February 18th, 2015 / Insight posted in

How to Attract ‘Techy’ Women: Reboot Your Recruitment

By Zoe Wilson If you are a small Technology Company, you may take a look around and find that you have an all male workforce. Even some of the larger companies can struggle to attract and recruit women into their businesses, but why is this? Despite there being a broader skills shortage in the industry, I can’t help but feel that there are more talented females out there that for some reason, are either not applying or not getting to interview-stage for key tech roles. A few of the biggest names in the industry – Facebook, Pinterest and Box have decided to tackle the issue head-on by piloting a one-to-one mentoring program called WEST (Women Entering and Staying in Tech) aimed at attracting more women into technical roles. But if you don’t have the capacity to set up a mentoring group of your own, here are a few tips on how you could make small changes and see positive results:

  • Review the wording in your job adverts and job descriptions;
  • Have female employees on your interview panel (if possible) or at least address the elephant in the room by informing  your candidates that you’re encouraging a more diverse workforce;
  • Educate your Recruiters!  Are you even getting to see their CVs or are they being sifted out before they even reach you if they have had a period of time out of work?;
  • Allow for an ‘incubation period’ for anyone returning to work after a period of time off.

It’s subtle, but we suggest you start by taking a look at the language you are using in your job adverts and job descriptions. It has been suggested that male candidates are more likely to have the confidence to go for a role where they meet 60% of the criteria and could learn the rest. Women on the other hand appear to be more reserved and if there are skills you’ve listed that they don’t yet have, they may not even consider applying, even if they meet 90% of what you’ve asked for! A small but simple statement at the end of your advert suggesting that ‘for the right candidate’ the Company would support them to grow into the role, might make all the difference. In the job advert and job description it may also be worth changing any criteria that are not deal breakers, from ‘essential’ to ‘desirable’ or ‘the potential to…’. This should have the effect of broaden your candidate pool to those who know they could do it with a little guidance and support.  Who knows, you may find a star that wouldn’t have otherwise applied! The interview is as much about selling the Company to the candidate as it is the candidate to the Company. If you are an all male workforce, have someone on your panel that isn’t afraid to address the ‘elephant in the room’ and explain that they are really keen to encourage a mix of male and female applicants to join the Company and would like to see more of a balance within the Company moving forwards.

Does your Recruiter really know what you are looking for? It is wise to ensure that they are fully briefed on what you would consider suitable for your long-list, but if you think this could be a current issue in your business, why not sample a few of the ‘rejected’ candidates and give your Recruiter feedback on any potential candidates that have slipped through the net. Many people might be of the view that tech is very fast-paced and that you can become out of touch with the latest technology very quickly – potentially preventing you from re-entering the tech space after a period of time out. Listening to a number of speakers at a recent TechUK event, this simply isn’t the reality. For a number of Companies the foundation of their technology remains the same, and it was felt that it wouldn’t take too much time or effort to bring someone back up-to-date with any developments through an ‘incubation period’ as some Companies do with their Graduates. If you can invest the time you might find that you recruit someone who really values being given the opportunity and will go the extra mile to prove that you made the right decision. In summary, there are lots of subtle ways that we think you could increase female candidates applying for your roles, getting shortlisted and wanting to join your business. This may always be a challenge, but if you need further guidance on what to try, look at what the industry leaders are doing, network, try doing things a little differently and see if it makes a difference.