As humans, we have developed the ability to make decisions based on thousands of informational cues in a matter of seconds. This is extremely helpful in detecting danger, but can cloud our judgment when it comes to things like hiring. Unconscious biases tend to make job searches more difficult for certain candidates, which can cause you to miss out on top talent and can even put your company at risk for lawsuits.
The following actions can help you to minimize bias in your hiring process.
Define Qualifications and Desired Characteristics
Defining qualifications such as years of experience and education level, as well as desired characteristics like adaptability and amicability can help hiring managers and recruiters to focus on those points over other features. This can help managers to overcome subconscious biases that may cause them to like or dislike a candidate and make hiring decisions based on this fickle analysis. Having points to focus on helps managers make more informed decisions, potentially improving hiring.
Use Software for Resume Filtering
Just the name of a candidate can have an effect on how well they do in the job market. Candidates with Caucasian sounding names tend to fare better than candidates whose names identify them as potentially being of other ethnicities. Other, less identifiable issues such as word usage and even font size and type can also subtly influence a manager to pass over a candidate during resume review.
Using applicant tracking system (ATS) software can help to mitigate this bias. The software will filter resumes for your team, so resumes will not be discarded or moved forward based only on biases. While it’s still important to address other issues that may lead to hiring biases, ATS software can improve fairness in the resume filtering process.
Make Diversity a Goal
Placing diversity front and center in hiring can go a long way in mitigating bias. It’s still important to make sure that candidates are qualified on all fronts, but making diversity a goal can help to round out the workplace and make potential applicants that aren’t typically advantaged feel welcome. When diversity is specifically addressed, there is less of a chance that a candidate will be passed over just because of race or ethnicity.
Strive for Neutral Job Descriptions and Requirements
Wording in job descriptions and job requirements can exclude certain individuals. Using words like “competitive” and “driven” can make women feel excluded, while words like “nurturing” may make men feel excluded. Dictating appearance codes like tattoos and hairstyles may also exclude certain individuals unnecessarily.
While it’s not unreasonable to define character traits that would help in a job or to dictate dress codes that make sense for a job, think critically when developing these parameters. While you may not personally like tattoos or facial piercings, will it actually affect the person’s ability to do a job?
Use Realistic Job Previews to Assess Skills
Realistic job previews may help to eliminate subconscious biases formed based on a person’s appearance. Just because an applicant is a small and slender woman, it doesn’t necessarily exclude her from being able to lift a required amount of weight or do jobs that are considered “tough.” Realistic job previews can provide insight into how well a person will be able to perform the job.