Blind Hiring: How to Implement Inclusive Hiring Strategies

October 20, 2017

Hiring is top priority for most businesses – and that’s definitely true for OpenView’s portfolio companies. But, have you ever thought about what your job descriptions say about your company or your culture? Or how the way you write job descriptions might discourage qualified candidates from even applying?

Well, according to an internal report from HP, men apply for a job when they meet 60% of the qualifications listed, while women will typically only apply if they meet 100% of the requirements laid out in a job description. HP attributes this phenomenon to the fact that women tend to be ‘rule followers’ – in other words, women will only apply to jobs for which they are certain they have the requisite experience.

But as a Talent Manager, I’ve seen plenty of beyond-qualified women who are in fact perfect for jobs despite not having all of the “required” skills or experience.

Even the words you use in a job description can discourage certain segments of the population from applying. Words like ‘leader’, ‘competitive’ and ‘dominant’ can be found in job descriptions for roles in male-dominated industries, while words like ‘responsible’, ‘dedicated’ and ‘sociable’ are found in job descriptions for roles in female-dominated industries. In 2011, The American Psychological Association shed light on how these masculine and feminine stereotypes can increase gender inequality in applicant pools and therefore roles and industries.

To close the gender gap, we all must be cognizant of how we write and position job descriptions to ensure we’re not only attracting qualified talent, but also promoting diversity within the ranks of our companies. Buffer, a social media management platform, took this advice to heart when they removed the word ‘hacker’ from their job descriptions after realizing that women made up only 2 percent of applicants when engineering roles included this word in the descriptions. Buffer realized the word ‘hacker,’ which many do not identify with, was discouraging a large portion of the potential talent pool from even applying. With some careful tweaking, the word ‘hacker’ was changed to ‘developer.’

Excluding younger and male-associated benefits like “beer kegs,” ping pong” and  “video games” should also feature prominently in your effort to make job descriptions as inclusive as possible for people of all genders, races and ages.

Another tactic many companies are turning to is “blind hiring,” a technique that hides demographic-related information about a candidate from a recruiter or a hiring manager that can lead to bias.

GapJumpers, which provides blind hiring services for large enterprise companies, shows just how successful this technique can be. According to their data, conventional resume screening meant that only a fifth of applicants who weren’t white, male, able-bodied people from elite schools made it to first-round interviews. Blind hiring brought that number up to 60 percent.

In addition to GapJumpers, companies like Talent Sonar, a recruiting tool that helps companies implement best hiring practices, and Textio, which analyses data to find meaningful language patterns that cause some job posts to succeed where others fail, can be extremely helpful for companies focused on implementing unbiased recruiting.

Talent can be hard to find. Why make it more difficult by failing to use inclusive hiring practices?