If I had a dollar for every time a founder or engineering leader told me they want to hire women in tech, but *insert excuse* … I’d be a very rich woman. Or, at least, have enough money to take a very nice vacation where people aren’t trying to justify their teams of white men to me. 😅
It’s usually the same excuses over and over again:
- Women don’t apply for their open roles
- The women who apply aren’t technical enough
- The offers they extend to women don’t get accepted
…. And the list goes on!
These are common scenarios that plague a lot of companies. I experienced them myself as a recruiter and People leader! But they’re still excuses.
Doing the same things over and over and expecting different results is often called the definition of insanity. I’d argue that posting your open roles on the same job boards, sharing them with the same networks, and expecting more women in your pipeline and on your team is the same thing. Or, at the very least, a losing battle!
At Tech Ladies, we’ve spent the better part of a decade helping companies of all sizes hire great talent that happens to be women and women of color. Often for the very hard-to-fill roles where women are the most underrepresented! (Looking at you, engineering, product management, and data science.)
We know what works, and we regularly coach our hiring partners on exactly what they need to see results. (And they do see results! Our success stories are proof of that.)
I’ve rounded up our top tips for hiring more women in tech and am going to walk you through implementing them. If you actually want to build a diverse and inclusive team, then this is the post for you!
1. Craft a thoughtful job description
Job descriptions are hard and time consuming to write. That’s why a lot of us resort to copy/pasting a similar one that we find online, making a few edits, and calling it a day. This is a big mistake!
Your job description is a candidate’s first impression of your company, and it says a lot about your company and what you value.
Job descriptions have a HUGE impact on whether your ideal candidates apply for your open role, and thus the quality of your team. For this reason, we recommend thinking of them as the marketing tools they are.
Women in particular are looking for more than just a role. They’re looking for a company where they can bring their whole selves to work, where they’ll be supported, and where they can really grow their careers. This means that what you share about your company and team can mean just as much as the description of the role itself.
There’s a lot that goes into doing this well but, luckily, we wrote you step-by-step instructions! There’s even a cheat sheet you can share with your team to get their buy-in for making these impactful changes.
2. Share your job where women hang out
There are hundreds of job boards out there, and most of them have no curation or quality filter. It’s just dozens and dozens of jobs of varying quality. Not exactly where you want to hang out online!
A better approach is to share your open roles on niche job boards tied to active communities. This helps you tap into highly-qualified candidate pools with both active and passive candidates that you couldn’t otherwise reach. And, as a result, you’ll get a more curated group of applicants, and they’ll be way more qualified.
After all, what better place to hire a Chief of Staff than the Chief of Staff Network? And who will have more legal operations pros than the Legal Operators community?
You can find communities and job boards based on role type, seniority, underrepresented identities, and more. All with a few simple Google searches!
I recommend looking for job boards that are attached to larger communities because it means people are hanging out there even if they’re not actively job searching. Some of your best applicants may be people who are happily employed but so excited by your opportunity that they’ll apply anyway!
For the same reason, you should also prioritize communities/job boards that surface job postings to relevant members in other ways than an actual job board.
Look for opportunities to share your role in the community’s newsletter, on their social media, or even during their virtual and in-person events. This extra exposure can make all the difference in finding the right candidates for your roles!
I know this approach works because we see it every day with Tech Ladies Unlimited.
Companies that work with us can post as many jobs as they like on our Job Board and get added exposure from our email newsletter, social posts, and even virtual and in-person events.
This approach can save you time and money because you’re reviewing a smaller pool of more qualified candidates, and building trust with your top candidates from day one by associating yourself with a community they believe in.
3. Proactively reach out to great candidates
Don't wait for candidates to come to you, proactively reach out to them!
Sourcing is key for a diverse top-of-funnel, especially when it comes to more senior and/or technical roles where women are even more underrepresented. It shows them that you see them in this role, and that you want them on your team.
Sourcing is overwhelmingly done on LinkedIn because it’s by far the largest database of professional skills and experience. Their native tools make it easy to perform Boolean searches to hone in on candidates that might be a good fit for your open roles.
You can then rely on any mutual connections to provide a warm intro and/or reach out cold to share a little more information about the role.
A couple pro tips for your outreach:
- Keep it short! A couple paragraphs with 1-3 sentences each is really the max here.
- Share a link to the job description so they can easily learn more about your company and the role itself.
- Don’t send them to your ATS. Offer to hop on a quick call instead! You’re reaching out to them so you should make it as easy as possible for them to engage.
- Consider having your CEO, CTO, or similar reach out for harder-to-fill roles like senior engineering or leadership roles.
- Be prepared to send a lot of emails! Response rates of 15-20% are common.
As you may have guessed, the downside is that this type of outreach can be incredibly time consuming, especially if you don’t have a dedicated source or recruiter on your team. Many people have incomplete profiles, and it’s not always clear if they’re open to new roles. There’s also no way to ensure a diverse top-of-funnel because it’s just one big talent pool.
If you don’t want to spend hundreds of hours on LinkedIn, our Talent Network streamlines your search (and diversifies your pipeline) by giving you direct access to 2,000+ top candidates in our community.
No more browsing incomplete profiles and messaging candidates who may or may not be searching. Just vetted profiles (including resumes, value statements, LinkedIn profiles, and more!) of great women from our community!
4. Show them how you’re building a diverse, inclusive team
Over the last few years, a lot of companies have jumped to include a DEI statement on their website and in their job postings. But talk is cheap!
Women in tech don’t want you to tell them that they prioritize diversity and inclusion. They want you to show them how you do it.
This looks different for every company, but below are a few items that can be compelling proof points for women in tech:
- Paid parental leave (Make sure to include details!)
- Flexible work schedules that make caretaking easier
- ERGs for women and women of color
- Professional development stipends and/or internal training programs
- Mentorship programs
- Women in senior leadership roles
- DEI trainings for your team
These are great points to include in your job descriptions and on your careers site where you can. A bulleted list with brief descriptions for each can go a long way!
We encourage our hiring partners to do both, and to also think about other ways they can put these initiatives front and center in their recruiting efforts. For example, when partners sponsor virtual or in-person events, we often try to get their Womxn's ERG involved with the programming.
5. Create a good candidate experience
Hiring processes have gotten increasingly long in recent years—especially for technical roles!
Many candidates can really only be in process with 3-4 companies at a time, sometimes less if they are already working full-time and have additional caretaking responsibilities. This means women in tech are pickier than ever about what roles they’re applying for and that they have to drop out of a lot of hiring processes, too.
It’s important to make sure your process is as short and streamlined as possible, and to regularly audit it to make sure that there are no obvious drop-off points that disproportionately affect women and other candidates from underrepresented groups. Our friends at Byteboard have a great article that dives deeper into the importance of this!
But, of course, creating a fair process is just one piece of a great candidate experience. Check out our advice for building a great candidate experience that keeps more women in the pipeline!
6. Support them after you hire them
Retaining talent is not only good for business, it's good for ensuring you can continue to hire more women in tech.
Women often consider your job description just the first step of their online sleuthing. You can bet they're going to follow it to your company’s website, LinkedIn, and even to Google to see what articles they can find. Suffice to say, they’re going to notice if technical women at your organization have a high turnover!
Investing in employee retention efforts will help you keep these women on your team, along with other employees. That’s a win/win for everyone—they get a better place to work and you reduce your recruiting and onboarding costs.
This may seem like a lot of time and effort, but that’s because recruiting in general requires time and effort. And it pays off in the form of great hires and a more diverse team, which is proven to lead to better business outcomes.
I hope these tips have helped you think about some changes you can make to welcome more women into your pipeline and onto your team! And don’t forget to check out Tech Ladies Unlimited to learn how we can help you hire directly from our community of 120,000+ women in tech. ✨