It can be rewarding for recruiters to work in the early career space because they’re helping to support the futures of talented graduates looking for their first job. But when it comes to attracting early career candidates from underrepresented backgrounds, there are some specific challenges recruiters should keep in mind. One challenge is that some graduating students experience imposter syndrome—a belief that their experience and credentials are not good enough because of their background—and this can make them reluctant to pursue good opportunities that they’re actually qualified for. Another challenge recruiters may face when working with young candidates from underrepresented backgrounds is, although they may be interested in working for a particular company, they can be wary of being the first employee in their demographic hired when an environment is not already a diverse one.
“It can sometimes be a chicken or the egg situation. It’s like you want to create a more diverse workforce, but it’s really hard to do if you don’t have a diverse workforce,” Emily Cardner, Senior Manager of Campus & Recruiting Programs at MongoDB, explained in this week’s episode of the “Untapped” podcast. “It’s hard for a lot of people to break in and say, ‘I’m willing to be the first or some of the first in order to build this.’ And that’s totally understandable.”
In order to overcome these obstacles, Emily suggests four strategies to attract the best untapped talent entering the job market for the first time.
1. Create a Welcoming Culture
Whether or not there are already underrepresented workers in an organization, candidates want to know that they will feel at home if they’re hired. In order to have this type of environment, Emily says companies need to create a culture that is welcoming to everyone, so all talent knows they can truly be themselves when they come to work every day.
“I think what you need to do is make sure that you’re providing a really inclusive culture, so that even if someone is the first of something, or one of the first—whether it’s the color of their skin, their gender, who they love, or whatever it may be—that they feel like they can be their authentic and full self,” she said. “You need to have a culture in order to do that.”
2. Showcase the Culture
Though having a strong culture is the bedrock of recruiting early career candidates, it won’t help to attract talent if no one knows about that culture. Emily says recruiters need to showcase their culture and emphasize the fact that they’re open to workers of all backgroundsfor their diversity recruitment plans to be effective.
“There’s a lot of opportunity through employer branding and through the interview process to showcase culture. You can signal to candidates beyond the scope of an interview traditionally, where it’s, ‘You show me your skills, I’ll tell you about my company, and then we’ll sign an offer.’ I think there’s a lot more that can go into it,” said Emily.
3. Prepare Candidates
Since candidates from historically excluded backgrounds may experience imposter syndrome, Emily says it’s important for recruiters to coach them through the recruitment process so they know exactly what to expect at every step.
“We try to prepare people as much as possible so there are no surprises. I’m going to tell them about what they should be wearing, the structure of the interview, the type of person they’re going to be talking to, the type of questions that they’re going to be asked, and the resources they should look up to prepare for those questions,” said Emily. “And I think providing all of that content at every step of the way through the process helps ease people’s anxieties.”
4. Create a Diverse Interview Slate
Having untapped people at the table when candidates are going through the interview process can help both candidates and companies, says Emily.
“The one side that most people think about is that it’s creating a good candidate experience. And it absolutely is. Some of the candidates I’ve spoken to after my debrief with them say, ‘I’ve never spoken to a black engineer before.’ And that’s awesome,” she said. “But it’s also in benefit of the candidate and the process because now you have multiple perspectives speaking on behalf of this candidate as well. I think people don’t realize that side of it as much. I think it’s necessary to have diverse voices at the table in order to speak about folks from different backgrounds.”
These strategies can make it easier for organizations to bring untapped early career workers to their companies, which Emily finds to be some of the most gratifying work that a recruiter can do.
“While I love giving people jobs, giving students jobs is amazing,” Emily said. “It’s the first job that they’ve ever had, and to be a part of that journey and sort of act as a mentor as well, has been super, super fun.”
To hear more about Emily’s experiences with early career candidates and the impact they will have on the future of work, listen to this week’s episode of “Untapped,” where Canvas’s Chief People Officer, Tariq Meyers, talks to leaders in the DE&I space about ways to tap into great diverse talent.