By Teresa Boughey
There’s no one size fits all as the skills required for one specific industry won’t be the same for another, which is why every organisation needs to tailor their recruitment strategy. Despite the differences in requirements and process, all organisations need to place inclusivity at the heart of their recruitment to ensure the selection process is equitable for all. Not only does these benefit candidates, but it means businesses can make the most of all the talent available. There are simple strategies that you can implement which will improve the inclusivity of your recruitment, whilst streamlining current processes.
Before embarking on revolutionising your recruitment strategy, it’s important to take a step back and consider the processes you are currently using. Don’t just consider how you conduct your selection process but make sure you’re also taking a good look at elements such as how you attract candidates, as well as how you manage the post-interview and onboarding process. By taking stock of where you are now, you will be able to pinpoint exactly where your recruitment processes are lacking or may be outdated.
It is important to remember that when applying, candidates will do their research on your organisation too. Whether they take the leap and apply for your job could hinge on the impression they get of your company. This could be from your website, marketing material, or their own customer experience. It’s therefore imperative to showcase yourselves and the inclusivity of your organisation as much as possible! Information like your gender pay statistics, if your organisation qualifies, is readily available on the government portal and is likely to be something which prospective employees look at as part of their research. It’s therefore important to publish an accompanying narrative to explain the gap and set out what action you are taking to address any imbalance. By taking this proactive approach it will give prospective candidates faith that you are trying to eliminate any gender pay gaps.
How you advertise the job has a big impact on the candidates that subsequently apply. Review job descriptions to make sure that they are not precluding groups of candidates from applying for that role, or for any role within your organisation. Similarly, many organisations choose to outsource the process to a recruitment agency so make sure that their recruitment practices are adhering to and enhancing your inclusivity policies to allow you to make the most of a diverse talent pool.
Some things that need to be continually revised when advertising a job role include:
- The job description – Instead of always using the same job description year on year, make sure you revise it each time you advertise to ensure it is up to date and accurately reflects what is required – especially as the skills needed in the workplace are always changing.
- The vocabulary used – There are certain words and phrases that have connotations that would deter groups from applying. For example, use of the word ‘driven’ appears to just be synonymous with ‘motivated’, however, it could imply that the candidate needs to be of a certain age and ability and could also have masculine undertones.
- The images included – The images you choose to use should clearly demonstrate the diversity of your team, as this may encourage those in underrepresented groups to apply as it is clear you value everyone’s voice.
Assessment centres and selection days are a prominent way for organisations to gain a ‘true’ representation of the skills and personalities of the applicants and are a common feature of graduate schemes. Whilst they appear to be an engaging alternative to the traditional one-on-one interview, they may actually be a deterrent if they require levels of physical activity that would not be necessary for the role on a day-to-day basis. Assessment may not show if the candidate is suitable for the job in question. If the task you are asking candidates to undertake is not something they would be required to regularly perform as part of the role, it may be more beneficial to find a different way to assess the candidate’s suitability. This could include things such as holding open days or ‘taster days’ as part of the initial attraction process, offering a ‘work trail’ rather than a formal interview. It may also be necessary to adapt tests or selection exercises i.e. granting some additional time for completion, or simply questioning whether time tests are needed at all.
It is very common for line managers to be the ones conducting interviews, and it is even more common for these managers to be relying on the recruitment experience they have gained throughout their career alongside the limited training they have received, as opposed to a comprehensive interview training specific program. Without comprehensive training, it’s possible they are more susceptible to unconscious biases or may have picked up bad habits along the way. Instead, anyone who has a prominent role in the recruitment process should be skilled up ineffective, inclusive recruitment practices and should fully understand the important role they play, and the impact unconscious biases can have. Those who conduct interviews may be the first person a prospective candidate meets face to face so they should embody the brand and values you wish to be known for. Interview panels should be comprised of a variety of voices and groups so that a balanced decision can be made – this could be a mix of genders, ages, ethnicities, and others who may not be at a senior level.
Whilst an informal interview can put the candidate at ease and encourage a conversation to flow, it can also mean negative biases or practices can manifest. Whilst it is important to make a candidate feel relaxed, the interview should also remain structured and focused on the competency of the candidate, so the process is fair to all. Everyone should be asked the same questions and their answers are judged against the same grading scheme so they can be directly compared. This way, the most suitable candidate for a specific role in question can be found.
It’s imperative at every stage of the employee journey that you consider what adjustments you can make to ensure that all employees, whatever their background, age, or gender or whether they have an apparent disability or not, see, feel and experience your organisation as being committed to a culture which provides the supported needed at every stage to enable its people to do their job to the best of their ability. Focusing on the inclusivity of your recruitment strategy is integral to creating a positive brand identity for your business and will ensure that no candidate is deterred from applying to your organisation, meaning you have access to the whole talent pool. Celebrating the uniqueness of everyone in your workforce will enable you to become the envy of your competitors.