Here’s How Your Word Choices Could Affect Hiring Gender-Diverse Talent


Currently, over 50,000 job descriptions on LinkedIn include the word “aggressive.” Whether to highlight sales goals, describe the workplace, or suggest the kind of attributes they’re looking for in a candidate. 

New research from LinkedIn shows that using “aggressive” could discourage almost half of women from applying to your job. That’s right, language matters and in our new global Language Matters Gender Diversity report, we’re diving into just how much of an impact words have on your hiring and employee engagement strategies.

Earlier this year, we released the Global Gender Insights report to dissect the behavioral differences in how men and women find jobs. To continue the conversation, the Language Matters Gender Diversity report highlights how men and women react differently to language used both in the hiring process and in the workplace, and what this means for recruiters, HR professionals, and business leaders. 

LinkedIn conducted global research by surveying over 12,000 employees, 3,000 employers, analyzing billions of data points created by more than 630 million members on LinkedIn, and looking at how international media talks about key global leaders. The report includes actionable tips for companies looking to build more gender-diverse teams as well as expert insight from Professor Rosie Campbell, director at the renowned Gender Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London.

Having a gender-diverse pipeline and employee-base is hugely important when creating workplaces that are successful, innovative, and inclusive and an organization that truly meets business needs. We’ve found that language can be a key factor in creating a company culture that cultivates inclusion and belonging across every aspect of the workplace. Let’s dive in. 

Words impact every stage of the hiring process

Language selection impacts every part of the hiring process — both in how companies describe themselves and the tone that they set with candidates. Getting word choice right can influence a company’s ability to attract a gender-balanced workforce.

LinkedIn research shows that women are 16% less likely to apply to a job after viewing it than men. Many factors contribute, including language. Our latest research shows that when words like “aggressive” are used in a job description to describe a company’s workplace, 44% of women (and 33% of men) would be discouraged from applying. A quarter of women would be discouraged from working somewhere described as “demanding.” Check words like these at the door.


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