Building a diverse workforce has become a staple for many companies that realise the benefits it can bring to their bottom line. Hence, organisations now place a heavy emphasis on attracting candidates to reach their workforce diversity goals and improving the overall talent acquisition efforts.

However, many still struggle with translating their plans into action – with 45% of those surveyed by Robert Walters admitting their recruitment strategies aren’t efficient enough.

In this blog post, we’ll look at two recruitment methods used by organisations and see how they can impact your workforce diversity goals as we move into 2022 and onwards.

  1. Resumé screening – considered by 52% of the employers as the 1st or 2nd most important part of the hiring process
  2. Skill assessments – favoured by 33% of the Murray Resources respondents

1. Resumé Screening

Resumé screening has been with us for decades now, so it’s no surprise that it’s the most common recruitment method. It’s familiar and used to work pretty well in the past. But is it a valid tool for reaching diversity goals in 2022?

Workforce Diversity Goals & Resumés

Step one of reaching your workforce diversity goals is to attract diverse candidates to your brand. Step two is to recruit them successfully. If your hiring efforts fall short, perhaps it’s time to realise that relying heavily on resumés is the main contributing factor.

That’s because early on, one’s resumé is the sole determinant of whether a candidate moves forward in the hiring process or not. And how can you increase your diverse hires if the final candidates to choose from are seemingly all the same?

To avoid that problem, your recruitment should help you find applicants from various backgrounds representing many shades of diversity. And resumé screening seems to be an obstacle to that.

Bias Is in the Eye of the Résumé-Holder

Perhaps the reason for you not having a diverse pool of candidates is that resumés are prone to bias. In the recruitment context, bias occurs when you form an opinion about an applicant based on impressions, a lack of information, or pre-existing convictions.

Bias in resumé screening can take many forms. It can be related to one’s education, background, ethnicity, age, or even looks. People always tend to gravitate towards those similar to us because it makes cooperation easier.

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But when trying to reach your workforce diversity goals, it’s an obstacle. 72% of the surveyed recruiters believe a human should be responsible for reviewing all resumés, so taking out that prone to bias human factor is difficult.

The result? Discrimination on many levels.

For instance, a study commissioned by the French government in 2016 found that companies were less likely to invite candidates with African-sounding names to interviews after receiving their CVs. And that’s regardless of their competencies being close to those of candidates with non-African names.

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Similarly, bias can also pertain to age. In this poll, half of the people over 40 confessed they experienced age discrimination during the application process. 

Although it’s most common to hear about bias in the context of minorities, it can lead to discrimination against anyone else – even the groups that are seen as privileged.

This 2017 poll conducted in America shows some insightful data. 55% of the Caucasian people stated they too face discrimination, and 19% experienced it when applying for a job.

Even when it comes to gender discrimination, the data paints a problematic picture. While we usually hear about women having difficulty getting past the resumé screening stage, men also experience bias. The research by the University of North Carolina found that men were more likely to be overlooked by employers for white-collar jobs, an area in which women didn’t have the same problem.

Blinding resumés to increase diversity?

A staggering 96% of recruiters realise that unconscious bias has a negative impact on their hiring efforts. And while it’s virtually impossible to separate bias from our human nature, companies try to improve their strategy by tweaking the method – blinding resumés.

Blinding resumés is nothing else than removing personal information (name, age, etc) that could lead to bias. In theory, it should help. In practice? According to a Swedish study, anonymous resumés didn’t increase the rate of ethnic minorities being hired.

If screening resumés by humans reveals our inherent bias, could technology do it better?

ATS-aided screening

Many companies try to remove the human factor from the process by moving towards ATS-based screening. In fact, 95% of the Fortune 500 companies use them in their recruitment process.

Using software that sorts through applications undoubtedly makes the job faster, but its contribution to your diversity efforts can be questionable. Nearly nine out of ten company leaders surveyed by Harvard admitted that ATS they use prevents them from seeing good applicants.

The reason? That much automation makes it difficult for some applicants to stand out, narrowing your diverse talent pool. ATS-aided resumé screening turned the whole process of CV writing into complicated science. And a biased one, at that.

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The software ranks candidates according to pre-determined criteria such as university degrees, deleting anyone who doesn’t fall into this category from the pool. Let alone that education and even work experience aren’t good at predicting future job performance.

By limiting your definition of talent to a list of keywords, you risk missing out on people who have the skills you need. A diverse workforce is a group of people from different backgrounds, including different experiences. A team full of people with a university degree in their resumé is hardly diverse.

Yet again, the data seems to prove the point – it’s not the way you handle resumés that undermines your workforce diversity goals (or hiring goals in general). It’s the resumés in the first place that are the problem. They shrink your candidate pool and limit it to those who fit your criteria that often aren’t diversity flexible. You’re missing out on skilled people, but perhaps their talent didn’t show on paper.

2. Skill Assessments – a Valuable Alternative?

Recruiters continue to report challenges finding qualified candidates. But perhaps the methods they are so accustomed to are the problem, not a lack of talented people.

Companies that want to remain relevant and win the fight for talent need to think creatively and accept alternative recruitment methods. One of them, case-based screening, helps you find the most suitable candidates. It also enables you to remove bias from recruitment and thus aid your workforce diversity goals.

Do candidates want conventional recruitment?

We’ve previously discussed the importance of candidate experience and its impact on your employer branding. If you wish to have more diverse candidates in your pool, you first need to attract them. An excellent way to do so is to stand out from other employers and give candidates the recruitment they want.

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Candidates overall seem to be dissatisfied with many aspects of conventional recruitment methods (i.e. resumés & interviews).

☑️ Communication: Almost 40% of candidates state that responsiveness is essential in the hiring process. Sadly, 39% of them don’t get status updates throughout the process.

☑️ Feedback: 91% of candidates want feedback, yet 41% report never receiving any.

☑️ Frustrating application process: 65% of the job-seekers state that their most recent job application process was frustrating (too long, confusing, not optimal).

☑️ Interview scheduling: 43% of candidates globally admit to removing themselves from a recruitment process because it took too long to schedule an interview.

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Clearly, there’s a disconnect between what candidates want from the recruitment process and what companies give them. Although an alternative method, work samples were mentioned by 50.2% of respondents as what they want from the perfect recruitment process.

Not only is it desired by your potential talents. It also successfully eliminates the candidate frustrations mentioned above and helps you amass a wider talent pool by strengthening your brand image.

What does case-based screening offer to your candidates?

The stages of the process are transparent

✅ All applicants always receive updates on where the process is at a given moment.

✅ Every applicant receives meaningful feedback based on their case solution.

Focus on skills without bias in sight

40% of C-level executives of large companies say they can’t find enough qualified and diverse talent. But does talent always show on a resumé? If you’re really looking for talent, use methods that allow candidates to prove their skills.

Case-based screening is based on work samples solved anonymously. How does that work?

When you’re trying to fill in a vacancy, a case is tailored to test the skills needed for that position within your organisation specifically. Do you need a designer for your marketing team? Ask them to prepare an advertisement. Perhaps a copywriter? Let them write a piece based on your company’s needs.

Your candidates will then upload their case solution without providing any data about themselves apart from their e-mail address. The judges appointed to evaluate the solutions won’t have access to personal details, so candidates will be judged fairly and without bias. The only thing you consider is one’s fit based on the skills they present.

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This method helps you remove any bias that could emerge unconsciously or consciously during resumé screening. Does it reflect on your workforce diversity goals? Yes, and positively at that.

So far, the companies that used the Innoflow case-based screening report a 62.5% increase in diversity. They say that their final ten is more diverse than when using other recruitment methods, and they now find talents they’d have otherwise overlooked.

Are there any downsides to your workforce diversity goals?

We tend to think that the talent pool needs to be vast to reach workforce diversity goals. In a nutshell – the more candidates, the better. However, that approach won’t help much if the candidates you get are either seemingly all the same (because your list of requirements targets a very narrow group) or not qualified enough.

With case-based screening, you most likely won’t receive hundreds of applications. But the ones you get will come from people motivated enough to spend time on solving the case instead of copy-pasting a resumé.

So how can you get more diverse candidates if your pool won’t be that large? Because you open yourself up to people who would have otherwise clicked away after seeing they don’t fit your requirements.

Let’s look at an example. If you’re looking for a programmer with a respective degree and five years of experience, you may miss out on:

  • a recent graduate without experience
  • a self-taught programmer without a degree
  • a woman who may feel like her resumé will get lost in a sea of male applicants and fear rejection based on gender bias (women are also less likely to apply unless they meet 100% of requirements)

With anonymous work samples, all those candidates will feel encouraged to prove their skills. Thus, your applicant pool will have people diverse in terms of gender, age, experience, etc.

Reaching Workforce Diversity Goals Depends on Your Methods

It’s not easy to change your recruitment methods or to even accept they should change. But there’s just something not quite right with hiring if it doesn’t yield the results you’re hoping for.

The methods we’re accustomed to were sufficient for the goals in the past. Nowadays, however, they no longer are. Resisting change may cause your business to be left behind – without diversity and still struggling to find competent employees.

Whether your goal is to simply diversify your teams or to increase the quality of candidates you get, trying alternative recruitment methods may be necessary. Innoflow is here to assist you in the process and step up your hiring.

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