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13 Ways to Attract a More Diverse Candidate Base

Scott Gerber
Scott Gerber

Hiring is not easy. Whether you're trying to or not, it's easy to pigeonhole your job listing and attract only a very specific type of candidate.

But if you want a wider, more diverse candidate base to chose from, there are a few key ways to improve your posting.

13 founders from YEC share their best tips on how to open up the playing field for more candidates. 

1. What You Are NOT Looking For

Job titles often trick people into applying for jobs they have no business applying for. Being clear on what you are NOT looking for and backing that with a window into your employee experience will help bring not only diverse candidates, but also focus you on the skill sets you actually want. – Aj Thomas, Infuse Entrepreneurship

2. Visual Representations of Diversity

If you already have a diverse team -- promote it. Link your job postings to your website jobs/careers page and show a photo of your team. You can also include team bios on your careers page. Diversity generally attracts more diversity. Showing that you've invested in diversity by building a team that reflects this ethos will be attractive to candidates from different backgrounds. – Farzana Nasser, Gallop Labs

Related Article: Hiring the Hero: 9 Traits to Look For in Successful Candidates

3. An Inclusive Description

Make sure your description is inclusive. I see many listings that read as if the hiring manager assumes all applicants will be male. Beyond that, make sure you cast a wide net. Don’t just go to your buddies from college or your usual networks for candidates. Reach out to the larger ecosystem including accelerators, co-working spaces, schools and affinity groups that attract a diverse demographic. – David Ehrenberg, Early Growth Financial Services

4. A Question About Hobbies

Ask applicants to include at least one favorite hobby or charitable activity in their response. This serves several purposes: 1) It helps you identify personalities to attract more diverse types of candidates, 2) It reveals attention to detail (or a lack thereof if they don't include a hobby) and 3) It shows candidates that your company cares about who they are. – Jesse Lear, V.I.P. Waste Services, LLC

5. A Showcase of Your Team

Too often, job descriptions focus solely on the role and required skills. But those are table stakes. Candidates want to see who they'll be working with, not just what they'll be doing. Companies are made up of people, so showcase yours through quotes ("why we love it here") and experiences (military veterans, languages spoken, past work, hobbies, etc.) to impress a diverse candidate group. – Yair Riemer, CareerArc

Related Article: Master the Art of Hiring with These 5 Tips

6. Information About Your Company Culture

Including a paragraph about the brand and your personality can go a long way towards attracting individuals from different walks of life. I spend a lot of time documenting why we work so hard, what we hope to accomplish and why it's important to us. I've also started adding insight into the personality of the company and what's important to us as a group. It might help you as well. – Andrew Thomas, SkyBell Video Doorbell

7. Carefully Chosen Words

I was lucky enough to alpha test a product called Textio a few weeks ago that does textual analysis of job postings. I was surprised to find my descriptions contained biases that I was completely unaware of. It called out words with a masculine or feminine slant, and pointed out buzzwords that would alienate certain candidates. I now think much more carefully about the connotation of key words. – Martina Welke, Zealyst

8. A Diverse Client Base

People love working with brands they use and companies that inspire them. If your client base fits a particular mold, you will only be able to recruit talent from a limited candidate pool. The more diverse your client roster is, the more likely you will inbound job applicants with unique backgrounds who would be thrilled to work with you (and your customers). – Danny Wong, Grapevine

9. A Performance-Based Slant

A job description describes what a person needs to do, while a people description says what qualifications a person needs to have. Ask yourself how often have you hired a candidate that didn't have all of the qualifications outlined in your job listing yet was a top performer then consider the candidates that did yet performed poorly. Certifications are great, but performance is everything. – Alex Riley, MeritHall

Related Infographic: 6 Small Business Perks That Will Recruit Big Talent

10. Lifestyle Compensation

Different people value different things. Go beyond traditional compensation and focus on lifestyle compensation (for example, benefits that make candidates feel comfortable working there). Mention how the work helps others, what your family policy is, the makeup of your team or what you're doing to make it moreinclusive. The goal is to help candidates imagine being happy working at your company. – Tekin Tatar, BeFunky Inc

11. A Focus on Creativity

Instead of focusing on experience, look for people who are creative and love to learn. These people will adapt and adjust to changing circumstances and will be able/willing to contribute beyond the minutiae of their job. Welcome creative thinkers to apply, and you'll find yourself with employees that are interesting, fun and bring growth to the company. – Marcela DeVivo, Gryffin Media

12. Different Perspectives

Years ago one of my co-founders (our CMO) chastised me for writing customer communications like a white male. My wife pointed out that even after years of trying to erase how this colored what I wrote, I am still a white male. I now cultivate a panel of people with diverse backgrounds to write job descriptions, screen candidates and take part in the interview process. – Jason Henrichs, Startup Institute

13. What You Stand For

We had a company advisor chastise us about only communicating the perks of the role. He felt we weren't going to attract the right type of people who actually believed in what we stood for. As a small company, our list of perks couldn't compete in general with the larger corporations in our area. We now focus on finding people who believe in our mission and vision and want to help shape it. – BJ Cook, Digital Operative Inc

Image Credit: Monkeybusinessimages / Getty Images
Scott Gerber
Scott Gerber Member
Scott Gerber is the founder of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses. Gerber is also a serial entrepreneur, regular TV commentator and author of the book Never Get a “Real” Job.