This post was updated in November 2017 with new information.
We're hearing more and more from employers about a common struggle in their recruiting efforts. Even in the San Francisco Bay Area, which is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the country, employers say their biggest challenge is hiring diverse talent.
This isn’t surprising. The stats around gender diversity in tech alone are uncomfortably familiar. The US Census reports that the presence of women on engineering teams has not exceeded 13% in the last two decades, and only 7.6% of the 26,000 developers that responded to our recent survey were female.
This issue in whole is far too complex to tackle in just a blog post, but there are a few things that employers can be doing with their recruitment advertising and job listings to attract more diverse candidates.
Include content that promotes diversity in your job listings and employer branding strategy. If you already have a diverse staff, show it! Make sure the pictures of your employees and office life show that your company is a great place to work for people from all walks of life.
This can be as simple as adding a sentence like the one we’ve added to our listings here at Stack: “We strongly believe that diversity of experience contributes to a broader collective perspective that will consistently lead to a better company and better products. We are working hard to increase the diversity of our team wherever we can and we actively encourage everyone to consider becoming a part of it.”
Research from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) shows that women are less likely to apply to a job listing that uses words commonly associated with men, like “assertive”, “independent”, and “aggressive.” Conversely, if the job ad used words like “dedicated”, “responsible”, “conscientious” and “sociable” they were much more likely to think the job was a good fit.
An internal study at Hewlett Packard suggests that men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them. This means you should only include the requirements that truly matter. Most of the time it’s arbitrary to require a certain level of skills or years of experience. Emphasize the work itself and the employee value proposition, and refrain from using a laundry list of requirements. We’ve found that simplifying your job requirements will also increase the overall application rate of your job ad.
You can find qualified candidates by recruiting purely from referrals from your internal network, but people tend to associate with and hire those who resemble them. You should also get your employer brand and hiring message outside of your personal network and in front of a larger audience of candidates that are not just like you. One way to do this is to work to build relationships with relevant cultural groups and organizations.
In a market where 87% of developers have a job, this also means targeting passive candidates. To get your hiring message in front of a diverse pool of technical candidates, look where they like to hang out (like Stack Overflow)!