How to Meet the Demand for Diversity in Staffing Versique Search Consulting - How to Meet the Demand for Diversity in Staffing - Versique

How to Meet the Demand for Diversity in Staffing

by Chris Dardis

Not only is hiring for diversity one of the most effective ways to boost your business’s bottom line, but also, it’s the right thing to do. Many businesses that hire diverse candidates:

  • Are more able to attract and retain employees
  • Are more profitable
  • Experience less risk
  • Have an improved brand image and reputation

We’re excited to share some things we’ve seen working for businesses (and some things that don’t work as well) when staffing for diversity. In this blog, we’ll dig into the questions and tips on how to diversify your pool of candidates and more.

The struggles businesses face in hiring for diversity

For many businesses, the need for diversity in the workplace is still just settling in. If it hasn’t become a focus for your business model, it will be soon.

One industry we’ve seen struggling to create more diversity is IT. Even though many IT companies have done a lot of the hard work already to increase diversity in their workplace, they’re still struggling to find the right engineers to create a stronger workforce.

One issue: many companies automatically lock into an idea of what diversity means. And while that may be diverse from their current staff, it might also be too narrow a definition to help meet their real needs for key talent. To focus only on one particular demographic can become limiting.

Another common issue: even if everyone in the business is on board with diversity, sometimes the actual mechanics of interviewing new talent can erode the focus on those goals. To say we’re all in with diversity is one thing. But to actually practice hiring for diversity is something else entirely. It can be more difficult than it sounds.

How can businesses increase response rates from a diverse audience?

At Versique, we have a strong focus on staffing for diversity. We’ve been able to more effectively increase the response rate from diverse candidates by using a variety of methods:

LinkedIn Filtering

One common tool at our disposal is with LinkedIn Recruiter. By tinkering with the various filters, your business could find more applicants just by following a hunch of where to look. Businesses in the IT and Tech industry who’ve historically struggled with locating more diverse talent might find better results by adjusting LinkedIn’s search filters. Focusing on HBCU schools with tech programs is a good place to start.

But using filters to locate candidates requires a bit of skill, especially in how you approach the candidate. A savvy LinkedIn user can usually tell when you’re filtering or using specific words to find them. They can tell you’re more interested in looking to fill that diversity requirement than to hire them for their skillset. Understandably, that can be a real turnoff to many candidates.

We get it – there can be a rush to meet diverse staffing needs, and some businesses might lose perspective of what’s important: keeping it authentic. Take the time and do the research. Businesses that follow up with only the candidates who are a genuine match will get the best results. It might take a little more work, but it’ll pay off in the long run.

Loosening the Job Description

Sometimes it’s better to avoid posting jobs with an overly strict job description. Businesses that avoid relying heavily on the job description might attract more applicants who would otherwise self-select out, thinking erroneously that they’re unqualified for the role. One key strategy is to pick and choose a few key details from the job description and include those details in the initial interview. Keeping it light as in, “Here are just some fun details about the position…” And so on.

Videos

We love seeing businesses post creative videos about their open positions. Creating videos can be especially beneficial for smaller companies that don’t have large marketing budgets. One of the best things about videos is they can be quick and easy – a roundtable discussion or a hiring team just getting together and sharing thoughts. Videos are great for those companies who are less interested in selling the company and more interested in engaging key talent and bringing credibility to their brand.

Multi-Purpose Candidates for Multiple Positions

Often, a candidate might feel they’re not a good fit for a position they find. But what about companies with several openings? Maybe that candidate might not be a good fit for the one role they were interviewing for, but encouraging them to apply to other positions could reveal a quality fit. Additionally, encouraging candidates to apply for other roles could be an effective tactic in preventing quality talent from self-selecting out of the application process altogether.

Higher Level of Assistance

At Versique, we’ve seen many applicants respond well when we’re just frank with them. We want to know what they need in the application and interviewing process, what’s important to them. Many candidates shy away from aggressive negotiations, and that might be keeping them from following up on many positions. At Versique, we want to be an advocate for our applicants. We want them to know we’ll fight for them, and get them a fair wage, and can help them with their other needs as well. 

Empathy

Hiring for diversity is a delicate balance: nobody wants to be a commodity. Your business may be very focused on hiring for diversity while, at the same time, running the risk of further disenfranchising minorities by turning them into a commodity. We’ve found a good rule of thumb is to locate the candidate with savvy search methods but follow up with the person and their specific skill set. It’s all part of a higher focus on the candidate experience

What has worked to improve non-traditional hiring gaps?

The workload of sourcing and engaging diverse candidates can be overwhelming. How do businesses succeed without industrializing the process and losing the human touch? How do you keep things real and genuine?

  • Delegation: Often, just sorting through candidates can be time-consuming. If we can tap sourcers to help us parse through application buckets, that can free up a lot of time.
  • Support: Be clear with leadership. What are your needs in sourcing and hiring more diverse employees? 
  • Advocate for diverse leadership: More diverse leadership will often understand the goals (and struggles) of hiring for diversity better and can be a valuable resource for strategy. 
  • Branding: Candidates of all backgrounds are influenced by branding. When candidates experience a memorable and consistent brand, they’re much more likely to click through and investigate.
  • The Rooney Rule: Number’s matter. Even though it might have been a clunky tool developed in the NFL, the Rooney Rule got results. The facts are, when businesses make a concerted effort to include diversity in their lineup of applicants, diversity will follow. Again, use with discretion. We call this “clunky” because the Rooney Rule is better used as a guideline than a hard rule to follow. 

Our Biggest Takeaway

Some of the main takeaways here are concrete steps businesses and hiring managers can take to:

  • Source underrepresented candidates with tech-savvy methods like LinkedIn filters.
  • Use empathy. Source the candidate, but follow up with the person and their specific skill set.
  • Create a better candidate experience. Treat talent with equity and value during the application process.
  • Avoid making job descriptions front and center to prevent candidates self-selecting out of the application process.
  • Review your job requirements to ensure they’re not overly strict.
  • Lean heavily on your company’s brand and culture to attract talent. 
  • Keep things genuine, creative, fun and loose. That is a potent strategy.

Partner with a staffing agency committed to meeting the demands for diversity

Businesses have enough on their plate. The last thing they need are more steps to ensure their pool of candidates are qualified and can meet ever-changing industry demands such as diversity. That’s why partnering with industry experts in staffing can make the difference: when you delegate to the specialists, you can focus on building your brand, developing your culture, and further strengthening your workforce to become a model for success in your industry. 

Contact the staffing experts at Versique today to learn more about how we can help. Versique has practice areas specializing in: Sales, Executive Search, Banking, Demand Generation and Marketing,  IT, HR, and Engineering & Operations, and more. 

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