No matter how much you want to develop a diverse workforce, it is never going to happen if you are accidentally discouraging a diverse set of candidates from even applying. Find out how to avoid making that mistake ever again with this tailored guide. 

Inclusivity has to start from within, as we discuss in our guides on instigating, improving and developing equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace. However, once that is in place, you need real and proven methods of attracting and securing the right candidates that will diversify your workforce, helping to bring fresh perspectives into the company. 

This starts with how you are seen by those completely unrelated to the company and how they comprehend working for you. The first point of contact for many of these potential candidates are your job adverts. We have developed this guide for employers to identify their mistakes in their application process. 

Writing job ads – What inclusive employers need to be aware of

Make it widely understandable

Accessibility is essential to an inclusive application process. When you write an advert, you need to consider how others are going to perceive it. Remember, it is not just a method for you to attract appropriate candidates but a way of candidates deciding if they want to work for you.  

As such, if the language used is only understandable by people deeply engaged in a particular industry or community, those outside of it will feel excluded. This is a common issue, particularly with things like the job title.  

To attract different kinds of candidates you have to recognise that you are going to have to appeal to people not already in your sphere.  

Eliminate gendered language

Various studies demonstrate a strong correlation between the language used in a job application and the influence on which gender is more likely to apply to it. This is the result of certain gender stereotypes that, even if the candidate doesn’t believe in them, the candidate will assume the employer does.  

For example, if you use gendered terms like manpower, or state that the candidates need to be particularly assertive and competitive, the applicant is going to assume that the environment is heavily masculine.  

Flexibility

One often cited figure is that, on average, a woman is only going to apply to a job if they meet all of the requirements, whereas a man usually applies when they meet more than half. This demonstrates how inflexibility is indirectly discriminatory. Although it is rarely the intention of the employer to reduce the number of women applicants, their words can have that effect.  

Our tip for this is to include a set of requirements but clearly state that you want the candidates to still apply regardless if they can provide an explanation for why another skill, experience or characteristic makes up for them not meeting that criteria.  

As such, although you don’t have to remove any requirements or application criteria, you can still find a way to encourage the inclusion of diverse candidates. This will also help you to see examples of desirable attributes or experience that you hadn’t previously considered.  

Highlight the company culture 

An applicant is around 3 times more likely to apply to a role if they identify with the company culture, which can be highlighted in the message and tone of what’s written in the application – make sure you come across as approachable, inclusive and diverse. 

Review your review process

Think about whether you can find ways to prevent names or location being seen by those who make the final decision. Things like unconscious bias are massively prevalent in today’s society. Simply ensuring multiple people review the decision before it is made will help to root out any unseen biases.