Inclusive Hiring: Five Tips to Attract More Diverse Applicants for Your Open Role

By Kristen Harris

Our firm helps companies hire great talent for their internal marketing and creative teams. After the multiple health and social crises of 2020, it’s no surprise that many of our clients are looking for guidance on how they can build more diverse teams. 

I recently got an excellent question from a colleague: they wanted to know how to write a job description that would attract or even “bring to the front” more diverse candidates. This company has prioritized building a workforce that better reflects the community where they work and do business. They’ve had uncomfortable conversations and committed to change. Now they want to know how to communicate that commitment to attract a more diverse pool of applicants. 

From an HR standpoint, it’s important to lean heavily towards including more people instead of excluding anyone. I fully acknowledge that it might seem counterintuitive to target more people instead of less, especially when you want to add more diversity to your team. However, if you can attract and qualify a more diverse pool of candidates to present to the hiring manager, it’s much more likely that the final hire will bring diversity to your team. 

In other words, if you want to hire a more diverse team, you have to attract a more diverse pool of candidates. You only hire from the group of candidates considered for the role, so that group needs to be as diverse as possible.  

We recommend that you start by making the job description more inclusive and distributing it more widely:

  1. Write inclusive job descriptions. Review all job descriptions and scrub them of any language geared towards or exclusive of certain candidates. A lot of words, duties, and requirements can be exclusionary. The more you neutralize those descriptions, the less likely it is that people will filter themselves out and not apply. There are some good articles on this you can find with a quick Google search, like these Glassdoor tips

  2. Prioritize job requirements. Take a hard look at the requirements listed in the job description. Is a certain degree truly required? Or X years of experience? Could the job be done in another way that opens it up to more candidates? We like to break job requirements up into “required” vs. “nice to have.” When reviewing applicants, compare only against the “required” list first; “nice to have” items might put a candidate higher on your list but shouldn’t be used to eliminate candidates.

  3. Expand where your job opening is shared. Reach a wider variety of people by posting, publicizing, and sharing the role in a wider variety of places. Post or share where more diverse candidates are likely to be; we often look for groups that are an intersection of the career path and a diverse population. If you recruit through colleges or universities, reach out to HBCUs with solid programs in the relevant career field.

  4. Invite more people to apply. Don’t just rely on candidates finding your job; reach outside your typical circle and invite people to apply. Ask your contacts who participate in different groups or career functions for referrals. Identify people you think might be a fit and reach out to connect with them; they may not have seen your posting and might be interested or could have a good referral for you.

  5. Limit internal referrals. We know, we know…everyone believes their best new hires come as referrals from current employees. Consider this–if your workforce lacks diversity, then their referrals likely will too. Encourage employees to share the job but have their referrals follow the same application process as all other candidates (through your job portal or wherever you receive resumes). Present all resumes to the hiring manager in the same way, without referencing referrals, so everyone is considered equally based on qualifications.

Speaking of presenting resumes to hiring managers, watch for the next part of our inclusive hiring series for tips on building a more inclusive interview and evaluation process. 

We believe a diverse team is a stronger, more impactful, more successful team, and we’ve always been advocates for creative people, no matter their shape, size, ethnicity, gender, or background. We welcome the opportunity to help clients make their hiring practices more inclusive. If you want to chat about hiring needs for your digital, marketing, or creative team, contact us here.