27 Minute Read

CTRL ALT SOURCE: Building a Diverse Talent Pipeline

85% of multinational corporations believe diversity is crucial to innovation in the workplace.

Great. Fantastic. I know we’re all here because we just love innovation, whatever the heck that means. But more importantly, we’re here because the job we do, YOU do, is one that brings the right people to the table at the right time. And that friends, is a business transaction. So let’s taco bout that.

#DYK Companies with ethnic diversity outperform less diverse companies by 35%? Read THIS: Click To Tweet

Crunch these numbers:

  • Companies with gender diversity outperform less diverse companies by 15%
  • Companies with ethnic diversity outperform less diverse companies by 35%
  • For every 10% increase in racial and ethnic diversity on the senior executive team, company earnings in the US rise 0.8%

Unfortunately, Deloitte found that “diversity and inclusion” was consistently reported (2014) as one of the least important issues on leaders’ minds when compared to other HR matters. Why? As it turns out, 41% of respondents working within the Fortune 1000 claimed a busy schedule was the culprit behind stalled diversity initiatives.

So it’s up to YOU. Diversity sourcing techniques must happen before the organization can reach diversity goals.

Candidate Personas

Candidate personas are one of the most important things you can have while sourcing. We work with companies who don’t even have diversity as part of their top issues and they rarely (if ever) have candidate personas they use to source and contact candidates.

That is dumb. Without personas, you cannot segment your market and you can’t answer the questions you need to answer in order to reach out to the right people, in the right way.

Building a candidate persona for recruitment is just like building a buyer persona in marketing. The same rules apply as they rely heavily on research and common sense to understand the target audience.

Many employers target candidates without defining what really interests or pushes them away. If you’re recruiting for a job in any field, gathering broad demographics is not enough.

A candidate persona is a “fictional representation of your ideal hire for a specific role. These are based on as much real data as possible, along with educated guesses about experience, goals, motivations and concerns.”

Therefore, identifying the typical characteristics like age, education and past work experience isn’t going to cut it. To build a successful candidate persona that hones in on key identifiers of your perfect candidate, you must look past the basics.

Candidate personas, like buyer personas, need to focus on three things to be effective:

  • Who this person is
  • What they do all day
  • What issues keep them up at night

While this is far from a complete picture of building out your candidate persona, it helps get you partway to the next step, which is segmenting your audience.

Some of the classic methods of market segmentation include:

  • Geographic – where are they located in terms of region, metropolitan area, rural or suburban or urban?
  • Demographic – what are their defining characteristics such as age, income, education, religion, ethnicity, family size, etc.?
  • Motivational – what do they want from your opportunity? From you?
  • Behavioral – what do they do when it comes to career, jobs, recruiter interaction, etc.?
  • Psychographic – what are the defining aspects of their lifestyle, such as hobbies, activities, interests, values?

Casting Call: Picture your new hire as if they were in a movie. What would their perfect onscreen doppleganger do? What kind of attitude would they have? Most importantly where are they RIGHT NOW? Stuck in a dead end job? Desperate for leadership experience and focus? Feeling overlooked at a safe but unfulfilling job? How old are they? What level of education do they have? Who do they report to? How are their results measured?

Getting Started on Your Candidate Persona

Keep in mind that creating candidate personas does not mean succumbing to stereotypical tendencies, but it does mean identifying behaviors and pain points in their personal and professional lives. Ask questions like these of your target candidate pool when building your personas:

  •      What motivates your candidate?
  •      What are they looking for in an employer?
  •      What are their hobbies and interests?
  •      What kind of work/life balance benefits them the best?
  •      What challenges stem from their upbringing?
  •      What are their long term professional and personal goals?
  •      What objections may they have to working in your industry or company?
  •      What life-stage are they currently in? What milestones have they met or what milestones do they expect in their future?

Keep in mind this can’t be discriminatory, but if having a family is important to your target candidate, then highlight the great benefits your company offers to make their work/life balanced.

Forensic Evidence: Once you’ve created a sketch of the persona, go through LinkedIn profiles to see what his or her colleagues do, read, how long they’ve been in a certain position, what groups they’re in, the works. This can really help you figure out what appeals to them. It can also give you solid insight into their retention numbers and what sort of recommendations ideal candidates might receive. You can get an idea of schools these folks went to, what kind of hobbies they might have and more. I always use an amalgamation of traits to get a good picture.

Find out what @marenhogan has to say in building awesome candidate personas: Click To Tweet

How Do You Gather This Information?

Create a survey using Survey Monkey or QZZR that you can send out to your personal or professional network to gather data. You may seek resources in the most unlikely places… For example, your little brother who is on active duty with an extensive network of new veterans or your cousin Laura who is a stay at home mom with a college degree and looking for remote work are real-life resources you can use to draw up a persona draft.

Try This: Don’t be afraid to post to your personal Facebook or Twitter and ask your friends if they know anyone who fits a brief description of your targeted talent pool. The more people you can recruit for information, the better.

What Does All of the Information Tell You?

Look for common answers and develop a way to organize trends for each category. If the position you’re hiring for is a desk job, but the candidate you’re targeting is a military veteran with a bachelor’s degree who doesn’t want a desk job then your recruitment messaging needs to focus on the other parts of the job that don’t require desk work.

Try This: To best organize your candidate personas (and all of the personality details mentioned above), try using an outline format or bulleted list.

Write the script: This is the fun part. Try to figure out what makes them tick, use the info gleaned from people like them to gauge whether they listen to Spotify or Pandora, value work-life balance over money or are due for a move in the next six months. Does this person get along with superiors or might they want to work alone? Ask yourself anything, and then attempt to answer it. I give our personas a name. I try to imagine where they grew up, what is valuable to them and then fill in what channels are most likely to reach them wherever they are (online or IRL).

Candidate Persona Title

○      Personal

○      Lifestage

○      Background/ Upbringing – Morals

○      Background/ Upbringing – Challenges

○      Work/Life Balance Needs

○      Personal Goals

○      Professional

○      Workforce Expectations

○      Workplace Expectations

○      Professional Goals

THIS is the first step to ensuring every point of the recruiting process keeps the candidate in mind. It’s especially important when reaching out to candidates, scheduling social recruitment messaging, creating job advertisements and building any recruitment messaging out in general.

Now let’s get into the nitty-gritty of creating personas:

At RBM, we create them in the very beginning of strategy development which provides reference materials for decisions. When there’s confusion or pushback, we point back to them to be sure the candidate is at the foundation of our decision. We aren’t always right, but we always have confidence that the final product actually considers the hire we want. It’s crucial to make these first so your content and that’s everything that hits the job seeker’s eyeballs, is written FOR THEM.

Boolean: HBCU, Names, Pronouns, Associations, Surnames, Sororities/Fraternities,

Real Life: Another thing – because no one told me this early in my career: Yes, you can join and/or participate in the National Association of Black Accountants if you are not black nor an accountant. You can walk next to your company’s float in the Pride Parade and be heteronormal. You can go to a women’s networking event by yourself and be a guy.

Skill Assessment & Blind Screening

While the resume can provide skills and experience information, it can be difficult to retain applicant anonymity while simultaneously ensuring the documents’ integrity and accuracy.

GapJumpers, for example, requires job seekers to solve skills-based challenges to evaluate performance and knowledge. Considered a “blind audition,” the results focus on performance and don’t give any insight into who the individual is. Similarly, Blendoor, a mobile job matching app, hides candidates’ names, photo, age, and dates to avoid unconscious bias.

Employer Branding

Simply attracting more diverse candidates is a challenge organizations face. In a Glassdoor survey, 61% of users reported reading company reviews and ratings before making a decision to apply.

Sites like InHerSight and FairyGodboss are female-focused review sites that allow job seekers to see how a company’s previous and current employees rank them for issues pertaining to gender equality in the workplace.

62% of users in the Glassdoor report say their perception of a company improves when they see the employer respond to reviews.

Job Advertisements

First: Do my messages and the way I conduct my outreach speak only to the talent group I’m already familiar with? Create separate mini-outreach plans for every new market segment you’ve identified in the broad “underrepresented talent” pool.

Navigating job placements is no easy task when considering the candidates you want to attract. Add in the need for diversity and the process teeters on becoming overwhelming. Textio gives employers an edge in creating effective job descriptions by analyzing the existing text and pointing out biased language.

Unitive helps attract a broader range of candidates by focusing on the structure of job postings. The service also helps the employer focus on specific qualifications to structure a job interview to avoid interview bias. Of course, the “show don’t tell” rule applies for candidates as well. Sparc allows organizations to showcase their diverse workforce and environment by using short videos.

Matching Systems

Entelo, on the other hand, focuses attention on matching companies to candidates from underrepresented groups. Jopwell helps foster relationships between top companies and Black, Hispanic, and Native American students and professionals.

In 2015, 67% of active and passive job seekers admitted a diverse workforce was important to them when evaluating companies and job offers.

Problems and Solutions Section

Problem: Your workforce lacks diversity

Breaking it down: Considering only 14% of the workforce is either Hispanic or African American, organizations need to analyze candidate information to better assess diversity initiatives. Often, diversity starts with sourcing efforts. You can, however, use candidate data analysis to prevent diversity issues in the workplace.

Ideas to use: Use consumer marketing data and referral programs to build out your diversity efforts. Or start campus recruiting programs in areas you’ve not frequented before.

Problem: Diversity candidates drop out of the process

Breaking it down: It’s possible that sourcers are doing their jobs and bringing a wide variety of people to interview at your company but for some reason they keep refusing your offers or dropping out of the interview process.

Ideas you can use: Identify where people leave the process. Trying to hire more women? Perhaps the issue is they don’t have time to wait through a 45 day interview process. Looking to hire people of color? Look to your interviewers for biased questions or use a video screening service to ensure all candidates get the same experience. Job applicants with white names needed to send about 10 resumes to get one callback; those with African-American names needed to send around 15 resumes to get one callback.

#1. Up the Ante on Diversity Branding. As diversity issues are being put to the test in what has been referred to as the New Civil Rights Movement, everyone’s actions, especially employers, are being put under the microscope. For this reason, employers would be wise to integrate diversity into their employer brand. Ways employers can integrate diversity into their branding include:

    • Build up diversity content on the Careers Page by including things like a diversity mission statement, diversity images and any diversity awards.
    • Use social media to spread the word about your diversity efforts. Share pictures from any diversity events, anything that shows what kind of efforts the company is making.
    • Update print materials to embody a diversified company. This could include workforce demographic statistics, related images and information about employee resource groups.

LinkedIn – I KNOW!

A. You can pick and choose which keywords will maximize diversity sourcing efforts. Build them into your recruiter search strings to narrow down which kind of applicants you want to connect with. For example, if you want to attract female candidates, add professional women’s organizations and schools to your keyword search like “American Business Women’s Association.” To find minority candidates you could add, “LGBT in higher ed,” or, “Blacks in higher ed,” and so on.

B. Build relationships with diverse candidates by joining diverse groups on LinkedIn. After a relationship is established, you can start to post relevant jobs to the groups that most closely match the target demographic.

Establish contact with school campus groups such as sororities, organizations and clubs that embody or promote diversity. Using LinkedIn to connect shows these academic groups that this is a legitimate and professional relationship being made. Having these connections opens up a world of opportunities for collaboration. It could be in the form of directly recruiting individuals, offering your company to assist with school initiatives or simply to gain exposure and influence to a diverse audience.

#3. Breed a Culture of Diversity. Even the best diversity efforts will be lost on companies that don’t breed a workforce that invites and supports diversity. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the technology industry. In a recent study done on 716 women in the tech industry, respondents left their technical jobs for a variety of reasons like issues with maternity leave policies, flexible work issues and not enough pay to cover childcare costs.

27% of respondents cited discrimination related to their gender, race, ethnicity or sexuality as the reason they not only quit their jobs, but exited the industry altogether. In fact, 87% of all the respondents said they would never return to the tech industry. This shows that not having a culture that accepts and supports diversity doesn’t just negatively impact turnover, but damages how employers (or entire industries) are perceived by diverse workers. Ways to help nurture a receptive workforce include:

  • Diversity training that teaches employees how to embrace diversity through inclusion efforts and team dynamic exercises is critical to developing a culture of diversity. Accenture is one example of a company that covers many different elements of diversity by offering a variety of diversity training outlets that include: employee resource groups, ethnic training and cross-cultural training.
  • Unconscious bias training initiatives should be explored like Unitive, which is a technology capable of catching unconscious bias before it can do any damage. It tracks things like job descriptions, resume screenings and performance reviews as they are being created to detect biased wording and any biases that are irrelevant to whether or not the person being reviewed can do the job.
  • Reinforcement by leadership, particularly CEOs, should be made. For example, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich spoke out about a $125 million dollar investment the company is putting towards diversity initiatives saying, “You have to build the whole ecosystem.” His efforts show that the company recognizes the value in diversity, the importance of the entire organization embodying diversity, and that they are taking significant steps to remedy it.

#4. Collaborate with Colleges. Companies can partner with schools that have large minority numbers to establish a solid source of recruiting. The National Association of Colleges and Employers provides diversity resources to employers such as a list of minority institutions and diversity statistics for minority schools. Employers can seek out these groups to form meaningful and equally beneficial relationships.

Pepsico is a wonderful example of this initiative. They participate in on-campus recruiting at some of the countries most minority-permeated schools. In fact, they are lead sponsors in 5 different diversity recruiting conferences. In 2014, 35% of Pepsico’s workforce were people of color and 19% were women. Not only do they have significantly high diversity numbers (compared to other big companies anyway), but their Board of Directors is comprised of 38% women and 31% people of color. Take some hints from a company with a solid diversity strategy.

#5. Explore Emerging Recruiting Methods. As job seeker trends evolve, so do recruitment methods. Many new solutions cater not only to job seeker trends, but to diversity recruitment. Employers should consider these types of methods:

  • “Blind Interviews” are becoming more popular as a need for diversity and unbiased hiring decisions is growing. GapJumpers is a new type of job board that allows employers to recruit applicants by posting projects for them to complete before meeting them. An applicant can view all the projects and choose which one sounds like the best fit for them, all without having to see or speak to an interviewer.
  • Mobile ticketing platform company, Bytemark, recently transformed their recruiting process to be completely anonymous. Candidates have to make it through two initial interviews on instant messenger before they are brought in for a formal face to face. During these interview stages, their name isn’t even disclosed to the company.
  • Now that attitude and work values have become more heavily weighted factors when hiring, companies recognize that skills are much easier to teach than attitude. So why not focus this same principle on acquiring diverse candidates? Seek out the desired target candidates and build up diversity by training them internally for the job at hand.

My Bias is Showing… In a place like Omaha, Nebraska, it’s easy to hire people that go to the school you went to, who look like you, who get along well with you and who sound like you.

Solution: I tried a lot of ways to fix this and still haven’t, which is such a shame. According to Gallup research, diverse, engaged teams result in higher financial performance by 48% to 58%. As is often the case in diversity hiring initiatives, this comes from a sourcing issue. There just weren’t enough diverse candidates. And although I sent people through the interview process and even extended offers to some, none ever took the job.

My solution is to point my sourcing initiatives at distinctly underrepresented groups. How? By targeting clubs, groups and colleges that serve these groups and by attending career fairs where I am exposed to more applicants from diverse backgrounds (code schools, technical schools, community colleges, meetups). It’s not a perfect solution and I have not cracked the diversity ceiling yet… but I will.

Getcho Boolean On

Try these resources for pre-made Boolean strings of names, pronouns, sororities and much more by the godfather of sourcing himself, Glen Cathey.

Check out my full presentation from SourceCon below:

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