It’s well known that change is hard and many recruiters, both internal and outsourced, are used to doing things as they’ve always done. This means that they’re going through their usual channels, which, more often than not, are affinity channels, channels with candidates similar to them.
Both hiring managers and recruiters naturally gravitate towards candidates that they find strong similarities with, whether that’s in appearance, background, or interests. Even online, they tend to join communities with others like them and that naturally narrows their candidate pool down.
So what are some concrete steps individuals and organizations can take to find those high-performing candidates that they’re currently missing? How do they successfully broaden their candidate pool to ensure a top selection of candidates that aren’t just more of the same? Here are 5 strategies that, if you implement, will get your organization on track to hiring better talent, not just from a diversity perspective, but overall.
1) Plan Ahead
This is the single most important step. Most organizations tend to hire at a point-of-need. This is a basic flaw in their recruitment as well as their talent management strategies.
When you are under pressure to find a new candidate fast, you quickly default to what you know best. This pressures recruiters and hiring managers into looking in the same old places without spending the time to seek out additional candidates or take the right amount of time to evaluate them once they find them.
Creating a pipeline of candidates and strategic succession planning is crucial to any organization’s success. You want to hire the absolute best, and you can’t do that if you’re missing a huge percentage of possible candidates.
Additionally, so many organizations we work with make the claim that, “they just don’t have the internal talent ready to step up.” This is a huge red flag that your organization is doing a very poor job of developing your team. Individuals that already know the organization, have relationships within it, and understand your customers are often very well situated to move the organization forward.
The fact that there are not team members ready to move up is a failure of the organization to properly prepare and provide them with the opportunities to grow into those roles. What would you rather do? Spend tens of thousands of dollars on the hiring and training of outside personnel with a higher chance they may not be a good fit, or invest in your current employees to build engagement with the confidence that they are already interested in staying and are a good fit for the organization?
There is, of course, value in diversity and group think can become a problem within organizations, so outside talent needs to be brought in to shake things up. You always want to have a good mix of internal and external talent. However, the problem arises when most of your senior level hires always seem to need to come from the outside. That’s a sign that you aren’t managing your internal processes well.
Planning ahead gives you the space you need to develop internal talent, build a strong pipeline, and allow for thoughtful hiring decisions that allows both hiring managers and candidates to make the best choice.
2) Throw Out the Boilerplate
Boiler-plated job descriptions and resume requirements are one of the biggest issues holding organizations back from finding diverse talent. If someone has written and designed entire programs they sold to Microsoft, do you really care if they have a university degree in Computer Science? If someone has built two companies from scratch and drove revenue of several million per year, does it matter that they don’t have an MBA from Harvard?
Talent is talent and, let’s be honest, the current university system is failing in teaching most students skills actually applicable in the work place. As we noted above, many organizations are doing the same by failing to develop their teams, so the fact that someone worked at a similar organization may not even speak to their ability to succeed in the role or in the field.
Building a recruitment strategy and training your recruitment team to look for the skills and values that will make your company successful is far more important than a checklist of qualifications or even previous work experience.
Think about what you want this person to do to succeed in the role. Maybe it’s “Grow our business from four offices in one state to 20 offices in 6 states over the next 3 years.” Now you can do two things 1) Put that goal on your application and ask candidates to speak to their previous success and how they expect to accomplish it in this new role and 2) give your recruiters and hiring managers strategic direction on what to be looking for in candidates.
Want to discuss this topic further with other professionals in the field? Join us on Twitter for #DiversityChat on Wednesdays at 8 PM (EST).
3) Expand the Search
Let’s say you’re looking for a new Sales Team Lead. Your team might start off on LinkedIn looking for people with a background in sales. However, you need to start thinking outside the box. As an example, what about consultants? Consultants actually spend at least 50% of their time looking for and closing sales on clients. As they are small and usually target niche markets, they have to get very creative in how they do that. They don’t have sales anywhere on their resumes or in their titles, but they could be great candidates for a Sales Team Leader.
Go back to the skills and goals you’ve created after step two above and think about who else might be a good fit for the role and your organization. Then find out where those people spend their time online and in real life.
You can do this demographically as well. Do you advertise in Latino Groups or maybe the local Urban League? To be clear, you should never source a candidate based on external demographics. You’re always looking for the best talent, bottom-line. However, by expanding your search into new and different groups, you expand your talent pool and potentially connect with candidates other organizations don’t even know exist. This puts you at a distinct advantage in the competition for talent.
4) Hold Your Team Accountable
Metrics and accountability are always the pieces that keep new goals on track. Don’t just tell your recruitment team to broaden their search, follow their results and continuously check in to make sure they are following through or to see if they may need additional direction and support.
Metrics you may want to consider are
– Number and variety of sources.
– Demographic data on candidates sourced, hired, and length of retention.
– Length of time to source and hire.
– Number of candidates presented to the hiring manager for interviews.
– Track these metrics geographically and across business units or roles as well.
If you don’t see improvement across metrics, you know something isn’t working and you’ll have to step in to figure out what. This is especially important when you outsource your hiring. Staffing and recruitment firms have their own internal processes that may not align with your hiring goals, so you need to be very clear what the expectation is and that you will be tracking results to ensure delivery.
5) Make Diversity Visible
In the words of Janice Celeste, Editor-in-Chief of Black Parenting Magazine, “If I don’t see D&I in the C-suites, it (the diversity initiative) is not successful. Then D&I doesn’t exist or there’s a glass ceiling.”
When candidates look at potential employers, they want to see that the organization is open to a diversity of ideas and people. If they see all White men, or all Black women, then they may think they’ll just be a token in role or that the company isn’t actually embracing diversity and inclusion, merely giving it lip service.
Diversity & inclusion starts at the top and should be reflected in every level of the organization. Then, when candidates search for additional information, or when they join the team, they are confident that they will be accepted and be able to easily find a place on the team.
You need to connect with your marketing, HR, and web development team to ensure the diversity within your organization is accurately reflected in visible and promotional materials that speak to your commitment to and valuing of diversity and inclusion.
Our LinkedIn Group at https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8392264 is another great place to connect with other Diversity & Inclusion professionals to find solutions to today’s issues.
As you can see from the above, these are not quick fixes. There is no such thing as a quick fix when it comes to revamping outdated processes and introducing new ones. These things take commitment and time. The effort is more than worth it as the time needed to build a strong and diversified workforce of exceptional talent is reduced once you do get the processes and systems in place and once people become accustomed to them.
However, the rewards are tremendous. As can be found in any number of studies these days (try these articles from McKinsey & Company, The American Bar Association, and Catalyst) inclusive organizations far outperform similar organizations that are more homogeneous in overall staff composition.
The Society for Diversity is the largest organization for diversity and inclusion in the US. With members in 43 states, The Society for Diversity represents a highly specialized association of Fortune 500, nonprofit, government and education professionals throughout the U.S. The organization was founded in 2009 for the purposes of equipping diversity and inclusion professionals with the education and resources needed to design and execute effective diversity and inclusion strategies. The Society for Diversity is also the parent company of the Institute for Diversity Certification, which designates qualification credentials to diversity experts through their professional diversity certification program.