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Inclusion tips for the first steps of the candidate journey

Candidate experience starts long before the first interview or resume review or the moment the candidate clicks on the big ‘apply now’ button. It begins the first time the candidate becomes aware of your organization and has the thought, ‘could I work there?’. That moment could be triggered by a job description they stumble across on a job board or it could be a news article or networking event or that catchy commercial they still remember from childhood.

From that moment, their journey to potentially becoming an employee begins and so does their opinion of your organization and ultimately if they develop the desire to join it.

From a DEI perspective, this opinion includes a sense of welcoming, belonging, inclusion… or not. And without that sense of belonging and inclusion, how likely do you think the candidate will want to join your organization?

So how can you ensure that the first steps of the candidate journey, before they hit the apply button or send in their resume or have the first interview, are as inclusive as possible?

Here are a few tips:

Go beyond diversity statements to showcase DEI action

Diversity statements are plentiful.

Unfortunately, many linger in the words giving candidates the impression that they are nothing more than empty promises, and result in alienating talent rather than including them.

Rather than telling candidates that you are diverse, equitable, and inclusive, show them. Give examples of how you are driving diversity, cultivating an inclusive culture, and promoting equitable practices.

Showing examples of programs will not only validate the diversity statement, it will also show candidates how they will be included and celebrated once they arrive.

This applies to content, images, videos, social media posts, press releases, etc.

Don’t call candidates or jobs diverse

Calling candidates or jobs “diverse” has two problems.

First, “diverse” is not synonymous with minority or a specific demographic. To use it in that way devalues its intent. Diversity means having representation across many demographics, backgrounds, differences.

Second, calling a candidate or a position diverse is the same as tokenizing the job or individual. How many do you think want to be the “diverse candidate” whose value is to increase the organization’s diversity numbers. How many will want a special position created so they can use their demographics to get hired?

People want to be hired for their value, potential, and capabilities… not their demographics.

If you don’t have the answer – ask instead

Unfortunately, we don’t always have all the answers to candidate questions, including when it comes to diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging.

Candidates will see through empty or disingenuous responses, or if they don’t, will become disappointed when they discover it once they are hired. It will leave them with a sense that the organization doesn’t actually care.

If you don’t have an answer (which is common), rather than muddle through, ask instead.

“That is a great question. We are working on a program for that now. What ideas do you have? What would you like to see in a program like that?”

By asking, you give the candidate an honest answer while engaging them to be part of the solution. It also conveys the message that their voice matters and will be included in the DEI journey.

Prepare an FAQ to answer all those questions your candidates won’t ask, but really need to know

There is information that is critically important to some candidates. But, the act of asking for the information during the hiring process forces them to disclose something they don’t need or want to disclose and could put them at a perceived or real disadvantage.

For example, consider the conclusions an employer will jump to if a candidate asks about maternity or paternity policies, the availability of nursing rooms or prayer rooms, or medical leave policies.

To avoid putting candidates in a position where they either must disclose something they don’t want to (and don’t have to) or go with critical questions unanswered, draft an FAQ and share it. Ideally, share it in an easily accessible location such as on a careers page, so that candidates can see it at any time.

Not only will the FAQ ensure that important questions get answered without singling out any candidate or forcing them to disclose information, it also advertises that you’ve thought through these questions with them in mind and empowers candidates to determine if the organization is a good fit for them.

Bonus tip: this works for benefits too.

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