How to attract female candidates

by Jun 1, 2023

 Your employer brand plays a key role in how you attract female candidates. It is in everything you say and do, online, in person, your website, and how your employees act and interact.


A job posting came into my feed recently and was a perfect example of what not to do to attract female talent. The key message was how to show you’re a male-coded organisation, without saying you’re a male-coded organisation.  I even tweeted about it. It was shocking, riddled with all kinds of bias not just sexism, ageism, ableism, nationality, language and so much more.

This particular job ad was looking for a Top Gun COO. You mean the “I feel the need for speed” Top Gun? Shirtless men playing volleyball on a beach Top Gun?


This is how you attract female candidates

1. Establish an Inclusive Employer Brand

All organisations convey their company values and culture without even knowing they are doing it.  Your employer brand plays a key role in attracting female talent. It is in everything you say and do, online, in person, your website, and how your employees act and interact.

Make sure you take steps to promote gender diversity in your workplace and showcase your achievements on your website and social platforms. Share the success stories of women in leadership positions in your organisation and promote your company as an employer that supports inclusivity.

Be careful not to gender wash because today women are savvy and discerning. Research from LinkedIn indicates they apply for fewer jobs than their male colleagues and research thoroughly and are more likely to be hired.

2. Give your Hiring Managers Unconscious Bias Awareness Training

Many organisations are not effective in giving all their employees unconscious bias training. Making sure this is carried out on an ongoing basis and not just a “check box,” “once and done” initiative is important. Business leaders wonder why they have limited success when all they ave done is offer a drive-thru Lunch and Learn.

3. Create gender-neutral job postings.

Do NOT be the Top Gun company. Create job postings that use inclusive language.  This is not just about using gender-specific pronouns like “he/she or they” it is about actively demonstrating that you offer opportunities for growth and are open to a wider range of talents.

4. Keep the job description real

There is a lot of false research around women applying for jobs where they meet 100% of the requirements. Research from Curt Rice debunks this myth perpetuated by even Mckinsey and Sheryl Sandberg.  This is rooted in internal research from HP showed that women apply for open jobs only if they think they meet 100 percent of the criteria listed, whereas men respond to the posting if they feel they meet 60 percent of the requirements. But it is not based on data.

Further research from the Behavioural Insights Team in 2022 shows that although there is a discrepancy it is actually much smaller than these urban recruitment myths lead us to believe.

Men apply when they’re 52% qualified. Women apply when they’re 56% qualified.

The same research also showed “this gender difference emerges solely among less qualified participants. Among more qualified participants, there is no gender difference in willingness to apply. ” 

However, it’s still important not to inflate the skills and requirements for the post. You really need to examine bias in demands for a “top tier business school” or “10 years in a similar role.”

Note: I am now in the process of updating many of the 3Plus resources, so please factor this in!

5. Fish where there are fish

When organisations complain they can’t find women candidates it’s frequently because they are looking in the wrong places. You have to fish where there are fish or not in waters that are already fished out.  3Plus offers executive search services to support your efforts present hiring managers with gender-balanced shortlists.

It’s important to diversify your sourcing strategies to find the best talent for your needs.


Download our eBooks:

12 key steps to attract, recruit and retain female talent

The way men and women look for jobs

6. Communicate Benefits Relevant to Women

Your job ads and company website should highlight perks and benefits relevant to female candidates. These could be remote work, flexible timings, on-site daycare facility, healthcare coverage, or any other HR initiatives that you may have taken for your employees. They should be available to both men and women because until women have parity at home they will continue to make job career decisions around non-professional factors such as the length of a commute or access to childcare.

By showcasing these benefits, you also demonstrate your commitment to gender equity.

Women self deselect for factors related to work-life balance and practical issues such as proximity to day care and domestic support. There is a gender commuting gap. 

7. State the salary and compensation

Communicate the salary at the outset as well as your policy around the gender pay gap and your commitment to equal pay.

8. Manage your screening process

Make sure you offer flexibility around screening in terms of timing. Women take on the second shift at home and you may have to fit into their schedules.    Automated screening could help in this although it offers flexibility many people are wary of it and don’t feel comfortable with one-way interviews.

9. Set up diverse interview panels

Set up diverse interview panels that include women indicating that your organisation is committed to inclusive hiring.

10. Implement a Structured Interview Process

Many hiring managers base their decision on a series of casual conversations. The most effective processes have greater structure with frequent checkpoints for compliance. This means that each candidate will have the same experience involving pre-specified interview rounds and assessment metrics. Some companies are even issuing questions in advance to make the process more inclusive for introverts and neuro-divergent candidates.

These systemic changes are low cost, but they do require a mindset shift. This is always the challenge.


Do you want to change the way your organisation attracts candidates? Get in touch today!


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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In today's rapidly evolving world, it's essential for organisations to embrace diversity and inclusion. Organisations unconsciously communicate their company cultures and values in everything they do including their job postings. These can either attract or repel talent from a diverse range of backgrounds.

A crucial step in this process is ensuring that your job postings reflect these values. Our training program will equip you with the knowledge and skills to craft job descriptions that attract candidates from all backgrounds, eliminating bias and fostering an inclusive hiring process.


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