Organisations are losing female candidates in the hiring process


It’s important to look at why organisations and recruiters lose female candidates in the hiring process


Research suggests that women tend to focus their career goals within their own organisations. This means they are less in touch with the external job market. Their LinkedIn profiles are not as complete as their male colleagues and so require more work to identify and attract into the process. Once they engage, my anecdotal experience is that they are more cautious and take longer to commit. They also withdraw, or fall of the radar, “ghosting” as it’s now called, at higher rates than male candidates. These are only some of the reasons why organisations lose female candidates in the hiring process. Many of them are really easy to correct. It’s important to look at why organisations and recruiters lose female candidates in the hiring process


6 reasons organisations lose female candidates


#1. They are more cautious

Women are more risk averse than their male colleagues. Research from LinkedIn says that women are 16% more likely to apply for a role after viewing it. They also tend to be thorough in their research. I have found that they are slower to engage and for obvious reasons are more cautious about calls and messages from recruiters and head hunters.

It’s important that once they have expressed interest, anyone who approaches them does so in a professional and transparent way which is easily tracked. They will be deeply suspicious of echoing VOIP call messages, email messages with only a first name and no full email signature. They also tend to respond more slowly or not at all to connection requests and LinkedIn InMails from people they don’t know.

They can also be more concerned about confidentiality. Women candidates expect to have answers to their questions, so any indications that a recruiter is not fully briefed will put them off.

organisations lose female candidates

#2 They talk to people

Women are not transactional networkers, but they do talk to people especially their inner circle.They will frequently ask in their network of close associates for the inside scoop on the hiring organisation and they key players. If there are any skeletons in any closets they will find out. The same research from LinkedIn shows women are 26% less likely to ask for a referral if they are interested in a job opening.  We know that 31% of jobs are filled via the referral system.

#3 The recruiter or hiring manager does not pay attention

Recruiters are 13% less likely to click on a female LinkedIn profile and 3% less likely to send an InMail to a woman than a man. Unconscious bias is alive and well as we know and recruiters need to pay attention to that. If they haven’t had unconscious bias training they shouldn’t be a recruiter.

Women do not inflate their skills to the same degree as men and may self-deselect if at any point if they feel, or are made to feel, that their experience may be in adequate. Interviewers need to ask penetrating questions. The focus needs to be on what support they will have to help them succeed rather than the just-get-on-with-it and learn-as-you-go-along mantra.

If female candidates seem hesitant ask them the detail behind their concerns. One candidate, Keira found she would not be able to catch a train that would get her to the new place of work by 0900 because she had to drop her daughter off at school. Very often it’s easy to find work around solutions. In this case, although the recruiter did not openly dismiss her concerns, he managed to convey that he thought she should get the earlier train and drop her daughter into the breakfast club and hour earlier. “Any company that doesn’t have that degree of flexibility would not be for me. If it shows this early on I was concerned that it was embedded in the culture.”

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#4 The process is too long

The interview process can be lengthy depending on an organization’s hiring policies. 5-7 interviews is common place. Quite often women will withdraw from the process because they do not have the time, as they still assume responsibilities for childcare.Their schedules are finely tuned and balanced to make sure they meet both their professional and personal commitments.They always don’t have time or availability for lunch meetings or after work discussions. Making sure your process is tight and being sensitive to their obligations is critical. It may mean that you will have to schedule calls late in the evening which might be the first time they are free in a day.

A drawn out process also sends a message to a good candidate that you are not sure about them and they simply lose interest. 

#5 The benefits or terms are not significantly better

You have to make it worth their while. Very often its the emotional salary which is as important to them as the hard remuneration. Declare your flex and other benefits early in the process. Find out what they are looking for. This is a piece of a compensation package can mean the difference between attracting and retaining top female talent. They are not interested in an open bar on a Friday or a Foosball table in the cafeteria. As the competition heats up, organisations need to be more creative to attract the best candidates.

That is not to mean you should neglect the hard compensation side. Women are looking for companies transparent about gender pay and clients are starting to report top women being poached for higher salaries by their competition, particularly in STEM fields.

#6 There is no learning or growth culture

Women want to know they’ll be learning as well as getting recognition for their efforts. Transparency, inclusion and visibility around leadership strategies and priorities are a big part of creating an engaging company culture. Recognition and respect are the of two top listed criteria for increased employee engagement including the possibility for growth. These outstripped cash benefits.

If hiring managers and recruiters genuinely want to attract more women candidates they need to change the way they treat them within the process. If they don’t their commitment will be lip service only and we will still continue to hear people whine that there are no female candidates. Of course there are! if they don’t want to lose female candidates they have to commit to a different approach and show greater understanding.


Contact 3Plus NOW to learn more about our Executive Search and Diversity Recruitment services to identify and attract high potential women to your organisation.

Dorothy Dalton Administrator
Dorothy Dalton is CEO of 3Plus International. A specialist in diversity and bias conscious executive search, she supports organizations to achieve business success via gender balance, diversity and inclusion. She is CIPD qualified, and a certified coach and trainer including digital learning.
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