Being Inclusive when Recruiting

Shawnee Love   •   November 10, 2020

I am a firm believer in using job postings and your employment brand in general to help candidates “self-select”.  That means, if you are very articulate about what it takes to be successful in the job, it will be easier for people to identify whether they are qualified or not. As an employer, the fewer unqualified candidates that apply for your open position, the more efficient your selection process can be.

However, I would like to take this opportunity to point out that my promotion of clearly articulated criteria does not mean discriminating against people unless the reason for discriminating is necessary to the job. This nuance can sometimes be missed when writing job ads, particularly when we simply aren’t thinking about being inclusive.

Case in point, are you hiring a Foreman or Journeyman? Could you instead hire a Foreperson? Or a Journeyperson? Or perhaps a Superintendent or Supervisor or Red Seal Carpenter?

And I don’t mean to pick on the trades. Discriminatory language appears in ads for professional positions as well.  Have you ever asked for a Salesman or indicated that applicants must be clean cut or clean shaven? Those words tell women the job is not for them.

Consider a posting where you indicate you want a “seasoned business leader”. That statement pretty much always means young people need not apply.  (I am guilty of this one as well sadly.)

What can you do to correct this? For starters, take a look at your recruitment ads and consider whether they are unnecessarily excluding people.  Change Salesman to Salesperson or Sales Representative and reframe seasoned business experience to ask for business acumen instead.

When trying to be more inclusive in your job postings and employment brand, you can also consider including a statement about your commitment to diversity and inclusion to show all people they are welcome and ensuring you make it easy for all qualified people to apply.

Similarly, ensure your selection methods aren’t unfairly screening out qualified candidates due to preconceived notions about the knowledge required to do the work. For example, I often run into the question of whether local experience or local education is required. Although local experience and knowledge is valuable and certainly can reduce training time, I have rarely seen situations where they are truly required such that extra education and/or experience cannot make up for the lack of local intel. An intentional review of job descriptions where you question the mandatory job requirements and contemplate alternatives may be all that is required to revise your expectations.

Even with an economic slowdown, the war for skilled people hasn’t gone away. It pays to ensure you are not discouraging or refusing great people over preconceived notions which don’t stand the test of validity.

What have you done to ensure your workplace hires a diverse crowd?