Increasing the size of your talent pool is a sure-fire way to attract better-quality candidates. But for many organisations, the recruitment process contains subtle flaws that discourage diverse candidates from applying.
How can your choice of adjectives in a job advert cause your organisation to miss out on top talent? How can we alter our understanding of excellence and biases towards certain career paths? Use the following approaches to expand, rather than limit, the pool of talent drawn to your organisation.
1.Broadcast your Diversity & Inclusion initiatives
Why hide the light of your D&I program under a bushel? Simply having a diversity program is a key step towards attracting high-quality diverse candidates, but they won’t know about it if the information is buried in a footnote on the company website.
Highlight the program front-and-centre on your organisation’s website and other publications and celebrate successes in this area. Importantly, a note about your organisation’s diversity approach can be included in job ads to explicitly encourage diverse candidates to apply.
Don’t try to increase diversity at your organisation by stealth. Having an open and honest discussion about diversity and inclusion will not only attract new talent but is an effective way to minimise potentialbacklash from current employees who feel threatened by the change program.
2.Write your job ads with care
People familiar with real estate adverts understand that many of the formulaic phrases in use are actually code for something else. “Cosy”, for example, means limited space, while “DIY Dream” often means the house is in danger of falling apart.
Writers of job ads have to be similarly careful to avoid gendered and non-inclusive language. Words such as “assertive” or “competitive” can be seen as code for “male” (even if this is unintended) and may subsequently discourage women from applying. Similarly, using terms like “outgoing” may limit the number of introverted candidates applying for the role, despite their performance history being equal or better than that of extroverted professionals.
Trim your “laundry list” of requirements for the role down to a handful of essentials, because women are less likely than men to apply for jobs if they feel they don’t meet all the requirements. Consider adding a disclaimer to your job ad encouraging people to apply even if they don’t precisely match the job specifications.
3.Broaden your thinking
Michelle Obama wrote in her memoir, Becoming, that she turned her organisation’s hiring practices upside-down to focus on candidate’s “potential, not pedigree”. Learning how to place value on non-traditional career paths had the immediate effect of expanding the talent pool.
“Think about how they’d used whatever opportunities life had afforded them rather than measuring them simply by how far they’d made it up an elitist academic ladder”, Obama wrote.
Today, fourteen major organisations including Google, IBM and Apple no longer require employees to have a tertiary degree.
4.Use a sample work test
While face-to-face interviews are an important chance to get to know the candidate, they’re also the main point of the recruitment process where unconscious biases can come into play, especially where interviewers are not aware of their potential biases.
Confident and articulate candidates have a clear advantage over their less confident competitors in job interview situations, where interviewers can be influenced by a candidate’s glibness or verbal hesitation despite these qualities having little bearing on the job itself.
Building a sample work test into your recruitment process can help bring your selection criteria back to a single, objective question – can the candidate do the job? Sample work tests are standard in many industries such as publishing, where aspiring editors and proof-readers will be asked to correct or improve a sample piece of writing under exam conditions before progressing (or not) to the interview stage.
Talk to Six Degrees Executive about how to make your recruitment process inclusive.
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