How to draw the attention of diverse professionals for your open positions

I take at least one call most weeks from an executive tasked with engaging more diverse candidates into the hiring process. During these calls, we often talk about:

  • The specific roles they are looking to fill and the related responsibilities.
  • Why it is important for their business to increase thought-diversity.
  • Their job descriptions.

It is rare today to see a job description shorter than two-pages. They often include many bullet points and terms that may discourage premier candidates from applying.

Research shows that genders assess job descriptions differently and often decide to apply or not apply for different reasons. Did you know that women apply for a job when they are 100 percent qualified based on the requirements within job description? Men apply when they meet 60 percent of the qualifications. This is based on many studies and recently written about in the Harvard Business Review by Tara Sophia Mohr on Aug. 25, 2014: Why Women Don’t Apply for Jobs Unless They’re 100 Percent Qualified.

You can likely see the correlation: The longer the job description and related requirements, the less likely women will apply. As the same HBR article states, the most common reason for not applying was, “I didn’t think they would hire me since I didn’t meet the qualifications, and I didn’t want to waste my time and energy.”

So how do you get more diverse candidate to apply to your open positions?

  • Be more selective on what you put into your requirement section. Assess if the requirement is 100 percent mandatory or is it a nice to have. Can the candidates learn a specific requirement on the job or do they need to enter the position with that level of experience to be effective?
  • Shorten your job description to less than one page. If you want more diverse candidates, shortening the job description definitely will help encourage more qualified candidates to apply.
  • Create a comparison section. Create a mental correlation for interested candidates such as if you have been successful in these types of positions or with this level of responsibility, you will likely be a good fit for this position. This attracts people with similar skill sets that may not be from the same industry and size of company where the title may not align.
  • Choose your words carefully. The words you use can attract or detract diverse talent. For example, National Center for Women & Information Technology provides two checklists for reducing unconscious bias in job descriptions and writing better job descriptions. Both suggest eliminating extreme terms such as “best in class,” “unparalleled,” “truly innovative” or “highly respected.” Highly-qualified talent and especially women are unlikely to self-identify this way.

Your website, press, job descriptions and employees are often how people find, relate and connect to employment opportunities. Be sure you are creating easy and relatable on-ramps for qualified and diverse candidates to join your team.

JJ DiGeronimo is president of Purposeful Woman and Tech Savvy Women, author of “The Working Woman’s GPS” and “Before You Say YES.” For more information, visit