If your company wants to build an inclusive recruitment process, you must take into account the one in five adults, or nearly 50 million Americans, who experience a mental health condition. But where do you start when developing a recruitment process that considers the unique and diverse needs of talent with mental health challenges?
Here are seven strategies worth trying if you want to build a recruitment strategy that’s attractive and accessible for all talent:
Advertise Mental Health Benefits
Begin by looking at your company’s mental health and wellness benefits and assessing how they’re being promoted to candidates, as this is a first step toward developing a talent acquisition process that is inclusive of employees experiencing mental health conditions. When done intentionally, recruiters and hiring managers are repeatedly educating all talent on available wellness benefits.
Importantly, you’ll want to reiterate your wellness benefits multiple times, including in the recruiting screening call and subsequent job interviews, offer letters, and onboarding process. Additionally, all individuals involved in the recruitment process must be trained and ready to answer questions related to your organization’s wellness benefits. Also, consider how leaders speak to their personal use of these benefits, as this can help remove the stigma associated with seeking out resources and support for mental health.
Develop Inclusive Job Descriptions
While you’re at it, take time to review your job descriptions to ensure they’re using inclusive language. Although job descriptions are only effective if they reflect the true nature of the work employees do, they’re still important and send a message to candidates that your organization is thinking about its talent.
Because language is constantly evolving, your organization may wish to adopt a quarterly or semiannual process of reviewing and updating job descriptions with the latest language used to describe mental health.
Make Requesting Accommodations Easy
From the get-go, you want candidates with mental health conditions to feel as welcomed, included, and comfortable as possible. Consequently, reflect on how easy your company makes it for prospective talent to request an interview accommodation. Further, recognize that accommodations will look different for different people, and ensure your organization is prepared to quickly and effectively respond to the requests that come in from applicants.
Train Staff in Interview Best Practices
Next, take time to adequately train staff on interview best practices, including the types of questions that are off-limits. Importantly, you will want your training to extend beyond the talent acquisition team and involve anyone who may interview applicants, including potential peers, direct reports, and cross-functional partners.
Assess the Number of Interview Rounds
While on the topic of interviews, review the number of interviews involved in your hiring process. Talent only has so much energy, particularly if they’re managing one or more mental health conditions, and you want to be respectful of their capacity. Consequently, take time to reflect on who needs to be involved in the interview process and shave off unnecessary interviews when possible.
Keep Talent Updated on Their Candidacy
Another aspect of the interview process to assess through a mental health lens is how you keep candidates apprised of their candidacy’s progress. Although a modern-day job search is stressful for anyone, it can be particularly anxiety-producing for those living with a mental health condition.
Notably, applicants appreciate regular updates, even when the update is that there isn’t one, as it reduces some of the stress and anxiety associated with looking for a new role. With this in mind, consider adopting a cadence of providing candidates with updates at least weekly or biweekly. You can use automation, when possible, to alleviate the burden placed on the talent acquisition team.
Provide Ample Time to Respond to a Job Offer
Once you do extend a job offer to candidates, be sure you provide them with ample time to make a decision. This is a best practice not only for talent living with mental health conditions but for all candidates, as it removes the pressure associated with making a major career and life decision.
While some hiring managers may push for a 24-hour or 48-hour turnaround, consider allowing candidates up to a week to make their decision, if business needs allow, so they could consult a trusted advisor before signing their offer letter.
Final Thoughts on Developing a Recruitment Process that is Mental Health-Friendly
These are just a few strategies to make your recruitment process more welcoming for people living with mental health conditions. On a final note, recognize that developing a culture that is inclusive and fosters a true sense of belonging requires constant learning, so be open to feedback and continuous iteration. You’ve got this!
Dr. Kyle Elliott, MPA, CHES (he/him/his) is the founder and career coach behind CaffeinatedKyle.com. His expertise is in Silicon Valley and high tech. He is an official member of the invitation-only Forbes Coaches Council as well as a member of the Gay Coaches Alliance.
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