Gender Gap at Work: 2022 Study
Is gender inequality in the workplace yesterday's story? Here’s what people really think about the current situation of men and women at work.
What does the perfect hiring process look like? 1000 employees share their experiences with job hunting and open up about what they really expect from recruiters.
As seen in:
Recruitment is like a roller coaster ride. It gives you a thrill but can also make you sick.
Constantly scrolling job offers. Feeling up and down. Winning, losing, fighting.
Job postings are heavy on buzzwords. But light on specific information about the position.
High hopes dashed by a low salary. Or, more likely, nothing about salary at all.
Dozens of resumes sent. No job interview landed.
You’re a perfect cultural fit for the company. But with an imperfect skill set for the job.
Too old, too young, overqualified, underqualified… Everything at once.
Sound familiar? You’re not alone. The list of job-hunting pet peeves seems endless. Unrealistic expectations, vague job descriptions, and age-biased postings are just the tip of the iceberg.
Let’s have a look at some recent data on the recruitment process.
Recruitment is accepted as a time-consuming and stressful process, requiring a great deal of patience. But does it have to be like that? Not necessarily. Smart companies are rethinking their recruitment strategies to attract top talents. But how about the others? Is their awareness growing? What does it mean to job seekers? Let’s find out.
At Zety, we surveyed 1000 employees to examine:
But that’s not all. Keep reading to discover what else our study unveiled.
To begin with, we asked respondents a few questions about their experience with job seeking.
Digging deeper, of those who had applied for a job, we also wanted to know how many applications they made in the last year. The answers were the following:
When it came to the number of job interviews they landed, these are the answers we got:
Interestingly, participants working in the business and finance sector seemed the most active job seekers. In the last 12 months, 33% of them have applied for a job 41–55 times, and 42% have had 11–19 job interviews. Busy bees.
Let’s move on to such burning recruitment issues as timing and feedback.
Are recruitment processes too long, too short, or timed perfectly? Opinions vary.
Time to closely examine candidates’ experiences and perspectives on feedback.
Is feedback a must in the perfect hiring process, then? According to the vast majority of our respondents, it definitely is.
Still, there were some disparities in answers given by survey takers from different demographic groups. People with greater work experience and those employed at bigger companies would most likely expect confirmation of their application delivery.
Another noteworthy study finding to mention here:
We also asked how long it should take from the time you send your resume to the first contact from the company. The answers were the following:
When it comes to time from the last stage of the recruitment process to receiving a final decision, participants claimed it should take:
Let’s sum up. Recruiters shouldn’t keep potential employees in suspense for more than a week. This applies both to the first and the final contact from the company.
Interestingly, participants without college degrees seemed the most patient group of survey takers. 16% wouldn’t have a problem with waiting for three weeks or more for their first contact from the employer. 17% could wait the same amount of time for the final decision.
We finished this section by asking about the number of stages that a perfect recruitment process has. The answers were the following:
Less is often more. An overly complex, multistaged recruitment process may be discouraging for many valuable candidates.
Applying for jobs can be a complicated process, but if you pay little attention to it, you can discourage talented people from applying for a position. Just like in marketing, in which the goal is to create the quickest route from first engagement to conversion, the same care should be taken in getting a candidate to apply.
Designing an application process that is simple to understand, easy to fill out, and asks for just the information needed for initial screening needs, is the best way to avoid a candidate becoming discouraged or exasperated with the number of steps needed just to get their preliminary information in. By spending as much time simplifying your application process, you will avoid losing candidates to an overbearing list of tasks and is one of the best practices to improve recruitment efforts.
Let’s move on to the thing that makes us apply in the first place. Job postings.
What attracts applicants, and what puts them off in job postings? Let’s find out. We asked our respondents to choose up to three options to complete the sentence: “I would be discouraged from applying for a job if…”
[ethnic minorities—82%, education industry workers—81%, master degree holders—80%]
[master degree holders—85%]
[ethnic minorities—78%; healthcare—46%]
[ethnic minorities—82%, healthcare—55%)
[software/IT—70% vs. healthcare—44%; ethnic minorities—75%]
[blue collar workers—75%]
[blue-collar workers—80% vs. white-collar workers—59%; healthcare—50%]
As you can see, applicants don’t want to waste their time applying for a job when what the job is and what it involves seems vague. They also need to be paid fairly compared to similar roles. And unclear job descriptions and insufficient pay can discourage even the most determined job seekers from applying for the given position.
Let’s change the perspective now. We also examined what could attract candidates to apply for the job. The procedure was the same. Participants checked up to three options to complete the sentence: “I would be encouraged to apply for a job if…”
[company hiring more than 501 employees—91%]
[company hiring more than 501 employees—90%]
[Bachelor's degree holders—81% vs. no college degree holders—69%]
[education—81% vs. healthcare—58%]
[business & finance—82% vs. education—68%]
Respondents considered engaging job descriptions, work duties corresponding with their interests, growth opportunities, and flexible work arrangements more important than a high salary. Money is not everything. Employers, take note.
What’s the recipe for a good job posting, then?
Good job postings strike an effective balance between laying out the requirements and qualifications for the job and also selling the position by mentioning the perks. Including the compensation range is a key first step here, but talking about your company's culture and the kind of work they would be doing in a qualitative sense also matters a lot to thoughtful job applicants.
We also investigated the language of job postings.
Digging deeper, we examined which are the most liked and most disliked words and phrases used in job postings.
The top 10 best were:
Conversely, the top 10 worst were:
Notably, the highest-rated phrases are associated with good energy, growth, and flexibility. On the other hand, those ranked as the worst are exclusive/discriminatory (“recent graduates,” “a young, energetic team”), related to potential failure (“only shortlisted candidates will be contacted”), and negative workplace atmosphere (“under pressure,” “stressful situations”), or too vague (“negotiable salary”).
Other crucial areas to investigate while reflecting on perfect recruitment are discrimination and bias in the hiring process. What’s the scale of the problem? And what can employers do to prevent it from happening? Let’s see.
We asked research participants if they’d ever been discriminated against during recruitment. The answers touched a raw nerve.
Other worthwhile study findings to note:
So recruitment discrimination does exist, but candidates are very aware of it, and the majority want to see it eradicated.
But how can this be achieved? What are some best inclusive hiring practices?
In my experience, the best way to ensure job postings are gender/age bias-free is to keep your eyes open for language that might be unintentionally biased. For example, if I'm writing a job description and I use the phrase “must play well with others,” it's easy for me to assume that this is a requirement for every role at every company. But it's not! Not all companies require their employees to work well together.
So instead of using the phrase "must play well with others," I would just say something like: “This position requires you to work with other employees.” That leaves room for someone who is an amazing individual contributor but doesn't excel at collaboration or teamwork. It also leaves room for someone who thrives in a collaborative environment but isn't good at working independently—both of which are equally valid skill sets!
Use gender and age-neutral language in all of your job postings. For instance, Instead of using “he” or “she,” use “they” or “the successful candidate.” Additionally, avoid using gendered job titles, such as “salesman” or “waitress,” and instead use gender-neutral titles like “sales representative” or “server.” When it comes to age, avoid using age qualifiers such as ‘young,’ ‘energetic,’ ‘mature and experienced,’ or ‘recent graduate’. The best practice is to focus on the job-related qualifications, including the skills, experience, and education necessary for the job. It’s also critical that the individuals responsible for creating and reviewing job postings represent a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences. This can help to identify and eliminate any biases that may be present in the posting. You could also use an online tool, such as Textio or Gender Decoder, that analyzes your job posting for gender and age bias and suggests alternative language.
Let these experts’ opinions be food for thought for any employers, hiring managers, and recruiters here. Time to move on to job interviews.
Next, we moved on to job interviews. We investigated participants’ experiences, attitudes, and expectations.
Interestingly, there were noticeable differences in answers among various demographic groups. Some respondents seemed way happier about their experience with job interviews than others. [% of positive/very positive answers]:
When asked about the preferable format for of job interview, survey takers answered as follows:
[education—49% vs. software/IT—38%; no college degree 27%]
Participants also shared what was most important to them during an interview.
[over 41y/o—65% vs. under 25 y/o—49%; education—70% vs. software/IT—55%]
[26-40 y/o—58% vs. over 41 y/o—48%]
[healthcare—54% vs. education—40%]
[under 25 y/o—47% vs. 26–40 y/o—33%]
[healthcare—43% vs. education—28%]
Once again, clear information about pay proved crucial in the recruitment process. No surprise. After all, money doesn’t grow on trees. And it is usually one of the key motivators to work.
The final question was, “What’s the maximum number of questions that should be asked during a job interview?”. Survey takers answered as follows:
Not too few, not too many. Striking a balance usually seems the best option.
What job interview practices contribute to the perfect recruitment process?
Interviews are a two-way street. Recruiters are tasked with assessing candidates' experience, industry knowledge, and how they will demonstrate alignment with the company. Therefore, candidates should assess the company and role to ensure both align with their interests and career objectives. This goes back to the importance of companies posting informative job descriptions and the impact it has on attracting top talent. Candidates will know what the company is looking for to solve and how their experience will execute the business needs. It is important to bring your authentic self to all conversations, become comfortable speaking about your accomplishments, and know your value. As your interview comes to a close, be prepared to ask the recruiter a few questions. Candidates’ questions should be strategic, relevant, and intentional.
Let’s focus on recruiters ghosting potential employees now.
Almost 7 in 10 (68%) survey takers declared they had been ghosted by a recruiter. Two demographic groups that were particularly affected were ethnic minority participants (84%) and master’s degree holders (82%).
We also collected opinions about ghosting jobseekers.
Ghosting job applicants is a serious problem. What are the reasons for that? Is there anything to stop it? Let's see what experts have to say.
Ghosting is, unfortunately, becoming more common because many recruiters are overloaded. Ghosting is likely to take place for two reasons, the recruiter simply does not have or take the time, or the recruiter is not confident in how to decline candidates in a positive way. The recruiter bandwidth issue could be overcome by utilizing an ATS that will automatically decline all interviewees once a candidate has been hired. For the difficult conversations piece, recruiters should role play and practice with a mentor or leader to gain confidence in how to decline a candidate and still keep them in their network for future opportunities. A decline for a job should not equal a burned bridge, but recruiters need to be trained on how to do that effectively.
Employee ghosting by recruiters is totally unacceptable. One reason may be that recruiters are so busy that they get overextended and get sloppy and simply do not have the time to follow up. Companies need to make sure that they have policies and practices in place to stop ghosting and require to follow up, and make sure they staff the recruiting function at a reasonable level. Perhaps ghosted candidates can post reviews of boards like Glassdoor so that organizations that ghost frequently will be called out so that people will avoid applying with them.
The recruitment process can be a battlefield. Still, the greater the effort, the greater the glory.
The good news is that more and more companies are adopting the employee-centered approach to hiring. As a result, they keep improving their talent acquisition techniques, use tools to remove bias, and, therefore, broaden their candidate pool.
The findings presented were obtained by surveying 979 respondents online via a bespoke polling tool. They were asked questions about job hunting and the recruitment process. These included yes/no questions, scale-based questions relating to levels of agreement with a statement, questions that permitted the selection of multiple options from a list of potential answers, and a question that permitted open responses. All respondents included in the study passed an attention-check question.
The data we are presenting relies on self-reports from respondents. Everyone who took our survey read and responded to each question without any research administration or interference. We acknowledge there are many potential issues with self-reported data, like selective memory, telescoping, attribution, or exaggeration.
Want to share the findings of our research? Go ahead. Feel free to use our images and information wherever you wish. Just link back to this page, please—it will let other readers get deeper into the topic. Additionally, remember to use this content exclusively for non-commercial purposes.
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