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Best Practices for Optimizing Law Enforcement Job Descriptions to Recruit Diverse Candidates

NCJ Number
Date Published
4 pages

This publication reports on research designed to explore the impacts of job descriptions on law enforcement job applications, especially among women; it describes the research methodology and findings, makes recommendations for job descriptions to attract more diverse candidates, and provides example content.


Research indicates that subtle wording choices can impact how prospective applicants perceive advertised jobs and can play a key role in socializing potential applicants to law enforcement agency culture. This document discusses a study conducted by RTI International that explores the impacts of variations on job descriptions that followed standard, diversity-oriented, or policy-oriented wording. The standard wording included the minimum information typically found in policing job descriptions; diversity-oriented wording included information in the standard description along with language that alluded to the agency’s commitment to recruiting diverse applicants and an equal opportunity employer statement; and the policy-oriented wording included information in the standard description along with highlighting the agency’s commitment to work-life balance, listed parental leave under the described benefits, and included academy programs that supported trainees meeting the physical requirements. Findings indicated that the content of the job description was related to several important aspects of applicant perceptions of policing jobs, and women were especially impacted by the changes in the job description language. The document provides six recommendations, followed by specific examples. to help agencies take immediate action regarding job description wording, based on the research findings.