4 Tips For Recruiting at Hispanic-Serving Institutions

When recruiting at HSIs, understand how to connect with students in an authentic and inclusive way.

Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) are not only educational centers for Hispanic and Latinx students – they’re cultural centers, too. These are schools with 25% or more Hispanic and Latinx enrollment, and offer curriculum and programs centered around students’ heritage. Students may choose these institutions because they’re located close to home, cost-friendly, or because they offer an inclusive experience that non-HSIs do not. 

While recruiting at HSIs, it’s important to understand why students find these schools valuable so that you can use this insight to attract the most talented candidates – we’ve listed four tips on how to do that. 

Target HSIs based on program strengths.

As of 2019, nearly two-thirds of all Hispanic and Latinx undergraduates were enrolled in the 539 HSIs across the U.S. These numbers may be overwhelming, so it’s a good idea to target HSIs based on program strengths. 

Over a dozen HSIs are ranked in the top 100 schools for programs like Business, STEM, Computer Science, Liberal Arts, and more. These programs also have Hispanic and Latinx organizations to help further students’ careers in these fields. Examples include:

It’s also important to note that HSIs have higher graduation rates for Hispanic and Latinx students, according to Higher Education Today, which means these programs produce high-performing candidates.

Be aware of the challenges first-generation students face.

The Hispanic and Latinx student population at HSIs include adult learners, non-English speakers, and immigrants, and about 48% of Hispanic and Latinx students are first-generation students, according to a 2018 study. 

Being a first-generation graduate comes with its own set of challenges, so it’s important for recruiters to be familiar with them if they want to create meaningful relationships with students. Some of these challenges include:

  • Not having any professional connections to help land job interviews. 
  • Not being able to afford relocation costs or unpaid internships. 
  • Having to face unconscious bias during interviews.
  • Not getting recognition from recruiters because they don’t attend a top 50 school. 

First-generation Hispanic and Latinx students might also come from predominantly Spanish-speaking homes where parents are unable to help them with resumes and cover letters, so it’s important to have this context when considering students’ applications and even approach to interviewing – be sure to evaluate candidates based on their ability to do a job, rather than subjective judgements like candidate ‘polish.’

Connect with campus organizations and multicultural centers. 

Emerging HSIs are institutions with 15% to 24% Hispanic and Latinx student enrollment, and there are 352 of them in the U.S. as of 2019. Some of these emerging HSIs are actually among the top 20 schools in the country, like New York University and University of California, Berkeley. Recruiters can look to these schools as a source of diverse talent, but should have the context that these schools might not have as strong cultural programs as HSIs with higher percentages of Hispanic and Latinx students. 

In order to form more authentic connections with students, connect with multicultural centers, and reach out to local campus leaders of Hispanic and Latinx organizations, like Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), or Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting, as well as organizations local to each individual campus. The leaders of these programs on campus are working to help their members achieve academic excellence and achieve their professional goals – so connect with these organizations to get your career opportunities in front of the right students.

Make sure your recruitment messaging is genuine and inclusive. 

If you’re targeting HSIs with the intention of hiring Hispanic or Latinx candidates, the recruitment process should give students the same level of comfort they received while attending school. Your strategy should be authentic and inclusive. 

When talking to potential candidates, be open about the percentage of Hispanic and Latinx employees at the company. If this number is low and you’d like to improve it, don’t shy away from explaining why your company values diversity and how you plan to increase representation. Does the company observe Hispanic and Latinx holidays? Since Latina women earn $0.53 for every $1 their white male counterparts earn, how do you plan to close this gender pay gap? These are questions you should be prepared to answer. Also, consider hiring a recruiter who is bilingual. For some students, English is their second language, so a conversation with a Spanish-speaking recruiter can be a much more meaningful interaction. 

It’s also important to use inclusive language while recruiting. Some Latinx people are Black and/or Indigenous, and choose to be referred to as “Latina/o/x” because they come from a Latin American country. While “Hispanic” is used to describe someone who comes from a Spanish-speaking country, it can also imply the person has Spanish European roots. Best practice is to use “Hispanic and Latinx” to include people of all genders who come from Latin American countries and Spanish-speaking countries. 

HSIs are incredibly diverse institutions with some of the best programs in the country, so the recruiting process can be complex. In order to seek out the best candidates, target schools with strong programs in your industry and reach out to leaders of campus organizations. When it comes time to speak to students directly, showcase how you’re working to create a diverse and inclusive culture. Make students feel like the workplace they’d be entering into is just as welcoming and supportive as the campuses they’ve grown to love. 

Want more tips for recruiting at Hispanic-Serving Institutions? Download our guide here.


Ready to learn more?

Book a demo to learn why leading employers rely on RippleMatch to efficiently hire the right talent and build diverse teams.

Cindy Loggins

Global Head of University Recruiting & Programs

"Centralizing everything on RippleMatch reduced our overall applicant review time by 70%."

Ebonee Bradley

University Recruiter

"With one click of a button, I can get tons of great candidates from underrepresented groups."