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Putting interns first at Handshake: 4 Tips for writing inclusive internship job descriptions

Tips on writing winning job descriptions and make a great first impression.

As one of the very first touch points between your company and potential future interns, job descriptions give you an opportunity to make a great first impression. The information you provide about your organization and culture will influence who applies, who you interview, and ultimately, who you hire.

Here at Handshake, we take an Interns First approach to our university recruiting, starting with how we write our job descriptions. Over 70% of students shared with us that they prefer a company that is diverse, inclusive, and makes them feel like they belong regardless of race, geographic location, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, socioeconomic status, and appearance.

Below, we’ve outlined 4 tips to help you write more inclusive job descriptions and encourage students from all backgrounds to apply.

1. Highlight your commitment to diversity, inclusion and belonging

Your opening statement sets the tone for the rest of the job description: By highlighting your mission and explicitly encouraging students from all backgrounds to apply, you send a strong message that candidates can look forward to an inclusive hiring process.

If you choose to include only the generic EEO statement at the end of your job description, students may take this as a sign that your company hasn’t put much thought into fostering inclusive hiring strategies or diversity throughout the organization.

Here at Handshake, we demonstrate our commitment to diversity, inclusion, and belonging by opening our Intern Job Descriptions with our mission and the following statement:

We value diversity of all kinds, and are committed to building a diverse and inclusive workplace where we learn from each other. We are an equal opportunity employer and welcome people of all different backgrounds, experiences, abilities and perspectives. We seek to hire, develop and retain talented people from all backgrounds. Individuals from non-traditional backgrounds, historically marginalized, or underrepresented groups are strongly encouraged to apply.

2. Keep your list of requirements short and sweet

Handshake helps students from all backgrounds navigate the college to career journey, regardless of their school or major. Candidates from non-traditional backgrounds may decide not to apply if they see a long list of qualifications unrelated to skills and traits — qualifications like attending a top tier school, maintaining a certain GPA, or majoring in a particular area of study.

To encourage qualified people from all backgrounds to apply, work with your hiring managers to hone in on listing only the most important requirements. Could an intern perform well at your organization without meeting 100% of the requirements you’ve listed? Continue editing until you’ve pared down the list to only the most essential skills and qualities, and consider adding a sentence encouraging students to apply even if they don’t meet every requirement.

3. Speak about growth & development

When asked what they prioritize most when looking for an employer, 84% of Gen Z respondents cite potential for career growth and progression; students seek internship opportunities that enable them to learn new skills and gain experience in their chosen field to help them jumpstart a meaningful career.

We designed Handshake’s Interns First program around four key pillars that foster interns’ career growth and development. In your job descriptions, highlight the business impact your interns can have, showcase opportunities for learning and experience, and emphasize skill development as a core aspect of their internship.

We close our Intern Job Descriptions with Handshake’s Interns First Program mission:

Handshake’s unique, comprehensive intern program will provide you with the tools and knowledge to carry you forward in your career. As a Handshake Intern, you’ll have an opportunity to experience meaningful work in your area of interest, define your career goals, develop new skills, and build relationships across Team Handshake.

4. Ask your interns for feedback!

While writing this year’s Software Engineering Internship job description, we reached out to our 2018 Summer Interns, who shared valuable feedback to ensure our job description continues to accurately reflect our Interns First program. Special thanks to our interns for their help!

University recruiting plays a key role in driving your larger diversity and inclusion strategy. Creating an inclusive university hiring process that reaches a wide range of students from all backgrounds begins with ensuring your organization uses inclusive internship job descriptions. By posting and promoting the open role on Handshake, millions of college students from all backgrounds and experiences gain access to your opportunity.

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