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HR Veteran Tim Sackett Shares Advice for Recruiting in the New Workplace Landscape

Veteran recruiter Tim Sackett, President at HRU Technical Resources and author of The Talent Fix: A Leader’s Guide to Recruiting Great Talent, doesn’t want to work with companies that are looking for traditional headhunters. That probably sounds like the kiss of death for someone in his line of work because, after all, as his recruiter mother used to remind him, “The customer is always right.” However, he has real reasons for taking this approach. 

“I’m just like, ‘No, the customer isn’t always right.’ I’m not going to allow you to waste the time of my recruiters. It’s too valuable,” he said in this week’s “Untapped” podcast, where host Tariq Meyers has real discussions with leaders in the field about real issues in the D&I space.

But what Tim will allow is a company to come to him when leaders are ready to have real conversations about their staffing needs and get real feedback. And sometimes that feedback isn’t pretty. Sometimes it’s not what people want to hear or it’s not what they feel like they can accomplish. But in a rapidly-changing future of work, Tim believes out-of-the-box solutions are needed to solve recruiter problems—and in order to find these solutions, organizations have to be willing to be real.

To keep it real when recruiting, Tim discussed the following solutions to challenges recruiters face when trying to meet the goals of their diversity recruitment plans.

If You Don’t Have a Diverse Hiring Funnel, Build One

Tim often finds that companies looking to hire workers from certain demographics are dismayed because there simply aren’t enough candidates in their area to meet their targets. One example was when he worked with a company that wanted to hire more African-American nurses, but the local talent pool was too small.

“I was in a house system where I had a board of directors that came to me and half of the board was African-American, and they were like, ‘Tim, we want our nursing to match our community. We're an 18% African-American community. We need 18% of our nurses to be black,’” said Tim. “And I go, “You can't do that. You don't understand markets. You don't understand there's not enough black nurses. If I hired every black nurse in the entire city, we still would not get to 18%.” 

In order to help the company address this problem in a real and effective way, Tim told the board it was time to execute a unique plan that would create from scratch the candidates in the community the organization wanted.

“I said, ‘Here's what you could do. You could go out and you could cherry pick great minority talent from high schools and give them full ride scholarships to nursing school, and do all these things. Fill the funnel with black nurses, and we'll get to there. It's going to take some time, but we'll get there," he explained.

Prioritize Representation Among Company Leadership and Interview Panels

Even when a company is able to bring diverse talent into its funnel, the candidates may still face challenges if hiring managers do not share their background and experiences. 

“If I'm a white guy and I interview a black guy and I interview an Asian female and I interview an old white woman, and I interview a white guy that's similar to my age, almost always I'm going to choose the white guy that's just like me,” Tim said. “Even if they have the same resume, same skill sets, we naturally will have this rapport and this language and this cultural share that I go, ‘I think Tim's going to be a great hire.’”

But isn’t this blatant discrimination? According to Tim, not necessarily. He explained it to Tariq this way: “So people always go, ‘Oh, that's bias. That's racism. Blah, blah, blah.’ No, no, no. If you as a young black man interview another young black man and interview me, you're going to choose the young black man every single time. Is that racism? No. It's a human nature that we go with what we're comfortable with.” 

To address this issue, Tim says companies need to ensure there is diversity among interview panels, but just having diverse groups in the room isn’t enough. The process must be egalitarian, with each diverse member of the panel having the same veto power as non-diverse members.

“What we have to do is stop at the interview stage, in the selection stage, and go, ‘Wait a minute. If I constantly have middle-aged white guys making selection decisions, that's going to cause a problem,’” he said.

Be Transparent About Your Diversity Hiring Data

For organizations to tackle any challenges they have in recruiting candidates from diverse backgrounds, they need to take a real hard look at where they stand—and they can only do this by leveraging their data and being transparent about the numbers.

“I think the power of data and transparency of data really starts to open the eyes and shed light on people doing bad things. And I think we can do it broadly as an organization. The real leaders in this space will start to truly dive down on the data to figure out where their problems are organizationally, and they'll go and attack those directly,” said Tim. “What we know is when we dig into organizational data around DE&I, automatically you'll see the issues. You'll see the churn, who's churning over the most diverse talent, and who's not selecting the most diverse talent. As you start to put light on those situations, all of a sudden, real conversation starts to happen and real learning starts to happen, and then real progress starts to happen.”

To find out more of Tim’s thoughts on D&I and the future of work, listen to the latest episode of Canvas’s “Untapped” podcast.


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