What You Need to Know About Inclusion as a Job Seeker
Let’s talk about what inclusion means for you as a job seeker. Don’t feel like reading? Listen here!
Most employers are now highly aware of the need to create an inclusive, diverse, and equitable work environment. Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives are a big deal in 2022. As a job seeker, you probably want to be part of the solution, not the problem. This means you need an open mind when interacting with others in the workplace. It also means you should make efforts to include others on a daily basis.
But what does that actually look like? How do you maintain mindfulness about having an open mind? And how does that really benefit you as a job seeker?
Before we discuss how to create an inclusive workplace or how being more inclusive and open-minded could benefit you as a job seeker, let’s define inclusion.
The US Department of Labor defines inclusion as “the recognition, appreciation, and use of the talents and skills of employees of all backgrounds.” The “of all backgrounds” hints to a diverse workplace, for without diversity, there’s no need to work toward inclusion.
The ability to include your colleagues of all backgrounds is a skill employers are looking for during the interview process.
As a job seeker, it’s up to you to address how well you recognize, appreciate, and utilize the talents and skills of others to complete tasks. Career readiness and soft skills contribute to a more inclusive workplace, including collaboration, communication skills, conflict prevention, and critical thinking skills.
One reason employers push DEI initiatives is because unwillingness to create safe spaces for all employees often results in lawsuits and formal complaints with federal agencies, including the Office of Civil Rights and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Employers do not prefer to spend time, money, and productivity this way because they need to focus instead on the organizational mission, goals, and core values.
Showcasing your ability to recognize and accept others of all backgrounds indicates that you will be part of the solution, not the problem.
Mindset for Inclusion as a Job Seeker
How can you, as a job seeker, develop a more inclusive mindset in the workplace?
The first step is to identify any barriers or obstacles in your experience, ways of thinking, or emotional intelligence which hinder you from contributing to inclusion in the workplace. Some common barriers include:
- Making decisions about others based on faulty assumptions
- Deep-seated unconscious biases or prejudice
- Fear and insecurity
- Ego or sense of entitlement
- Unwillingness to grow and learn
When you struggle with these barriers, you will struggle to accept and include others in the workplace, regardless of their backgrounds or how you differ from them.
The greatest key to overcoming these barriers to inclusion is recognizing them.
In order to recognize your own obstacles, you need greater self-awareness (another career readiness skill). When you become more self-aware, you will have more moments of recognition about your part in forming a more inclusive work environment.
Another key to overcoming barriers to inclusion is maintaining a willingness to learn and grow.
If we think we have arrived and need no help, we’re not only fooling ourselves. We’re hindering our career development and creating an insensitive, exclusive work environment.
If we can maintain an open mind and willingness to grow and learn and push ourselves to a greater awareness of our needs for growth and change, we’ll be on the path to contributing to a more inclusive workplace.
Demonstrating Inclusivity in the Hiring Process
Once you have worked to become an inclusive candidate, how do you demonstrate inclusivity in the hiring process?
Here are two things you can do during the hiring process to demonstrate your ability to accept and include others.
Ask Thoughtful Questions About Inclusion as a Job Seeker
If inclusion truly matters to you, you’ll bring it up during the hiring process.
Whether you ask about the company’s inclusion efforts or inquire about the diversity of the team members, when you ask thoughtful questions about inclusion, you brand yourself as a candidate who cares about diversity, equity, and inclusion.
As we’ve already discussed, employers care deeply about DEI initiatives. They must create a diverse workplace that truly recognizes, appreciates, and accepts the contributions of all employees.
Asking thoughtful questions regarding inclusion during the interview process lets the employer know you’re thinking about inclusion and you want to be part of the solution.
Here are some sample questions you can ask during your job interview regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion:
- Is there a pay disparity within your organization between various demographics? If so, what are you doing to ensure greater equity?
- What DEI initiatives is your company currently working on? If you hired me, how could I help?
- Can you please share with me a little bit about each of my potential team members? I’d love to hear about their life experiences, backgrounds, and unique skill sets.
- What processes have you implemented to prevent employees from feeling excluded or unaccepted?
- Does your organization host any employee resource groups (ERGs)?
Showcase Mindful Communication Skills
When we communicate mindfully, we signal to employers that we not only have great communication skills but also that we have a strong sense of discernment, good problem-solving and decision-making skills, and the ability to build relationships. These are all soft skills employers are seeking in candidates.
How can you showcase mindful communication skills during the job interview? Here are a few ways.
- Think before you speak. A great acronym for THINK exists. You must reflect before speaking and ask yourself: Is what I’m about to say Thoughtful, Honest, Intelligent, Necessary, and Kind? If it’s not, don’t say it, or find another way to say it.
- Practice active listening. If you can quietly but attentively pay attention to the employer during the job interview, the employer will know you can practice this skill in daily work life. Active listening is a huge component of mindful communication and goes a long way in bridging gaps between differences. It also communicates to others that we find their words valuable and worth hearing.
- Communicate in a channel-rich format when possible. This gives you the chance to use your non-verbal skills. If you avoid text-only communication (channel lean), you’ll indicate that you prefer to interact face-to-face.
Employers are having trouble with quiet quitting and candidates who ghost employers. Being willing to interact face-to-face or even over the phone (rather than simply by texts or emails) will show the employer that you aren’t afraid to connect, build rapport, and learn from others. It also gives you a chance to use non-verbal skills to your advantage. Smile when others share. Let your facial expression show concern when someone shares difficulties. Indicate that you’re mindfully listening and, thus, mindfully responding.
The Ultimate Indicator of Inclusion
A great way to indicate that you’re genuinely inclusive is by sharing experiences.
Tell stories or share experiences you’ve had — both in the workplace and elsewhere — which involved working with diverse populations, gaining awareness of differences, learning about others’ cultural backgrounds, or finding ways to help others feel included.
Tell your stories (briefly when responding to interview questions), and use keywords employers are listening for, like diversity, equity, inclusion, acceptance, and recognition. Be sure to share ways you have sought opportunities to learn about others in the workplace.
If you genuinely wish to become a more inclusive person, the suggestions in this article will come naturally to you. And before you know it, you will have landed an excellent job that aligns with your objectives for career success and fulfillment.