A Long Term Strategy to Get More Female Applicants

3 min read · By Academic Positions · Published 3 weeks ago

Thanks to greater awareness about issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion, many universities are looking to increase the number of women in their programs. Too often this means only taking steps to attract more women when there is an upcoming vacancy. This short term approach can yield some positive results, but your chances of increasing the number of female applicants greatly improves with a longer recruitment strategy. 

Whether you have an institutional or department level goal of getting more female applicants, thinking about your brand and how you market your university is paramount. Although there are some strategies you can implement in the short term (like writing gender neutral job adverts and posting to social media), positioning your institution as an attractive employer for women requires you to think beyond the next vacancy. 

Start with thoughtful employer branding

Institutions need to go beyond just a sentence in their job adverts stating that they’re an equal opportunity employer. They need to show applicants who they are and the work that inspires them. A thoughtful approach to employer branding can help develop your university’s reputation and messaging. 

While some of your employer brand is determined by others (like your employees, students, and the work you put out), some of your employer brand can be shaped by the information and marketing you create. If your long term goal is to attract more women, think about how you can better align your employer brand with that goal. Dr Graham Little, Partner & Head, Global Research Leadership at executive search firm Perrett Laver says, “Think about your website, your promotional materials and wider collateral–are you showing yourself as the organisation you are aspiring to be?”

Invest in content marketing

One of the most effective ways to continue to develop your employer brand and create a more diverse faculty is by sharing your commitment to diversity and inclusion with potential job seekers. To do this, your institution needs to embrace content marketing. 

Content marketing is the best tool for communicating your employer brand since it allows you to show, rather than tell, how you support their female employees. Through targeted content marketing, you can explain why diversity and inclusion are important for your department and your university. This could be in the form of blogs and articles posted to your website, social media posts, or other marketing materials.

Content marketing is especially useful as it ultimately creates more brand awareness and name recognition for your university, which in turn helps to attract, engage, and retain talented researchers and academics. With regular, relevant content geared towards female academics, you will reach both active and passive job seekers. 

Although passive job seekers may not immediately apply for your vacancy, over time they will become more familiar with your institution and work and more likely to apply in the future. Adding more women to this candidate pipeline is more likely to lead to increases in female applicants in the future.

Let your female employees speak for themselves

One powerful way to show your passion for increasing female employees is to show applicants what it’s like to be a part of your community. Choose female ambassadors who can communicate genuinely about how your institution has helped them fulfil their potential. This might include a discussion on the support they received from colleagues, the institutional policies that helped them balance work and family life, or simply feeling valued for their contributions.

Promote this content on social media channels popular with women, like Facebook and Instagram. You should also use this type of content to target predominantly female audiences by sharing it with professional women’s organizations. Most social media channels have active female groups in nearly every field of study and discipline. 

Get help from recruitment marketing specialists

Recruitment marketing takes time and focus. Ideally, you want to be continually working on these strategies and marketing activities. Unfortunately, many departments and universities simply don’t have the knowledge, time, or resources to do it themselves. We can help. We understand the nuances and quirks of academia, plus how to leverage social media and content marketing to generate awareness, consideration and interest in your institution as an employer. 

Employer branding and content marketing need to be used on an ongoing basis to present your institution as an attractive potential employer for female researchers. With a little forethought and dedicated effort, you’ll find the number of female applicants steadily increasing to give a highly qualified, diverse staff.

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