To improve diversity, every organisation needs a fair selection process, in which every applicant has an equal chance to do their best. However, if you want to take a more strategic approach to diversity and inclusion, you’ll need to start way before the selection stage, with talent planning and attraction.
Most employers recruit tactically rather than strategically. They react to situations or opportunities that arise, rather than planning their talent needs based on their business goals and their competitive environment.
Four strategies to ensure an inclusive talent attraction
Talent planning should be an ongoing process, not a one-off event. Here are four talent planning and talent management tips that will help you to attract (and hold onto) a diverse range of applicants:
1. Know what you’re looking for
A thorough job analysis is the critical starting point for evidence-based hiring and data-driven decision making. If you can clearly define the roles within your organisation and specify not only the tasks of each job but the exact competencies, abilities and job-related behaviours that are critical for success, you’ll gain a ‘blueprint’ of requirements that you can recruit against.
If the criteria you use to assess candidates are not specifically related to job performance, then unconscious bias can creep into your selection process.
‘Data’ will be available from your existing employees. Identifying the skills and attributes that differentiate ‘top performers’ from ‘average performers’ in each role can help you to create a ‘Success Profile’ of an ideal employee. Importantly, you should consider what ‘good’ looks like in the role - and also what ‘bad’ looks like too, so you know the difference.
2. Broaden your attraction strategy to include different groups
A fundamental challenge for today’s employers is to attract a broad range of talented people, regardless of their ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, class, culture, past personal circumstances, age or religion. If you only attract white males into your applicant pool, you’ll never achieve diversity.
Every employer needs to reach out to different audiences and encourage individuals with different experiences and different backgrounds to apply.
To do this, you need to understand what makes your company different and why people should want to work for you. Your employer brand is your reputation and the distinctive strengths that your organisation projects to the outside world. It encompasses an ‘employee value proposition’, which is the value that employees will gain from being part of your organisation.
Building a compelling employee brand - that consistently aligns with the competencies and characteristics that are important in your organisation - will help you to attract the right individuals.
It’s important to consistently communicate your organisation’s strengths and key brand messages on your careers site and in your advertisements, social media and promotions.
The data identified in your job analysis may help you to choose appropriate promotional platforms. Don’t restrict your hiring to certain universities and ensure your job advertisements and promotions don’t contain images or descriptions that might alienate potential applicant groups.
Remember, your current employees can also be a source of referrals for other great candidates.
3. Conduct pre-application screening with a Realistic Job Preview
You can help potential applicants to make an informed choice about whether your organisation is right for them by introducing Realistic Job Previews, so they can self-assess their suitability for a job before they apply.
Delivered via a smartphone, tablet or desktop, a Realistic Job Preview provides an interactive and engaging ‘assessment experience’ with specific examples and virtual simulations of typical on-the-job challenges.
The candidate is asked what they would do in each situation and they’re given instant feedback on their suitability. If they feel unsuited to the role or your organisation, they won’t apply. That saves them - and you - time and effort.
Those who apply will do so with realistic expectations of what the role will involve, as they’re given a better understanding of what a ‘day’ on the job would be like. Remember, the process of employee engagement starts with the very first contact that job candidates have with you.
A Realistic Job Preview provides an early opportunity to give a good impression of your employer brand. It also helps to fill your applicant pool with candidates who are well-matched to your requirements and your values.
Some employers are now enhancing their candidate experience by offering reward points or loyalty discounts to applicants who take their Realistic Job Preview. The reward could be as simple as a free coffee or a discount off a future purchase - and/or it could involve offering career advice to help the individual find a suitable role.
Studies show that candidates who have a better understanding of the job before they apply tend to stay longer. Feedback data from candidates, once they’ve been appointed, will help you to fine-tune your Realistic Job Previews to ensure they closely match the reality of the workplace.
4. Ensure your hiring process reflects your employer brand
It is no longer enough to simply attract applicants; you have to actively engage them - and create a positive impression - to ensure they don’t drop out of your selection process. Aim to provide an extraordinary candidate experience that communicates your values and fits your employer brand.
Ensure your assessments are short, visually-appealing, interactive, objective and indicative of the everyday situations that individuals will experience in your workplace.
When rejecting candidates, give reasons that are based purely on the job requirements. Remember, applicants will form opinions about your organisation based on how they are treated in your selection process, so give them feedback and always aim to create a good impression.
A diverse workforce will provide a greater variety of viewpoints that can help your organisation to better understand and meet the needs of diverse customers. Talent planning and attraction are key aspects of a more strategic approach to recruitment.
About the author
Perry Timms is the Founder & Chief Energy Officer of PTHR, with 30+ yrs experience in people, learning, technology, organisation change & transformation. His personal mission is to see more people flourish through their work, and help shift organizations as a force for societal good (not just profit machines). PTHR's mission is defined as "Better Business for a Better World". In October 2017, his first book, Transformational HR - was published by Kogan Page and the Energized Workplace published in August 2020. He was an extremely proud new entrant to the list of HR Most Influential Thinkers for 2017 and again in 2018 + 2019 (in the top 10 both years).