Hiring 101: How to Attract Diverse Candidates

🙋‍♀️ This is a cross-post from my newsletter, Leading by Design. If you liked the post below, consider subscribing! I post one issue per month.

Photo by Steffen B. on Unsplash

Photo by Steffen B. on Unsplash

In the previous Hiring 101 newsletter issues, we put together a collaborative process to prepare for your hiring round. We also examined methods that you can use to improve and elevate your job descriptions.

You now have a process in place and a shiny job description advertised in all the usual places. What if, after all this work, you still don’t get applications from a diverse candidate pool?

In this LBD issue, we’ll tackle one of the most critical recruiting issues of the last few years: how to attract diverse candidates to your hiring pipeline.

This is the third of a series of writeups on the hiring process. In the following issues, we’ll examine how to structure your interviewing process and train your hiring team to conduct stellar interviews.

🔝 Take it from the top

Representation matters. According to a recent Glassdoor survey, almost 76% of job seekers report a diverse workforce is a fundamental factor when evaluating companies and job offers. Representation is crucial for women especially: about 61% of women will prioritize applying for companies that prominently feature women in their leadership team.

As a first step, before employing any “quick diversity hacks” (spoiler alert: there aren’t any), make sure that diversity is a priority in your company from the top down. As a hiring manager, you can have the best intentions, but that won’t matter if there is no unified D&I strategy in your organisation. Work with HR and construct a specific internal messaging around diversity to advocate for the cultural shift needed.

After ensuring that your leadership team and HR department align with a unified diversity messaging, you can make some manual effort to attract more diverse candidates.

Now is the time for finger quotes diversity hacks

Revisit your job description. Your first order of business should be to audit your job description and make sure it uses gender-neutral, inclusive language. Avoid overly gendered expressions and hyperboles. Make sure you don’t focus on a specific number of years of experience or a massive list of required skills, which might demotivate potential candidates. For more advice, check out the previous LBD issue, “How to Write an Effective Job Description”.

Revisit your website. Your second action should be to take a long, hard look at your website and make sure it matches your diversity claims. Does your “About” page feature the dreaded photo wall of white male executives? Does your “Careers” page feature diverse photography and language? You could also use these pages to showcase some of your most appealing policies for diverse candidates, like flexible hours, options for remote work and mental health days.

Look beyond LinkedIn. If you want to attract diverse candidates, you should advertise your job ad at the places they might look. Nowadays, specialised job boards for specific minorities might work better than the generic LinkedIn ad. Check out large diversity boards like Diversity.com and DiversityWorking.com or further specialise with Hire Autism or Recruit Disability.

Hiring junior? Start from college. If you’re hiring for a junior position, you should expand your search to a broader range of educational institutions. Ivy League colleges carry a poignant legacy but keep in mind that their students come from a very narrow range of backgrounds and lived experiences. Aim for lesser-known universities in areas you wouldn’t usually seek. If your organisation often hires for junior positions, you could also advocate for mentoring and (paid) internship programs.

Get out there. I know that attending in-person meet-ups and conferences during the Covid Times™ is not always feasible, but make sure you let people know about your job openings by attending, sponsoring and supporting minority-focused events. Aim to create relationships with the organisers of these events and other leaders to build a network that can help you attract diverse candidates.

Ask your employees specifically for diverse referrals. Referral programs are often one of the most successful ways to attract more talent to your company. Good people bring good people, after all. However, this can easily result in homogeneous teams and actively harm your diversity effort. Focus your internal messaging around culture add, not culture fit. Offer bonuses for diverse referrals to incentivise your employees and reach passive candidates that you wouldn’t otherwise.

Next up: conducting productive interviews!

After all this preparation work, you’ve screened and evaluated your way through your pipeline, and you now have a shiny shortlist of people that seem a good fit for the position.

Now is the time to make sure your hiring team is ready for the interviewing process. In the next issue, we’ll examine how you can structure and guide the interview process to make it an efficient use of everyone’s time.

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Hiring 101: How to Write an Effective Job Description
Hiring 101: Interviewing Candidates