We know that an increasing number of companies set themselves ambitious diversity and inclusion goals. There is one thing in this context that makes little sense, though. We’re talking about age bias. Age discrimination is by far the most common form of discrimination in recruitment.
When people of a higher age lose their jobs, it’s often extremely difficult for them to find a new one. Many companies are hesitant when it comes to hiring older people. They’re afraid that older employees are less flexible or more expensive than their younger colleagues. That’s a shame because older people actually have a lot to offer. Just think of the experience and skills they’ve gathered throughout the years.
So, why do companies say that they want a more diverse workforce but fail to hire older people?
Age bias in recruitment
In companies that are reluctant to hire older employees for the reasons we mentioned above, there is an age bias during the recruitment process. This age bias can be reflected in a number of ways:
- Companies ask for people of a certain age in their job descriptions. It’s not allowed by law, but it does happen.
- Companies specifically ask for students. This is a little more subtle than asking for candidates of a certain age, but it’s still obvious that companies are looking for younger employees.
- The job description contains certain words or requirements. This is a more indirect form of age bias, and it’s not always done on purpose. Words such as young, energetic, party atmosphere or flexible will appeal less to older candidates, and chances are it will discourage them from applying.
- Companies ask for a number of years of experience. This is a much less obvious form of age bias. But there is no way to deny that when companies ask for candidates with 3 to 8 years of experience, for example, they are excluding older employees with a lot more experience (and younger ones with less experience).
The problem of age bias (and the solution)
Age bias and ambitious diversity and inclusion goals just don’t go well together. For a company to reach its D&I goals, the recruitment process needs to be free of biases. Age bias is one of them, and it’s time for companies to see age discrimination as a problem.
The solution to age bias in the recruitment process begins with writing job descriptions that are free of age discrimination. That means you shouldn’t mention that you’re looking for people of a certain age, and you should refrain from using words that discourage older candidates from applying. Also, don’t mention a specific minimum or maximum number of years of experience.
The Textmetrics platform helps you do all that. When there is age bias in your job description, our platform will offer suggestions to make sure that any form of discrimination is prevented. Your job descriptions will be free of age bias and can help you reach your D&I goals.
You might wonder how the term “branding” fits in with recruitment. Isn’t that a marketing thing? Well, yes, it is. Employer branding in recruitment, however, has to do with creating a strong employer brand to reach and retain as many potential candidates as possible. Has your company set itself ambitious diversity and inclusion goals? Then employer branding is even more important.
Employer branding in recruitment refers to the way your company is perceived by employees and candidates who’ve made it through your hiring process. The trick is to promote this employer brand externally, so potential future candidates know why working at your organization is so interesting.
Why employer branding in recruitment is important
Positive employer branding helps you attract and retain a diverse group of employees. The ones who increase diversity in your company and help you be successful. In addition, research into employer branding in recruitment shows that:
- 84% of job seekers say that the reputation, the employer brand, of a company plays an important role in their decision to apply for a job;
- 9 out of 10 candidates say they would apply for a job if the employer brand is actively maintained;
- 50% of candidates say that they wouldn’t apply for a job when the company has a bad reputation;
- 55% of job seekers don’t apply after reading negative reviews online;
- 76% of candidates actively search for why a company is an attractive place to work.
Establishing a good employer brand
From the above, it’s obvious why employer branding in recruitment is so important. But how do you get started? It’s not just about communicating how great your company is. You have to be a great company to work for, too. To find out if you already are, or if there’s still some work to do, you can ask your current employees. They can help you formulate a distinctive message to attract potential candidates. What is it that makes your company unique and worth working for? Why are you the best employee? Those are among the questions potential candidates want to see answered positively when they consider applying for one of your jobs.
Consistency in your employer brand
Employer branding should be the central part of your hiring strategy. The Textmetrics platform can help you make sure that your employer brand is reflected in all your written communication. Our platform analyzes what recruiters are writing and our augmented assistant provides them with real-time suggestions whenever they deviate too far from your brand identity. This allows you to ensure that all written content is consistent with your employer brand and delivers maximum impact on the potential candidates you want to reach.
We hear all about it on the news. When an older person loses their job, it’s harder for them to find something new. That’s difficult to reconcile with the increasing number of companies that strive for inclusion and diversity in the workforce. These good intentions don’t seem to match reality. That’s a shame because being older doesn’t mean people don’t have much to offer. On the contrary, older people are more experienced, can provide a different perspective, have better interpersonal skills, and are often natural mentors. So, what needs to change for older people to have a better chance of finding a new job?
The age bias
When companies rarely hire older people, chances are that they have an age bias during the recruitment process. This happens long before the selection of candidates or the interview. It’s the job descriptions that bear the first evidence of this practice. Here, the age bias is reflected in the words recruiters use in their job descriptions. We’re not saying that this is done on purpose. Chances are that recruiters don’t realize that they are biased. They might unintentionally use words and sentences that discourage older people from applying without even knowing it.
Words that are a sign of age bias
Age bias in job descriptions doesn’t lead to equality in the workforce, which is something companies strive for when they want to reach their goals for inclusion and diversity. Recruiters might not mean to do this, but research shows that they often use words in their job descriptions that are a sign of age bias. Think of words like young, energetic, flexible, creative and fun-loving. Or more specifically, they might mention the physical abilities required of an applicant, such as lifting a specific amount of weight, or the use of certain computer programs, something that’s harder for some older people. Or perhaps they describe the fun, party atmosphere within the company, or mention that it’s a company where the average age of staff is below thirty. These are all words and phrases that disincentive older people from applying.
Use words that encourage older people to apply
Just as there are words that keep older people from applying, there are also words that actually encourage older people to apply. Think of words like committed, experienced, leadership skills, mentorship abilities and a strong work ethic. The augmented writing platform we offer at Textmetrics can help you with this. We use AI algorithms to help you write job descriptions using words that appeal to people of all ages, which is an important step toward more equality in your organization by persuading older people to apply as well.
Ideally, companies want to hire employees who can manage the company’s results. To get this talent in-house, recruiters need to come up with a new plan of action.
While recruiting new talent, organizations must pay attention to two things: skills and diversity.
When employees leave an organization, they take with them their skills and acquired company knowledge. This is not a new problem, and it always leaves a gap in procedures that keep an organization running and growing.
Forming insights about skill shortages provides a look into the future. It’s all about ‘what do we need’ and ‘which skills are we currently missing’.
Consider what behaviors or capabilities will bring the company success. Honing in on these essential concepts helps companies reach beyond traditional profiles and propels opportunity to the next level.
Create opportunities that are attractive to talent you want to recruit going forward not to talent that filled those roles in the past.
Reach New Talent Pools
You should consider taking a new path. Dare to go for candidates who may not seem the best choice at first. Don’t just look at diplomas or experience in the same industry.
Hiring managers and recruiters must start having different conversation when reviewing candidates. Recruiters need to help managers see that nontraditional experience may provide the same level and quality of skills as another candidate, and that can help the organization be successful.
Another way to attract diverse talent is by removing from resumes or applications any demographic indicators (e.g., a name that points clearly at a gender or ethnicity). Instead, focus solely on the candidates’ skills and work experience. Combine that with a direct focus on the job description and conversations develop around the outcomes of employing that particular person, not the inputs.
Be divers and inclusive
Broadening how skills are sought also opens up the chance to increase the diversity and types of talent brought into the organization. In addition to skills disappearing when employees leave, diversity can as well, which can throw recruitment another curveball that may have them looking only at 100% equal replacement based only on one factor.
Diversity goals and attributes change all the time, and looking at particular quota areas to fill will not ensure that you are recruiting the right talent for an organization. The important part is demonstrating inclusion and willingness to accommodate. Perhaps this means mentioning technology that helps people with limitations, or it might just mean having flexible work hours or schedules or a deliberate emphasis on work-life balance.
Diverse candidates also want to see an organization’s stance on particular issues. On your website and your job postings, include a reference or link to diversity and inclusion policies and practices; this makes it clear to the candidates that you’re not just saying the right things to draw in more individuals, you’re committing to it as an organization.
Traditionally, job descriptions are focused on needs (e.g., we need someone with this degree, certification, or industry experience). All of those “needs” can deter someone qualified from the application process because they don’t specifically see that they meet those basic requirements. Try to focus on what success should look like. What a candidate needs to achieve in the role to make it successful.
Are you ready to implement AI in your recruitment department? Textmetrics is here to help! Get in touch to find out more.