Janine Perri
Janine Perri
September 08, 2019
5 minute read

5 Subtle Ways You’re Harming Your Diversity Recruiting Efforts At the Entry Level

Even with the best of intentions, companies that don’t pay attention to the subtleties of their hiring process can harm their ability to recruit candidates from all backgrounds.

5 Subtle Ways You’re Harming Your Diversity Recruiting Efforts At the Entry Level

In today’s employment landscape, many companies have gotten serious about reducing bias and creating an inclusive hiring process that allows candidates from all backgrounds to succeed. 

University recruiting teams play a large role in these efforts. In fact, these teams have the unique opportunity to curate a diverse slate of candidates for entry-level roles, allowing companies to build a balanced cohort of first-time professionals who can grow into leaders at the company over time. 

However, recruiting at the entry-level comes with systemic barriers – from financial to professional – that employers may not even realize they’re contributing to during the application process. Even with the best of intentions, companies that don’t pay attention to the subtleties of their hiring process can harm their ability to recruit candidates of different genders, abilities, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds.


As you ramp up your recruiting efforts on campus this hiring season, keep these subtle cues in mind to ensure you aren’t limiting your pool of candidates.

Crafting job descriptions or marketing materials that are not inclusive

The language and images used in marketing materials and job descriptions signal to a job candidate the type of people who you want to work for your company. For example, research shows that using male-coded language in your job description can perpetuate gender stereotypes and harm gender equality in the job market. Likewise, consider how your marketing materials reflects who holds certain roles. Does a career page highlighting your technical roles only include pictures of men? Do group shots only include people of similar ages, gender, ability, and ethnicity? For candidates who don’t see themselves in your marketing materials, this can signal they’re unwelcome. Writing inclusive job descriptions, making sure your applications are accessible, and diversifying the individuals featured in your recruitment materials can demonstrate to prospective candidates that your company is inclusive to all candidates.

Narrowing your campus recruiting to only a few schools

If you are only visiting a select set of schools such as the Ivy League and using a set method of recruiting, you are likely to end up with a homogenous set of candidates in your pipeline. Diversify the schools you visit and switch up your recruitment methods. Offer onsite events or mentorship opportunities for historically underrepresented groups or those with limited economic means. Recruit at public universities, where the lower cost of tuition allows students from all economic backgrounds to get a great education. For diversity-specific initiatives in fields where certain candidates are traditionally underrepresented, you could also consider recruiting more heavily at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Women’s Colleges, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, and Tribal Colleges and Universities

Overvaluing a candidate’s professional “polish” 

Soft skills are important, but overvaluing certain unspoken customs can potentially exclude candidates who haven’t had substantial experience in the professional world. Focusing too much on a candidate’s level of polish in the interview stage may exclude certain candidates and isn’t always necessary, especially for non-client facing roles or for roles that include professional training to get candidates up to speed. “Polish” can refer to things like a candidate having the ‘perfect’ interview outfit – maybe the candidate can’t afford a new outfit and has to thrift shop or borrow – or nerves due to inexperience interviewing. Although these customs do not need to be ignored completely, companies should also not reject a candidate outright if they had other strengths and might not be as polished professionally. A little time and mentorship can go a long way toward developing a more professional persona. 

To counteract the effects of focusing too much on these small details, create a scorecard at the beginning of your recruitment process to outline the skills that are most important for the role and compare candidates against this rubric during the interview. Using a scorecard can also help to reduce unconscious bias and always bring the focus back to each candidate’s skills and experience.

Not covering the cost of travel and accommodations for an interview

Many college students don’t have easy access to financial assistance from parents or other family members. If your interview process requires that candidates pay their own way to travel, it becomes that much harder for students from various socioeconomic backgrounds to land your job. While some candidates may speak up and say they can’t cover their own travel, it could cause unnecessary stress for the entry-level candidates who can’t afford to interview. Many may simply choose to decline the interview instead, dramatically reducing the number of eligible candidates for your position.

You could choose to offer a travel stipend to candidates for in-person interviews, conduct video interviews, or interview candidates on campus to ensure all qualified candidates have a fair chance at an interview without the worry of a financial burden. 

Not offering relocation assistance

Similar to interview costs, if you are located in an expensive city and don’t have any kind of relocation help, prospective employees may decide to look elsewhere. It’s expensive to move and get set up in a new city and not every entry-level candidate has savings or easy access to financial assistance that can cover the costs. In addition, 69% of college students from the Class of 2018 took out student loans and have incurred an average debt of $29,800. Paying off student loans will be a high priority for students, especially those from disadvantaged economic backgrounds, so going into more debt to move to a new city is a scenario that most candidates will want to avoid. For your relocation package, you might offer a one-time payment to cover startup costs, or provide coverage for transportation, temporary housing, and moving expenses until the employee is settled into a new place.

Being mindful of every step of your hiring process can increase the chances of attracting top candidates and diversifying your workforce. If you are looking to improve your diversity recruitment efforts, take a look at what these 10 companies are doing or explore our top 5 recommendations to recruit diverse entry-level talent. You can also download the Ripplematch Diversity in the Workplace report for more resources.

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