Open recruitment is about maximising opportunities individuals from diverse backgrounds have to apply for a role at your organisation, as well as making sure the interview and hiring process is designed to utilise individuals’ different backgrounds and opinions. It is also known as being an ‘inclusive’ recruiter.

Being an inclusive employer is more than just considering the background candidates, it is understanding that as organisations, we can unintentionally create barriers at every stage of the recruitment process. For instance, the wording of a job description may make some individuals less likely to apply for a role.

Below, we have broken down different stages of a typical recruitment process, highlighting where employers might put up obstacles, and potential ways to remove them.

Inclusive job language

The language used in job descriptions, particularly the opening blurb, can have a huge impact on whether a candidate is interested in a role. A well written job description, which speaks to diverse applicants while being specific about the skillsets required.

If candidates assume the role is more suited for the opposite gender, or individuals with certain interests or views, you might be missing out on qualified candidates. The best way to avoid this common mistake is to avoid words that are typically understood to be coded for a male or female audience, even if they merely hint at gendered stereotypes.

Below are some common variations of gender-coded words.

  • Female Coded Language
    Agree, empath, sensitive, affectionate, feel, support, collaborate, honest, trust, commit, interpersonal, understand, compassion, nurture, and share.
  • Male Coded Language
    Aggressive, confident fearless, ambitious, decisive, head-strong, assertive, defend, independent, battle, dominant, outspoken, challenge, driven and superior.

Going one step further, it is also important to avoid mentioning race or national origin as this can deter non-native speakers from applying. Terms like “strong English-language skills” is subjective, while terms like “Cultural Fit” can lead candidates to make sweeping generalisations based on the sector, leading to suitable candidates may not applying because of how they interpret the terminology, not how you meant the language chosen.

How to be an open recruiter

  • Attracting a variety of candidates
    When recruiting, we tend to go straight to what has worked for us in the past. This often means we promote each vacancies the same way.  As a result, you will find your pool of applicants is made up of individuals with similar educational backgrounds, skills backgrounds, level of experience, and more. Which makes sense, individuals in certain roles tend to use the similar tools when applying for jobs.

    While it’s great to already know avenues to connect with the individuals you want to apply to your vacancies, it also means you might be restricting your candidate pool. Expand your candidate search across different job boards and use social media to try and attract talent. By promoting across different platforms, you maximise your chances of candidates seeing your position.
  • Recognise bias in hiring
    Actions we take in a day are often decisions we make immediately, without much thought to them. Our background, interests and wider views all play a role feed in our decision-making process.

    This is significant in recruitment, as our perception of a candidate is not solely based on their application, and instead can be based on our biases.

    A study published in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology found 52% of interviewers make their decision about a candidate in between five and fifteen minutes of the interview.
  • Using tools to support your recruitment
    It can be incredibly difficult for humans to eliminate bias, particularly if it is subconscious. This is where having the right supportive tools, including AI recruitment tools, can come into play.

    An AI recruitment tool can look at your candidates objectively to help determine which individual is right for your open position. However, AI is not automatically free from bias. In fact, one major e-commerce company had to scrap their AI recruitment tool because it was showing bias a particular group.

    Whichever AI recruitment tool you opt for, we recommend using features that allows for anonymised applications. An anonymous (or blind) CV is when identifying information is concealed from a CV, resume or cover letter to conceal the backgrounds of job applications. By removing irrelevant information, you’re eliminating the likelihood of unconscious biases affecting hiring decisions. Instead, candidates will be assessed on what matters, which is their ability to get the job done. If you want to create a fairer recruitment process, this is an essential step.
  • Involve multiple individuals in the recruitment process
    Having different individuals involved in the hiring process is another great way to mitigate against biases in recruitment – as you gather different insight and opinions on candidates. Including those beyond HR decision makers, such as staff members at different levels, and even clients where appropriate, makes hiring a group decision.

    A diverse work team can also encourage more diversity. It far more likely that a group decision will select candidates that vary. Whereas a single reviewer may select candidates who are all like one another. In addition, when candidates go through the interview process and engage with different people, it can be encouraging for them to come work at your organization.

    Its not just about reviewing applications and taking part in interviews though, Ask for opinions and feedback from as many different individuals as possible about your hiring process. Particularly connect with newly hired team members to further refine your process.
  • Assessing candidates on a set competency and skills-based markers
    The only way to give candidates an equal chance is to be consistent in your screening process. Using a scoring system, where you rank candidates and compile a result is a fair way to measure candidates against one another.

    A series of questions are designed to test one or more skills or competencies that is important to the role. The interviewer has a list of set questions, each focusing on a specific skill, and answers are compared against pre-determined criteria and marked accordingly.

    When compiling skills/competencies questions, it is important you ask every candidate the same set of questions. You don’t have to ask questions in the same order, but it is important every question is raised. Having a scoring system can also be time efficient.
  • Provide feedback to unsuccessful candidates
    Being unsuccessful for a role, particularly if you have taken part in numerous interviews, can be disheartening. Unfortunately, many organisations don’t provide any feedback to candidates who ultimately didn’t secure a role.

    Where tests or scoring were applied, you can share the results with the candidate. Where possible, interview notes can also be shared.

    Giving information about your hiring decisions helps candidates recognise potential gaps in their knowledge, understand how a response to an interview question can be better.

An open hiring process is just the first step. If you only focus on changes to hiring, but the culture of the employer perspective employees might be joining. It’s important to also work on how you retain employees.