How to Effectively Hire for DEI: Tips from the YM Careers Network Recruitment Experts
Last week, we sat down with two veteran members of the YM Careers team: Tasha Sharp, Diversity Recruitment Specialist, and Erin Lewis, former Diversity Recruitment Specialist and now Customer Success Manager.
We asked them about the hurdles they’ve encountered in diversity recruiting, and what helps and hurts the most when trying to recruit diverse candidates. The following interview questions will cover:
- Advice for employers looking to hire more diverse candidates
- Assumptions recruiters make when looking for diversify
- Biggest hurdles in diversity hiring
- Tips to make your diversity initiative more successful
Tasha and Erin are working with organizations and recruiters alike, helping them to effectively achieve their diversity initiatives every day.
Read on to get the inside scoop from two professionals whose mission is to help get your jobs in front of qualified candidates from a wide range of demographics.
Q: What should I include in my job descriptions when looking for DEI candidates?
A: Watch your word choice – Use gender neutral language and avoid jargon.
ERIN says: The phrasing of words is important. Try to avoid phrases like “We need a sales rock star!!” That doesn’t resonate with all candidates because it could feel a little too aggressive. It helps a lot to keep the wording more streamlined and gender neutral.
A: Check your list of requirements – is every skill listed a must have? Could you afford to take out the “nice to have” skills to broaden your net?
TASHA says: I always ask employers, “Would you hire someone with less/different experience if they ultimately fit the role?” If they say, “yes,” I tell them to adjust the requirements to better reflect their needs. If it’s not 100% necessary, have an open mind; otherwise, you might scare away a great candidate. The person with two years’ experience could turn out better than that person with eight years!
Be flexible, where you can. Prioritize the right fit and necessary requirements to effectively attract candidates to your open opportunities.
Strict language around requirements deters disadvantaged applicants before they even start the application process. There are many people out there who won’t meet a detailed list of requirements but would still have the skills you need and be great for the job.
TASHA says: If you’re already looking for somebody in a targeted group with limited candidates, and then you start adding more specifications, you’re going to have a much harder time filling the role. So, if you can be broader with the requirements, within your niche and industry, that is how you’re going to get somebody in the door who might not have had an opportunity before.
A: Be specific about your work culture in the job description. Add context about your company to help potential applicants imagine themselves as an employee.
TASHA says: Be specific. I always tell people adding messaging about the kind of culture that your company has in the job description is particularly important; especially when you’re trying to target a diverse audience. Nobody wants to work at a place where they’re not going to be comfortable or they’re not going to fit in, especially when it comes to LGBTQ and minority candidates. If an employer has DEI programs and initiatives, add a little blurb to help it stand out as a great place to work. When someone is actively job searching and looking at so many listings, you have to do something that sets you ahead and makes you look a little bit different.
Q: What are some pro tips for hiring diverse candidates and creating a sustainable diversity initiative?
A: Ask applicants where they found your posting to learn about ROI and what kind of placement works the best for your roles in attracting diversity candidates.
Use source code with your Applicant Tracking System (ATS) when possible. HR teams can produce code that roots back to where candidates came from.
ERIN says: If companies aren’t asking, they’re not going to know if their diversity recruitment initiatives are paying off. To get the best ROI on their job postings, ask candidates questions about how they found you and why they applied.
A: Utilize a DEI team, create one if you don’t have one already, and educate your team members.
TASHA says: We are seeing more companies putting together teams to work on DEI. It’s nice to see, and it’s a long time coming. People need to start getting the information, so that they can put a strategy together.
Q: How do you overcome the hurdles in diversity recruiting?
A: A one-stop shop that is not one-size-fits-all.
Using the YM Careers Network, our team can work with any employer or job title to make a highly effective recruitment package that works for you. They know where specific jobs will resonate with the audience you’re looking for and can create custom digital strategies for you based on your specific needs. This way, you can get your postings in front of multiple diverse audiences, reaching many demographics and audiences all at once.
TASHA says: I have people that, every time they have an opportunity, will ask, “Where do you recommend, I put this?” They work with me based off my recommendations because they want to reach the right candidates.
Q: What’s a common mistake when trying to hire for diversity?
A: Don’t look for a unicorn. Look for a platform. Make your goal to improve culture and make hiring diverse candidates an ongoing initiative.
TASHA says: It can be overwhelming because diversity is so big right now. No one has all the answers. But the biggest mistake people can make is to look for a unicorn. Don’t expect to find one person that checks all your diversity boxes – a minority, woman, disabled, and a veteran. Focus on finding the right platform for recruiting diverse applicants for your niche jobs.
Q: What is a common attitude you’ve seen in employers who successfully recruit for DEI?
A: It’s not a task – it’s an opportunity.
TASHA says: When I first started doing diversity it almost seemed like a task for people, versus now having conversations with people that are more passionate about it.
A: Build from the ground up. Think long-term and big picture, with a goal of a diverse workforce in the future as well as the present.
ERIN says: I had good conversations with companies wanting to get an actual diverse applicant pool instead of just targeting diverse candidates for one big executive position. Often, employers want to go straight for diversifying big roles like CEO, which is great, but can also create long-term success by diversifying their company on a broad scale when starting out with early career roles.
The key is understanding the need to develop a diverse talent pool from the ground up and have multiple diverse people in their organizations, instead of one person checking multiple boxes.
TASHA says: Focus on what you’re trying to improve – big picture – rather than what you’re trying to find. What are you trying to achieve? Focus on your internal goals and initiatives, rather than what you’re getting.
ERIN says: Absolutely. It’s the long term, big picture goal of a diverse workplace with a culture of inclusion. I think that that conversation has gotten better over the last four years.
A FEW TAKEAWAYS: What we learned from our Diversity Recruitment Experts
- The goal is to make it easier for candidates to get in the door who may not have had the same opportunities
- Make it easy for them to find you, and to imagine themselves as a part of your team
- Know the difference between “ideal” and “necessary” when it comes to listing requirements
- Be transparent about your workplace culture and your goals/initiatives for diversity
- Hiring for diversity is not a check box initiative
- Realize that one candidate is not going to “solve diversity” for you