Top 10 Ways to Hire the Best for Your Computing Start-up

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Below are ten recommendations for attracting and hiring highly qualified technical employees. These recommendations help you appeal to women, as well as people from other underrepresented groups.

  1. Write job ads and recruiting materials that appeal to highly qualified people of both sexes. Gendered words affect who applies. For example, do you write that you seek an “aggressive, hard-driving” person, or that you seek a “motivated, energetic” person? The latter text should attract more women applicants. Likewise, descriptions of your environment influence whether a reader envisions herself as belonging. For example, do you describe your office as “nerf-filled and shoes optional” or “interactive and informal?” The latter might attract female as well as male applicants.

  2. Review the language and look of your website and your physical space for inclusiveness. Beware of pronouns that convey an assumption that your technical employees are male. Use images to convey that women and minorities belong at your workplace. Ensure that your workplace decor lets women feel comfortable and welcome.

  3. Cast a wide net when you advertise openings. Specifically send notices to groups, publications, coding clubs, and “hacker schools” that have many technical women and minority members and readers.

  4. Use a hiring process that minimizes unintended bias. Conduct initial screening of applications by removing all clues to gender (e.g., names). This “blind” screening generally results in a more diverse pool of interviewees.

  5. Consider whether your interview process screens for the skills you really want (e.g., are you primarily measuring speed, which may be less important than other skills in the actual work environment). You may be missing out on highly qualified candidates by testing for the wrong characteristics.

  6. Interview at least one or two of your top women candidates. Candidates may come across differently in person than on paper. Actually meeting the best women or minority candidates can increase their chances of being selected for the position.

  7. Provide interviewees an opportunity to meet technical women already at your firm. Let candidates see that they will not be isolated and that women have succeeded at your firm. Describe the opportunities for skill-building and career advancement that your firm provides.

  8. Hire cohorts, if possible. Bring in more than one person who offers diversity. This strategy reduces feelings of isolation and prevents early departures by increasing perceived opportunities for peer support.

  9. Highlight how the company or applicant’s work contributes to society, e.g., the environment, health, social well-being, education, beauty, safety, etc. The social value of the work you offer can attract more diverse candidates.

  10. Exemplify a team mentality toward success, in contrast to focusing on individual “stars.” Working as a member of a team can be an appealing job feature, particularly to women.

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Additional Resources

For more information and practical tools that help you hire the best, visit NCWIT resouces:

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