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How to Hire Talent From Underrepresented Backgrounds

The business case for recruiting untapped talent has been proven many times over. Studies show that having a diverse and inclusive workplace can increase revenues, attract talent as well as customers, and boost productivity and retention. In order to get these benefits, a strong diversity recruitment plan is needed, and the following steps can help you develop a diversity hiring process that will help you find qualified candidates from different backgrounds and retain them.

Where Can I Hire a Diverse Talent Pool?

In order to hire talent of all backgrounds, your organization should have a presence in the places these workers congregate. There are several platforms you can participate in to get your company in front of diverse talent to make it known that you are committed to diversity and inclusion in your workplace. The following are some examples of these diversity hiring platforms.

  • Diversity.com: This job board allows you to post your entry-level and professional positions for any length of time you choose, access the profiles and resumes of job seekers, and post positions for single or multiple locations.
  • Pink Jobs: This board caters to the LGBTQ+ community, and it allows organizations to post unlimited jobs and receive notifications when candidates with the qualifications they’re looking for register on the site.
  • Fairygodboss: This board is for women at different levels in their careers. Companies create a profile on the site for users to access, which allows them to highlight their positions and the benefits they offer that make them a good place for female talent to work.

Leveraging Resumes When Recruiting Candidates From Underrepresented Backgrounds

Although recruiters may have every good intention of recruiting historically excluded candidates, sometimes unconscious bias gets in the way. In fact, something as simple as someone’s name can preclude them from getting access to good opportunities: For example, according to a study in Administrative Science Quarterly, candidates with “white” sounding names are 150 percent more likely to get a response to their resume from hiring managers compared to those with “black” sounding names—despite the fact that the information on the resumes was identical. To combat this type of unconscious bias, you can adopt a blind resume screening approach, which allows resumes to be evaluated based on qualifications, rather than personal information like addresses, colleges attended, and dates of birth. 

On the other hand, another way that recruiters can leverage resumes during their diversity hiring process is to consciously use information to candidates’ advantage, rather than unconsciously using it against them. Companies that want to add certain populations in their workforce—like veterans, older generations, and people from broader geographic locations—can use resumes as a way to find these candidates, thus making the applicant pool more diverse.

3 Proven Approaches for Recruiting Diverse Talent

In order to successfully attract more untapped candidates, you can incorporate the following three strategies into your recruitment plan:

  • Assemble a diverse hiring team: Having a diverse hiring team is beneficial because it allows candidates to see that someone from their own background is represented in the company, which will make them feel comfortable about possibly working there. Also, when you have people from different backgrounds on the hiring team, you have diverse voices in the room who can use their own experience to evaluate a potential hire. 
  • Draft job advertisements that signal openness to diversity: Some strategies you can use in job posts to increase the chances of attracting diverse talent include using gender neutral language, distinguishing minimum qualification requirements from preferred requirements, and presenting job benefits in a way that would appeal to underserved communities. In addition, specifically talking about your company’s dedication to inclusion and the reasons diverse talent should choose to work there can also boost your chances of getting interest from these applicants. 
  • Encourage referrals: The great talent you already have probably knows other people who would also be a great fit for your organization, so encouraging your workforce to make referrals is an effective way to find diverse applicants—particularly if you have workers who are members of untapped communities. In addition to putting prospective employees on your radar, your current employees can sell your organization to their contacts, making the case about why they should consider working there. 

How to Retain Candidates of Every Background

Although hiring workers from all backgrounds is important, it won’t mean much if your organization is unable to retain them. In order to do this, your company has to make these hires feel welcome when they get there—otherwise, all of your diversity recruitment efforts will be in vain. Some ways to make your workplace more inclusive include creating employee resource groups where individuals can connect with each other and discuss their concerns, training managers on how to work with employees from different backgrounds, and creating paths for these workers to advance in the company. In addition, it’s important to remember that no group is a monolith, so while you want to consider what people from underrepresented backgrounds need, keep in mind that they should also be treated as individuals and not just a group of people who are all the same.

How to Measure Progress When Recruiting Diverse Candidates 

In order to ensure that your attempts at hiring diverse candidates have been successful, you need to define what success looks like and create measurable goals. Some metrics you can pay attention to include how many candidates from underrepresented backgrounds apply for positions, get interviewed, move on to the shortlist, and end up getting hired. Also, you want to measure your retention rates and find out at what point workers may leave your organization. By looking at these numbers regularly, you can understand where you fall short on your goals, and create a new plan to address these issues.

Recruiting a diverse talent pool can be challenging, but it’s well worth the effort. These tips can help you make your diversity recruitment more successful so you can attract and retain workers from the different groups you’re targeting.


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