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Recruiting and Maintaining a Diverse Workforce

UW Oshkosh is committed to building an inclusive and supportive institutional environment and is actively trying to increase equity, diversity, and inclusion across every level of the University. One of the most daunting challenges is designing and implementing effective recruitment strategies for attracting and engaging with prospective well-qualified employees across a wide spectrum of diversity.

Inclusive Position Descriptions

The position description provides a blueprint for the candidate to imagine their role with a company, encouraging them to, or discouraging them from, applying to a position. By leveraging technology and psychology to redesign position descriptions, you can attract a more diverse pool of candidates.

It is important to keep it simple and focused. Too many required qualifications will unnecessarily restrict the pool of candidates. A well-designed position description will carefully differentiate between “required” and “preferred” qualifications. Another consideration is to keep the application process as simple as possible for candidates. Requiring too many things in the initial application phase can deter qualified candidates from applying. You can always ask later on for additional materials.

AVOID EXTREME MODIFIERS

Avoid phrases like “best of the best” “off the charts”, “world-class” or “unparalleled”. Research shows that these kinds of terms tend to prevent women as well as men from applying. Anyone who has been raised/socialized to downplay their expertise, or not “toot their own horn”, will be less likely to categorize themselves in these ways, even when they are very highly qualified. Suggested alternatives would be: “truly innovative”, “a genuine curiosity”, “highly respected”, “excellent, thoughtful, or perceptive [insert type of skills]”, “dedicated or committed to creative problem solving and getting things done”.

AVOID CREATING REQUIREMENTS THAT CAN BE MET BY ALTERNATIVE MEANS

Specific degrees, must have knowledge of organization, etc. 

Avoid requiring specific types of degrees, unless that is a job specific requirement, as in the case of nurses. Try to create broad inclusion of possibilities in terms of degree and years of experience or types of experience. Avoid indications that the candidate must have knowledge of the University of Wisconsin specifically, unless that really is the only applicable knowledge-base. Be careful about requiring someone to use their own vehicle, when they may be able to arrange for alternative transportation. And above all else, be sure the skills and knowledge required for the job are tied back to the duties indicated in the job description itself.

AVOID GENDER-SPECIFIC PRONOUNS (HE OR SHE), & IMPROVE BALANCE OF “MASCULINE/FEMININE” ASSOCIATED LANGUAGE

Subtle, often overlooked use of language can dissuade people with certain identities from applying. 

The goal is to achieve a balance of language. It may seem obvious, but this kind of mistake is more common than you think. Rephrase to avoid the need for specific pronouns.  When describing tasks of the ideal candidate , use gender neutral pronouns like  “they/them” or “you”. Use a tool like the free Gender Decoder to identify problem spots in your word choices. Examples: “Analyze” and “determine” are typically associated with male traits, while “collaborate” and “support” are considered female. It’s also important to remember that in calling these “masculine” and “feminine” words, we are talking about historical associations, rather than saying that these things actually are masculine or feminine. In reality, we know that both men and women can be good at managing and analyzing or understanding and nurturing.

 

Tips for Successfully Recruiting Diverse Candidates

Key Steps:

  • Cast a wide net when searching for prospective employees
  • Keep in mind that networking is the most effective way to recruit and hire diverse candidates
  • Actively network among communities representing the full spectrum of diversity
  • Develop partnerships with professional organizations and other sources where diverse candidate pools exist
  • Post jobs with web sites and publications targeted at underrepresented communities

THINK CREATIVELY

Get the advertisement out in as many places as you can. Don’t forget about listservs, schools, professional networks etc! You can personally recruit people into the pool by asking friends if they know of qualified candidates, then call those people and encourage them to apply.

You can encourage a broad, diverse applicant pool by recruiting all positions both internally and externally.

INCLUDE TARGETED RECRUITMENT SOURCES

Because different applicant groups often rely on different recruitment sources, the most effective recruitment plans are the ones that include sources targeted at the particular pool of candidates being sought. It is important to cast a wider net and use diverse recruiting sources in addition to those that you already use to attract traditional candidates.

For example, minority job fairs and media that are targeted at particular racial or ethnic groups are practical ways to convey the message that your department is actively seeking minority candidates. There are also an infinite number of affinity groups for minority candidates in various fields that hold conferences where your department could gain visibility among a targeted pool of candidates (e.g., National Society of Black Engineers, National Society of Hispanic MBAs, National Minority Technology Council). There are also many recruitment sources that specifically target veterans and people with disabilities.

Screening, Unconscious Bias, & More

A vast body of research shows that the hiring process is biased and unfair. Unconscious racism, ageism, and sexism play a big role in whom we hire. But there are steps you can take to recognize and reduce these biases.

The aim of screening is to find the best person for the job.

  • Be consistent.
  • Document decisions made and the reasons for them.
  • Generally you want to keep as many people in the pool as long as possible.

Check out our page on Managing Unconscious Bias for more specific information.

Bringing Candidates onto Campus

We are not only evaluating candidates; candidates are also evaluating us! Consider how you can demonstrate to candidates that they will be professionally  and personally supported in the position, our institution, and our communities.


INTERVIEWING CULTURALLY DIVERSE CANDIDATES

At job interviews, candidates behave in ways that they believe will demonstrate how suited they are for the job. But this behavior is based on what is important in their culture – which may be quite different from yours. Once you are aware of these cultural differences, you can put them into context so that you look more deeply at the candidate’s skills and experience.

Here are seven areas of body language to consider when interviewing candidates from other cultures: 

  • Eye contact: You may think making eye contact is a sign of respect and confidence, and candidates who avoid eye contact give the impression that they lack confidence, are hiding something, or are not trustworthy. In other cultures, making eye contact is considered highly disrespectful, and avoiding eye contact is a sign of respect.
  • Handshake: You may think a firm handshake is another sign of confidence. But in some cultures, a soft, weak handshake is the norm. And in some cultures, people shake hands vigorously for a longer time, and may put their left hand on your elbow, which may feel invasive to some people. As well, a candidate from a culture where men and women don’t shake hands may feel uncomfortable shaking hands with an interviewer of the opposite sex.
  • Smiling: You may think a warm smile is a welcoming gesture from an interviewer, and when a candidate returns the smile, both people connect. Some cultures may smile when they are embarrassed, or to conceal discomfort, and other cultures “only smile when there is something to smile about.”
  • Gestures: You may think a nod means agreement, but some other cultures roll their heads from side to side to indicate agreement. By mistake, you may interpret this as disagreement. In other cultures, people move their head down to indicate agreement — which is usually mistaken for disagreement here.
  • Body odors: Smells can greet you before you exchange words. You may be very conscious of odors, and expect candidates to be fresh and clean. In some cultures, people use strong perfumes and colognes. Food smells such as garlic or spices, or body odors, may lead you to cross candidates off your list right away. Try to be more considerate of someone’s cultural background.
  • Space wars: Candidates who come too close for comfort may cause you to retreat. You may be used to wide open spaces, and feel invaded when someone encroaches in your personal space. In most countries, the population is more dense and people are used to standing closer together. A candidate who moves closer may just be attempting to connect.
  • Showing emotion: The amount of emotion we display in the workplace is also based on culture. In some cultures, people do not show emotions openly in a business setting, and may be perceived as not being interested in the job. On the other hand, some may show more emotion that we are used to in the workplace, and may be perceived as not being in control.

 

Equal Opportunity & Access

Securing equity and fairness at UW Oshkosh.