Relating to a candidate’s unique personal experience is a challenge that many employers face.
For candidates of Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) descent, the job search can be an especially daunting experience.
Whilst most candidates focus on the role, the individuals who have faced discrimination in their personal lives worry that they’ll face challenges in their professional ones.
They hope their CV’s won’t be tossed aside because of their names.
They wonder if hiring managers will recognize how they can contribute to the organization, rather than where they come from or how they look.
If your goal is to create a more diverse workforce by reaching out to the BAME community, there’s one piece of the puzzle you may be overlooking: the language in your job descriptions.
That’s right. The language you use subtly sends candidates underlying messages about your corporate culture, employees, and outlook on your workforce. This “between the lines” messaging can undermine months of Diversity Hiring efforts in a matter of seconds.
As a controversy surrounding the BBC earlier this year shows, communicating your message requires some nuance.
To make your job descriptions more inclusive and appealing to BAME candidates, here are 3 key steps to follow.
STEP #1: IDENTIFY YOUR COMPANY VALUES.
What are the values that connect your employees? How would you describe their mindset when faced with difficult or challenging situations?
Without knowing your organization and employees personally, it can be difficult for BAME candidates to understand how they’ll fit in with the culture. They haven’t met your employees personally, which is why when it comes to culture, the wording you use to describe your workforce is paramount.
Whilst reading your company’s description of the role you have available, words such as “rock star” and “elite” carry a connotation that could come across as intimidating and exclusionary.
If your candidate gets the sense that they will be over-looked as an employee due to the company’s subjective view of a “rock star” candidate, in spite of their talent and contributions, then they will be less likely to apply in the first place.
A truly diverse workforce embraces the unique outlooks, skills, and experience of candidates who use their perspectives to work toward a shared goal. Communicating your organization’s values in the job description will allow you to connect with BAME candidates who share those values without risking that your wording sends an exclusionary message.
For example, instead of writing “We are looking for a rock star Software Engineer,” which is vague and subjective, describe what values that individual holds. If you want someone who keeps ahead of trends and possesses vast subject matter knowledge, then a line such as “We are looking for a Software Engineer who believes that knowledge is key to innovation within the IT industry.”
STEP #2: ARTICULATE YOUR “WHY.”
Why do you want to attract BAME candidates? Are you looking to gain a different perspective? Do you wish to advocate for the community? What’s your motivation as an organization?
Share your motivation and history with candidates in the introductory section of the job description. This will help the candidate relate to your organization and identify how their unique experience is an asset to the role and your company.
The more you can help candidates connect their experience and outlook with your company’s needs and goals, the stronger of a rapport you’ll be able to establish through the job description they read.
This motivation can also be presented in the form of a mission statement. What is the mission of your hiring efforts for this role? How does that mission relate to the experience of a BAME candidate?
STEP #3: REPLACE CLICHÉS TO CENTER IN ON QUALITIES.
Read your current job descriptions. If you see commonly used clichés such as “outside of the box” and “fast-paced environment” littering your recruitment messaging, then it may be time for a rewrite to clean things up. You may write them with good intentions, but what you mean and how candidates hear them in context of your company and the role could be miles apart.
Break through this doublespeak. What are you really trying to find out? Focus on input. What are the qualities that lead to the outcome you’re looking for?
If you want to attract employees who think “outside of the box,” for example, the quality you’re actually looking for is creativity. Creativity is the quality that people who do think outside of the box possess, and it is an identity marker that doesn’t depend on subjective context.
Candidates who fit the bill do not need to understand the inner workings of your organization in order to recognize if they are creative or have a creative approach to their work. This is a quality that self-aware, high performing professionals know about themselves.
Similarly, instead of “fast-paced environment,” what you’re really looking for is someone with a sense of urgency with good time management skills.
Ask top performing employees: What qualities do you feel have contributed to your success in this role? What qualities do you admire about the people you work with?
Then listen. Just listen and record their answers.
What you’ll see, is a pattern emerge across top performing employees and the employees who have earned the most respect from their colleagues, direct reports, and managers. You can then use this insight to write better targeted job descriptions that accurately reflects your organization’s formula for success when it comes to your people.
ENCOURAGE EMPLOYEE FEEDBACK
Get current BAME employees involved during the recruitment process. Ask for their feedback. How does the job description read to them? What do they notice? Having experienced your organization first-hand, does your message accurately reflect the reality of working there? Out of these conversations, you may find that your biggest attractant as an employer is something you hadn’t thought of before.