town at other offices. (Rideshare services can meet this need.) There are jobs where driving is an essential job function and would need to be listed as such and there are many jobs that list this as a qualification when a rideshare or public transportation would meet the same function.
Remember, describe what type of tasks need to be done. Describe the environment. Describe the amount and distance of travel. Don’t limit the way a task can be accomplished. Finally, remember to include contact information for reasonable accommodations needed to complete the application process.
1:4 US adults are living with a disability, inclusivity is good for everyone and for your business.
For more information, contact your local ADA resource center.
Or explore this article about writing inclusive job descriptions.