As the world grows increasingly digital during this pandemic, businesses need more tech talent than ever to support accelerated digital transformations, remote workers, and other tech investments. Leaders were already struggling to identify and recruit talent with the processes and resources they had before COVID-19, but as demand grows, the tech skills gap is stretching even wider.
Companies’ inability to recruit the necessary talent can be traced back to a few different deficiencies.
One key problem area is simple misalignment: HR departments lack a real understanding of the skills a hiring manager is looking for. This is especially true in the tech space, where HR managers usually don’t have the technical knowledge or experience to source and identify the candidates with exactly the right skills.
Lack of essential knowledge of the technical requirements of an applicant often leads to misrepresentative job descriptions that don’t accurately outline the qualifications vital to success.
On top of that, many HR departments may have limited access to the tools and resources necessary to attract the right kind of candidates.
With internal recruitment teams often working to fill an overwhelming number of openings, they can find themselves reacting rather than creating or executing a proactive recruitment strategy. This can lead to a weak or poorly managed digital presence, such as unanswered negative Glassdoor reviews that steer people away from the company.
An Expanding Recruitment Sphere
Here’s the good news: As the pandemic has increased the demand for tech talent, the almost overnight transition to remote work for many companies has created conditions that allow for the expansion to more inclusive talent pipelines. Essentially, proximity to the office is no longer a factor in employment decisions.
Sourcing talent from anywhere is now a viable option for many tech leaders, and taking advantage of it to expand your company’s recruitment sphere can lead to a more diverse tech workforce.
For example, consider the price of rent in many metro areas. If your office is in one of these neighborhoods, you’re no longer limited to only the employees who can afford to live nearby or commute from elsewhere. As a result, your talent pool will be much bigger and full of candidates with varying backgrounds and experiences.
I should offer one caveat: When unemployment rates are high, as they currently are due to COVID-related layoffs, openings are flooded with applicants. Tech leaders may be eager to fill roles as quickly as possible, but it’s important to carefully vet candidates to ensure that they’re applying for the right reasons. You want to be sure that your next hire is fully committed to your organization’s mission rather than settling for the opportunity.
Remote work opens up more possibilities for recruiting diverse candidates, but they won’t just come to you.
You must actively strive to build a more diverse workforce. Doing so will help you not only recruit more talent by showing your intentionality around inclusivity, but also build diversity of thought for a stronger company overall.
The benefits of geographic diversity lie in gaining access to highly sophisticated, specialized, and tacit knowledge from various sources. Diversity of backgrounds extends the scope of accessible understanding and provides a company with access to new networks of wisdom, resources, and experiences. This can spur innovation substantially.
Put simply, sourcing candidates from different regions, locations, and ethnic groups will foster innovation.
It can strengthen creative thought, even collectively, as each person’s needs and perspectives can provide a different view of your products or services.
The Innovation in Diversity
The question, then, is: What recruitment strategies should tech leaders be using to close their talent gaps while building a more diverse workforce? The following are often the best places to focus your efforts.
1. Broaden your talent sourcing initiatives.
Job postings, referrals, and even recruiters can only do so much to diversify your talent pipeline geographically. Tech leaders can step up their efforts by connecting with colleges, universities, and alternative staffing partners to broaden the talent pool.
Establish meaningful inroads with community groups as well. Chambers of commerce, Black Data Processing Associates, Women in Technology, and Out in Tech are just a few organizations that can help pair your company with qualified tech professionals from diverse walks of life.
2. Establish a representative social media presence.
When candidates see your job listings, they’re likely to research your company. And considering that more than 3.6 billion people are using social media worldwide, you can bet that they’ll look up your online profiles. Your company’s presence on social media should represent your workforce and culture in a way that will intrigue and inspire any potential applicants.
You can also expand your company’s reach exponentially on social media by getting hiring managers actively involved in sharing content. According to LinkedIn research, a company’s employees have 10 times more connections than the company has followers. Even when sharing the same content, employee shares experience click-through rates twice as high as those of the company.
Besides, these types of shares add greater credibility to your company as an employer. It shows how much employees value the organization and stand behind the work you all do together, which can help attract new employees. Leverage these networks to expand your reach and grab the attention of more diverse applicants.
3. Write better job descriptions.
Instead of focusing job descriptions on qualifications and skill requirements alone, focus on creating opportunities for candidates to sell why they would be a good fit or could grow into the position. Someone might not have five years of experience in a similar role, for example, but could demonstrate the ability to learn and adapt quickly, which is equally valuable in many cases.
What’s more, focus on the language you use in job descriptions. Binary-tinged buzzwords like a ninja, rock star, champion, etc., can discourage inclusively minded applicants. For example, one study found that 44% of women surveyed would be discouraged from applying for a role with the word “aggressive” included in the job description.
4. Create opportunities for remote working.
If you’re not one of the many companies that have gone remote in response to COVID-19, it’s time to consider offering greater workplace flexibility. When it comes to career decisions, flexibility is one of the top three factors for 40% of job seekers. And remote or flexible work options can help diversify your talent pipeline, as you can draw from a nationwide candidate pool.
Beyond that, sourcing talent from other areas of the country or world has the potential to expand the market for your product. You can gather input from more diverse voices, allowing you to tailor product features to meet the needs of a wider audience.
Opening roles to other markets naturally increases a candidate pool, but it won’t automatically diversify applicants.
That responsibility rests on your diversity recruitment strategy. Look for candidates in different locations, connect with more diverse organizations, and make your job descriptions more attractive to a wider audience. It’s an excellent start to building a more diverse workforce.
Image Credit: ashish sangai; unsplash