3 Techniques for Inclusive Recruitment
One of my greatest joys running Spark and Co. is the incredible team we’ve got. Seeing them care and embrace our work with the same passion I do has been my proudest achievement.
During our last recruitment phase, our top job had over 400 applicants.
With no HR team, a very small recruitment budget, and a fast moving process, how did we successfully recruit? And how did we ensure the process was inclusive?
In this post, I’m sharing the three top things we did to run an inclusive and successful recruitment process.
Honest, simple, clear job descriptions
When it comes to job descriptions, write them as you would want to read them - ask yourself what you’d really want to know, then make sure it’s in there.
At Spark and Co. we always include:
The salary: this should be a no brainer, because job ads without the salary perpetuate pay inequality. We don't ask candidates to invest time into applying for a role that might not meet their salary requirements. Exposure, autonomy, flexibility are all great, but none of these things pay the bills! Follow Show the Salary for more on this.
Hire for the job you have, not the one you think candidates want: Putting a positive spin on job specs helps up the number of applications, but it rarely leads to job satisfaction. We're honest about what the job role actually involves day to day, including the unsexy bits - like the admin load, how much budget there, what stage your organisation is at.
Nail down the day to day details: We’re clear from the get go that all our roles are remote, flexible, and that future growth is dependent on funding. We also talk through what this means at the first conversation we have - this is the stuff that impacts someone's day to day life, and especially important under current circumstances.
Widen your recruitment channels
There’s no point having the perfect job description if the candidates you want aren’t applying to it. Please (and I mean it), don’t talk to me about pipelines.
‘Diverse’ candidates are out there; if they’re not applying to your roles, it’s because you’re not reaching them. Stop posting your job adverts in the same old place. In the words of Einstein “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”.
There are loads of diversity jobs boards and groups out there - do your research, think about where your ads are going, and build that pipeline.
Flip those power dynamics
Once you’ve got applications interested and applying to the role, how do you enable them to bring their whole self to the process?
Many ‘inclusive’ recruitment practices fail because they do not address the fundamental power dynamics that reinforce a status quo that isn’t working for a lot of people.
If your recruitment process requires candidates to jump through your hoops, if it doesn’t accommodate different needs, if it doesn’t create spaces where people can be themselves - how inclusive is it really?
Flip those power dynamics:
Provide options for how people can demonstrate their skills and experiences: we encourage candidates to send us their skills and experiences in a format that works for them - whether it’s CV, a LinkedIn profile, a website, a cover letter, a video etc.
Really, whatever allows them to express their skills and passion for the role in the way that they feel works for them. We put clear criteria in place internally for what we’re looking for, which enables us to screen different application formats based on consistent criteria.
Open up communication channels: Zoom calls have become the norm for a lot of things, but different people have different preferences.
We let people suggest how they would prefer speaking with us in those early stages (e.g. phone call, Zoom call, in written format) and try to accommodate this whenever possible. For many roles, a call may not actually be the best format for understanding if someone is the right fit.
Encourage dialogue: we frame conversations with potential candidates as just that - conversations. We don’t use the word ‘interview’ during the process. Getting out of the ‘interview’ mindset has really helped - the goal is always to create space for candidates and encourage dialogue. It's in both your best interests that it's a two way process.
Check yourself: continually and consciously: alongside your insight and experience, to every interview, you also bring your pre existing perceptions and biases, whether they be conscious or unconscious. Learn how to be aware and account for these - there’s a whole host of tools and resources out there to support you (check out The Other Box as an example).
At the end of the day, our recruitment process has been about living our values; being community focused, collaborative and intersectional. We’ve breathed these values into every step, whenever and wherever possible. You can read my previous post on leading for inclusion here.
Spark and Co. is a community platform providing information, support and services for racialised people and communities during Covid-19. In June 2020, we raised £120k from the National Lottery Community Foundation.