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Recruitment in the Roaring 2020s

A Diverse Talent Acquisition Strategy Fit For a New Decade

If we’ve learned anything about the world of work in the “roaring 2020s” it’s that the future is anything but predictable. But with changing consumer demographics and evolving employee expectations, one thing is for sure — successful talent management in the new decade won’t look much like it did in the last one.

Yet despite the seismic shifts in the modern workforce, many employers are still firing from the hip when it comes to recruiting. And some are still operating with outdated recruitment processes that don’t exactly roll out the red carpet for individuals from diverse backgrounds. 

If you want a successful future for your company, both of those things will need to change. In this guide, we’ll help you stop coasting with recruitment with clear and practical steps to help you instantly modernize your hiring process and build a strong pipeline of highly qualified candidates.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • What is diversity recruiting?
  • What is talent acquisition?
  • Why it’s more important than ever to bring the two together
  • A step-by-step guide for a diverse recruiting strategy

What is diversity recruiting?

an arm with a diversity tattoo handing a puzzle piece

To begin, let’s get clear on what diversity recruiting isn’t.

Diversity recruitment is not quota-based affirmative action, reverse racism, or an anti-meritocracy. 

Diversity recruiting is the process of welcoming individuals from all backgrounds and identities into the applicant pool for an open role so an employer can choose the best candidate possible from a pool that is representative of the available talent in the workforce.

“Diversity recruitment is not a blanket strategy to hire only Black and Latinx people into your organization,” says Jennifer Tardy. As an experienced diversity recruiting consultant, official LinkedIn partner, and proud member of The Society for Diversity (where she also serves as a career coach to its members), Jennifer has heard nearly every misconception out there.

The way she defines it, “Diversity recruiting increases representation where there’s been historical underrepresentation in the workplace.”

In her video on the 5 Common Misconceptions about Diversity Recruiting, she explains that for some organizations, diversity recruitment could mean increasing representation in the number of men or veterans in your talent pool. For others, it may mean more women of color in leadership roles.

The important thing is to know what diversity looks like in your organization, and take firm steps to ensure your diversity recruiting strategy reflects your company’s unique needs.

And for the record, diversity recruiting done right does not stand in the way of a meritocracy. “It actually just levels the playing field so that individuals have fair access to demonstrate their ability and to be selected on their knowledge, skills, and abilities only,” explains Jennifer.

What is talent acquisition?

an arm with a "talent" tattoo handing a puzzle piece

Now that we’re clear on what diversity recruiting is — and what it isn’t — let’s turn our attention to another commonly overlooked area of HR: Talent acquisition.

Talent acquisition (TA) is a proactive approach to finding skilled and qualified candidates with a focus on long-term talent attraction. Instead of waiting for a role to open then recruiting to fill it, companies forecast future hiring needs and work to build a pipeline of engaged candidates to fill positions as they arise.

In the past, TA strategies were typically used for companies with niche or executive-level hiring needs. But with 11.3 million open jobs, record-high quit rates, and unprecedented employee disengagement, every company could stand to benefit from a more proactive approach to finding great talent.

Why is it more important than ever to bring diversity recruiting and talent acquisition together?

two hands putting puzzle pieces together

Now we’re clear on what diversity recruiting and talent acquisition processes actually are and how each of these strategies can help you find the qualified talent you need, let’s take a closer look at some of the latest data on why the real hiring magic comes down to an employer’s ability to marry the two. ✨

For starters, today’s customers (and candidates) don’t look like yesterday’s.

  • Gen Z accounts for 25% of the population and is 48% diverse, making them the most diverse population yet.
  • The generation following them, Gen Alpha is shaping up to be even more diverse
  • For the first time in US history, the white population in the US has fallen below 60%

That’s not all. Today, less than half of US children belong to what has long been considered a “traditional” home, made up of two heterosexual parents. And the US now has the second largest number of Spanish speakers globally, surpassing both Colombia and Spain. 

Of course, major demographic shifts aren’t the only factors fuelling a greater call for diversity. 

There’s also increasing evidence on the tangible benefits for businesses.

  • Companies with ethnically diverse workforces have been shown to experience 36% higher returns.
  • The same McKinsey report found a 48% increased likelihood of outperformance separating the most from the least gender-diverse companies.
  • 75% of organizations with an inclusive frontline decision-making team will exceed financial targets. 

Last, but in absolutely no way least, today’s employees are disillusioned with traditional working practices.

Modern workers want companies with a diverse and inclusive culture. 

  • Nearly 76% of job seekers consider diversity and inclusion a top priority when evaluating companies and job offers.
  • Meanwhile, 69% of employers report difficulty filling jobs — the highest in more than a decade.
  • It is predicted that there will be a talent shortage of more than 85 million people — roughly the population of Germany — by 2030.

That impending talent shortage could result in approximately $8.5 trillion in unrealized revenues according to experts at Korn Ferry. And yet, reports show that over 80% of companies are merely going through the motions with diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB), without holding themselves accountable to a clear DEIB policy.

If you want to position your organization to not only make it through these challenges unscathed but actually thrive in the new decade of talent management, you’re going to need to start putting policy into practice. It all starts by scrapping the hiring by fire processes and embracing a strong talent acquisition strategy, supported by clear diversity recruiting processes.

A step-by-step guide for a diverse recruiting strategy

an arm flexing muscles

Clearly, a diverse workforce helps boost productivity, profits, and employee engagement — but only when you hire the right people, the right way.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the practical ways you can move from a place of ad hoc hiring to a strategic talent acquisition strategy that helps you consistently attract highly-qualified candidates from all walks of life.

But before we dive into the steps, let’s touch on some quick policy-level housekeeping.

Here are some of the key questions to think about as you set out to revamp your strategy:

The truth is, great recruiting work is never truly done. Still, you can’t know when you’ve arrived at the next milestone, if you don't know what that looks like first. 

Take the time to set a clear vision for where you want to go and a clear benchmark of where you are now. Once that’s mapped, it’ll be a whole lot easier to see exactly which steps will take you from A to B. 

Got it? Great. Now, let’s dive into the nuts and bolts of creating a TA strategy fit for a whole new era.

Step 1: Spruce up your employer brand

a person watering another person like a plant

A powerful career site goes a long way in attracting a steady stream of qualified candidates into your recruitment pipeline. If it’s been a while since you’ve updated your career page, there’s no time like the present. 

To attract the best possible candidates, make sure your career site includes:

  • Your company mission statement
  • A powerful diversity statement 
  • Any existing data on your workforce demographics
  • Examples of some of your best or most impactful work as a company
  • Real examples or employee stories showing how you approach DEIB
  • Employee testimonials sharing their experiences with your culture
  • Diverse and representative photos and imagery
  • Employer awards and rankings

Employee reviews are also an increasingly important part of every employer brand. If you haven’t yet, reach out to your employees and ask if they’d be willing to rate and review your company on sites like Glassdoor.

Step 2: Audit your job descriptions

 a person sitting at their desk that is on top of their chair

By now, you’ve probably heard the research on how words like “hacker”, “ninja”, or “rockstar” subconsciously deter women from applying for an open role. Still, you'd be surprised how many companies don't take the time to update their job ads.

When advertising your open role, it’s critical to use inclusive, non-gendered job postings that will recruit the best possible candidates into your recruitment pipeline. 

You’ll also want to:

  • Provide a clear salary range
  • Make sure your job descriptions clearly communicate your values
  • Add language that clarifies the behaviors these values imply
  • Focus on must-have skills (avoid skills-cramming)
  • Add a clear and compelling EEO or Fair Hiring Statement
  • Offer flexible benefits (think beyond ping pong tables to include work from home options, parental leave, childcare, comfortable workspaces, and more)

Excuses like the pipeline myth are no longer acceptable to today’s employees. 

Make sure you know the best job boards, and where to post jobs to attract diverse candidates to create a candidate pool of talent that is truly representative of the modern workforce.

Step 3: Make employee referrals targeted and transparent

hands holding binoculars with the word proactive inside the lens

It's no secret that employee referrals are a great way to recruit top talent.

They’re cost effective. They’re easy to access. They’re known for bringing in highly-qualified candidates.

But they aren't perfect. While setting up an employee portal and asking your awesome existing people to refer more awesome people is a great way to fill your pipeline, employee referrals could actually be the blind spot hurting your diversity efforts.

To make sure your employee referrals help (and don’t hurt) your hiring goals:

  • Educate employees on what representation is and why it matters
  • Be clear about the parts of the company that are in need of greater diversity
  • Challenge employees to think as broadly as possible about their referral networks

Depending on the size of your org or the percentage of employees hired by referral, you may also want to add a non-discrimination policy to your employee referral program or consider limiting the amount of compensation given for successful referrals.

Step 4: Try blind hiring

a woman with big purple glasses

No one should have to change their name from José to Joe just to get a job.

That’s where the right approach to blind hiring can help make your recruiting process more inclusive. To be clear, when we say 'blind hiring,' we mean anonymizing applications by removing names, photos and other personal information from resumes.

With these common unconscious bias-triggers out of the way, you can focus on the qualifications that go beyond “culture fit” to achieve genuine culture add with every new hire.

Here are some questions to think about as you screen the right candidates in:

  • What kind of candidate do we want for the business? 
  • What skills, traits and characteristics do your top-performers have in common?
  • What skills, traits and characteristics does your ideal candidate have?
  • Does everyone on the hiring team agree on what an ideal candidate “looks like”?

Today, there are plenty of cloud-based recruiting solutions that can help you embrace blind hiring automatically by blocking identifying information on incoming applications and using a combination of skills assessments and behavioral interview questions to pinpoint highly qualified candidates.

If you’re already a Breezy user, you can launch a blind hiring process with our Bryq integration in just five quick steps.

Step 5: Opt for structured interviewing

a comment bubble with lots of math equations

There’s no way to sugarcoat it, ad hoc interviewing is woefully ineffective at predicting on-the-job performance. 

On the flip side, by using the same set of questions for every candidate, structured interviews can help remove bias from the interview process and ensure a more efficient, objective hiring process.

Here are a few things to include as part of a structured interview process:

  • A review of the questions from all members of the hiring team 
  • Interview questions that are based on the actual job
  • A fair and consistent scorecard or grading system

The trick with structured interviews is to get input from all the right people, without creating an awkward experience or administrative nightmare for candidates

If possible, try using your applicant tracking system to attach your interview guides directly to a candidate's profile and/or calendar invite so your team has everything they need to ask the right questions in the right order during the actual interview.

Depending on the recruiting software you’re using and the number of recruiters and hiring managers on your team, you can even save a step by copying interview questions straight to your scorecard and automating your internal chasing up to make sure every member of the hiring team provides their feedback quickly. 

Step 6: Consider fair chance hiring practices

a fingerprint presented as a maze

Around 1 in 4 hiring managers refuse to hire individuals with a criminal record. But with 30% of the US population having one, that’s a whole lot of talent to be missing out on.

Clearly, companies looking to deepen their talent pools by embracing fair chance hiring have a lot to gain. Start by banning the box from your application process and establishing a fairer background check process for incoming candidates.

Here are a few simple interview tips to help you win with fair chance hiring:

  • Don’t ask for details you don’t need to know. Keep your questions laser-targeted to the role in question.
  • Be respectful. Don’t push for details and make sure you offer opportunities for them to display any positives they’ve encountered through their experiences, no matter how different from your own.
  • Let the candidate know that your company has a commitment to diversity hiring. Explain that if they encounter any challenges once they’re in the role, the organization will be there to support them. 

Step 7: Make fair job offers

graph showing the rise in income based on the cost of living

Recent research has revealed that providing salary ranges on job descriptions makes it more likely for Gen Z candidates to apply. Some 62% of Gen Z workers said they’d be more likely to apply to a company if the company had a commitment to equal pay. 

In other words, don’t put all your energy into creating an inclusive talent acquisition strategy, only to drop the ball at the job offer.

Here are some ways to get or stay on track with fair pay:

  • Track your existing recruiting stats to see how you align to the pay ranges per role and industry
  • Audit your workforce to make sure compensation is fair among employees in the same role
  • Keep yourself accountable by transparently tracking your compensation across teams

And whatever you do, don't let unconscious bias influence your job offers. Make sure you're offering equal pay for equal work and not penalizing someone based on characteristics that have nothing to do with the job.

No time like the present

a person skating with a long net flying

In just a couple of years, the talent market has changed substantially. As an employer, the future of your company depends on its ability to stay competitive with the wants and needs of modern workers.

So take the time to plan your talent strategy with the same passion and attention to detail you afford to sales, marketing and the other “sexier” parts of the business. And don’t be afraid to replace stale talent processes with fresh new approaches that will bring you more of the right candidates.

Finally, remember that hiring is just one step on a long path to creating a diverse and inclusive workplace where innovation runs high and everyone feels welcome. But more often than not, it’s the best place to start your journey. 

Are you ready?

The future of hiring starts now.

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