Top 4 Inclusive Hiring Practices to Attract New Talent, Including Students

Today’s employment environment requires more creative and diverse ways to attract and retain talent. This environment includes a workforce that is levelling-up expectations for the brands that they engage with, including employers, and seeking commitments from these organizations that align with their personal values. When speaking about employment, an organization’s dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion is highly valued by the new generation of talent as they seek a workplace that reduces barriers and provides an open and safe environment. Organizations that can establish an understanding of, and commitment to these values are more likely to attract diverse candidate pools, while committed supervisors and welcoming teams can utilize the tips below to contribute to the long-term retention of new employees.

Among the recruitment options available, employing university students could provide effective contributions to your recruitment efforts by allowing you to discover full-time and potential long-term employees early, and is a great way to build reciprocal relationships with local post-secondary schools and co-create the future of our communities. There are a number of ways to attract new candidates, including university students, and the below article highlights our top four ways to effectively and inclusively build a company culture that attracts, supports, and retains new talent.

Engage Internally About the Organizational Readiness to Hire

Organizations interested in hiring, particularly those interested in engaging university student talent, should ensure they’ve had the appropriate internal discussions, and possess the capacity necessary to mentor and engage a new hire. For university student hires, most work-integrated learning (WIL) or co-op programs require a supervisor that is able to provide support, constructive feedback, and hands-on training to help a university student grow and develop professionally. You can learn more about the various forms of WIL and employer requirements through our employer resources.

Start a Conversation Around Your Commitments to Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI)

Once you’ve established your readiness to engage a new member of your organization, we recommend taking time to reflect on current hiring practices. Are those responsible for hiring trained on inclusive hiring practices? Can you make and support the necessary accommodations to ensure there is access for all interested candidates? Do your hiring practices address potential barriers to individuals trying to apply? If you’re looking to dig deeper into some of these questions, read on.

Anticipating and understanding structural and systemic barriers for candidates, as well as becoming conscious of, and addressing potential unconscious biases, can bring a sense of comfort and safety to the applicant throughout the entire hiring process. For example, many resources have been developed to answer questions like, ”how do I eliminate racial bias in the screening process?”, “how do I create a culturally sensitive job interview?” or “how do I create a workplace that’s inclusive for transgender employees?” If you are looking for ways to start these conversations, the following resources developed by provincial and national WIL organizations may be helpful:

Create an Attractive Job Posting

Effective and inclusive hiring also means reviewing and improving job postings, as these postings are a candidate’s first introduction to your organization.

Does your company have an equity statement they would like to post? Are there specific hiring initiatives dedicated to people who have been historically and currently excluded from candidate pools? Highlighting these will showcase a commitment and dedication to equity and inclusion, a value that the next-generation workforce, including university students, are looking for in a potential employer and workplace. It also provides the opportunity to re-commit organizational values to all applicants and current employees, sharing how your workplace is or is working towards providing a safe and equitable environment for all.

When drafting or reviewing a job description, try to be aware of the language being used. Language within the job description can impact the number of applications received and therefore the opportunity to find the best overall candidate. It’s important to keep in mind and exclude the writing of things such as gender stereotypes, ableist language, and industry-specific jargon wherever possible. Oftentimes, the use of such language can result in candidates self-selecting out of applying due to unfamiliarity, intimidation, or displeasing perceptions. Keeping the language of the job description simple and straightforward can showcase to applicants a positive and inclusive working environment, and also ensure no candidate feels excluded from the role or organization on first introduction to the workplace.

Here are some examples of how to amend job description language to be more inclusive:


Instead of this…​ Use this…​ Why?​
She / He​ They​ Gender neutral language​
Best Fit​ Explain the set of values, competencies, or transferrable skills for the role​ Best fit is typically arbitrary and subjective​
Must be able to lift 50 lbs​ Moves equipment weighing up to 50 lbs By focusing on the task versus the ability removes ableist language
Self-starter​ Takes initiative​ High potential for misinterpretation


“Like people in most other human endeavors, hiring managers are powerfully and often unwittingly influenced by their biases. While it’s exceedingly difficult to remove bias from an individual, it’s possible to design organizations in ways that make it harder for biased minds to skew judgment. …Smarter design of our hiring practices and procedures may not free our minds from our shortcomings, but it can make our biases powerless, breaking the link between biased beliefs and discriminatory […] actions.” — Bohnet (2016)

An Inclusive and Inviting Interview Experience

Interviews can sometimes be intimidating and overwhelming, especially for university students who are starting to build self-awareness and confidence in their personal attributes, skills and abilities. Attempting to create an inviting and welcoming interview experience can be pivotal to a candidate opening up and presenting an authentic and genuine self. If you are looking for ways to develop your inclusive interviewing practices, we recommend the Canadian Association of College & University Student Service’s guide to equitable practices for hiring student staff and new professionals: Working Towards Inclusion.

Throughout the hiring experience you may be met with a diverse group of candidates that have the potential to bring a wide variety of experiences to your organization. Once hired, it’s important to utilize those experiences and maximize on the new employee’s strengths to work towards the shared learning goals​ during your time together. Think about different ways to showcase their unique talents, transferrable skills and abilities in a way that enables growth and learning for both your new hire, and the members of your organization.

If you’re interested in engaging a university student in your organization, but aren’t quite sure where to start in crafting your job description or preparing for interviews, connect with us.