How to Attract a Diverse Applicant Pool

by Shelagh Dillon

    A diverse workforce enables more creative thinking because it brings ideas and experiences from different cultures and backgrounds. This can provide a competitive edge over other businesses that are mostly made up of people who think and behave in the same way. To improve your chances of attracting a diverse pool of job applicants, follow a few strategies and techniques.

    A diverse workforce is one that reflects the community in which it is based. Ideally, there should be a good spread of diversity throughout the organization’s hierarchy, with all groups represented in the higher levels as well as the lower levels. Having a well designed diversity policy in place that includes diversity training for managers and staff can help you achieve a better understanding of the principles and benefits of diversity.

    To gauge your company's workforce, have your managers conduct a survey of their respective departments to get a count of different groups of people. Compare the results with local demographics. By comparing your workforce with the community at large, you should be able to identify groups that are underrepresented and overrepresented. There are a range of resources and organizations which provide demographic information, including the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    Advertise job vacancies over as wide an area as possible to attract as many candidates as possible. Where there are clear gaps in the workforce, consider advertising positions on specific journals or websites. For example, if you want to attract more disabled people, put job ads in publications and websites geared toward the disabled community. If you want to attract more older workers, put ads in publications geared toward people 50 and above. Just keep in mind that the job listing needs to be visible by the whole community, and not just the people who are underrepresented.

    Holding job fairs in your community can provide good public relations for your business and put you on the radar of a good cross-section of potential employment candidates. Make sure you provide information about your equality and diversity policy and demonstrate how you welcome people of all ages, races, ethnic backgrounds, religions and genders. Bring a diverse mix of employees to represent your company at the job fair so they can share their insights with potential applicants.

    Regularly audit the workforce to make sure your business is meeting its diversity goals and living up to its diversity policies. Because communities change over time and employees come and go, you need to continually reassess where your workforce is underrepresented and overrepresented. Attracting a diverse applicant pool is only half the battle. You must also work to retain your diverse workforce. Stay up-to-date with the latest diversity training methods and get feedback from your employees to determine areas that need improvement.

    About the Author

    Shelagh Dillon has extensive experience gained from more than 34 years in business, human resources, training and personal development. Beginning her professional writing career in 2007 for her own website and blog, she has since been published in the "Edinburgh Evening News" and written extensively for various websites.

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