Tips for Attracting a Diverse Applicant Pool

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  1. List as much relevant information about the position and work environment, particularly:
    1. Salary
    2. Advancement potential
    3. Benefits (such as health, support for leave, childcare, and relocation reimbursement).
  2. Ensure that your institution’s online application system (assuming it has one) meets accessibility standards and offer an alternative way of submitting an application for those who cannot use the online system.
  3. Language matters in job ads, so consider what the language of your job ad conveys. It is important to spend time reviewing and updating the language with a view to who will feel encouraged to apply based on the language:
    1. Avoid gendered language, including pronouns.
    2. Consider what language choices might imply about your work environment and who might be dissuaded from applying. For examples, check out Harvard Business School’s blog post entitled Simple Ways To Take Gender Bias Out Of Your Jobs.
    3. Avoid unnecessary jargon, particularly if the position is an intro level job with training provided.
    4. Carefully consider how you describe tech skills.
    5. Avoid language most associated with start-up job ads, such as awesome, cool, etc., which can be off-putting to some prospective applicants).
    6. If you have institution-specific slang or abbreviations, consider whether this also may be off-putting to outside applicants.
  4. Ask whether you are listing a reasonable number of requirements for a single position.
  5. Always carefully consider what is a requirement and what is a preferred qualification. Evidence suggests that many applicants, particularly those who would bring greater diversity to applicant pools, will not apply unless they have every single “required” skill. This could mean missing out on applicants who would be perfect for the position if too many skills are listed as required.
  6. Following from the last point, if certain skills are truly required for consideration, make that very clear. For example, some state schools may only be able to hire candidates with all of the required skills and other schools may absolutely require a library degree for any job with a librarian title. This is not the case at all institutions and clarity will save everyone time and effort.
  7. Remove unnecessary language from the ad, particularly if it is outdated and/or “boilerplate” language. An example is physical requirements such as the ability to lift a specific amount of weight. This language excludes people with some types of disabilities and might run afoul of legal requirements as discriminatory.
  8. Remove mentions of work culture and related adjectives, which are often used in ways that are unintentionally exclusionary or even intentionally discriminatory.
  9. Think about where there could be flexibility and highlight it. For example:
    1. Does the person really need to stand or could an accommodation be made?
    2. Would remote work be possible?
    3. If a driver’s license is required, could the person obtain it after accepting the position within a certain amount of time?
  10. Minimize formal education requirements and specify if a person can complete the degree after accepting or even starting the position.
  11. Detail any support systems in place for new hires. For example:
    1. Does your institution have a mentoring program?
    2. Does your institution provide tuition reimbursement or other educational support?
    3. Does your institution fund professional development? If so, does this include travel?
  12. Rather than simply asking candidates to write diversity, equity and inclusion statements, consider writing one as an institution and including it or a link to it on job ads.
  13. Specify whether remote interviews (such as phone or video conferences) are available and whether reimbursement is available for any travel required for the interview process.
  14. Consider where you are posting job openings.
    1. Who would have access to this resource?
    2. What level of experience is assumed of the reader of this job board?
    3. How well known locally, nationally, and internationally is this job board?
    4. Who might be missing out on your job openings because of where you post?
    5. What new places might you consider for posting your jobs (see Places to Post Job Ads for suggestions)?