5 Ways to Recruit Diverse Talent at the Entry-Level

Find talented candidates from all backgrounds.

Research shows that the more people in a company that are from different backgrounds, races, genders, ethnicities, and sexual orientations, the better a company is at dealing with challenges, working efficiently and problem solving. This makes it imperative to build diverse teams at every level of an organization, from entry-level teams to executive leadership. While there are different strategies to achieve balanced teams, recruiting diverse candidates at the entry-level and prioritizing retention can lead to a stronger workforce as time goes on.

So what strategies should you implement to recruit diverse candidates at the entry-level? Here are five to incorporate into your early career recruiting initiatives:

1. Attend career fairs, host events, and advertise your opportunities at HBCUs, HSIs, Women’s Colleges, and Tribal Colleges.

If a diverse range of qualified candidates at the entry-level is what you’re seeking, where better to look than at some of the top Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), Women’s Colleges and Tribal Colleges? By booking a table at these school’s career fairs or hosting an on-campus event, you’re virtually guaranteed to find some talentedand eager candidates for your entry-level roles.

You can also connect with the on-campus career centers and academic advisors at these schools to establish a relationship and advertise your open opportunities. Advisors can often steer students toward companies with entry-level openings and help build your talent pipeline for years to come. Some colleges and universities even establish formal partnerships with organizations (like Google’s partnership with top HBCUs) to build a pipeline of talent directly from the classroom to the workforce.

For more information on some of the top universities to visit to increase diversity, download our 2019-2020 Campus Recruiting Guide here.

2. Advertise your open roles on job sites and listservs designed to place candidates from diverse backgrounds.

When your organization goes to post a job opening, where are you advertising? While the big search engine sites like Indeed and Monster work well for casting wide nets, using targeted sites that advertise to diverse communities are fantastic for finding a wide range of qualified candidates. Jopwell is a great resource to get your job openings in front of candidates of color. Organizations like ‘Out for Undergrad’ can help you connect with LGBTQ candidates just starting their careers. And national organizations like Society of Women Engineers and National Society of Black Engineers have online job boards for employers to post their open roles to focused sets of candidates.

3. Adjust your education requirements.

When hiring for the entry-level, education requirements are often stringent, outlining a required degree from higher education institutions, preferred colleges, and sometimes even preferred majors. This excludes candidates from different socioeconomic backgrounds, and with the rising cost of higher education, many candidates are electing to enter the workforce after high school instead of pursuing higher education. Instead of creating strict education requirements, look hard at your job descriptions and contemplate if the education gained at a college or university is really critical to success in this role. If it isn’t, add a line like “or equivalent combination of education and experience” or consider moving degree requirements to a “preferred” instead of a “required.” If a degree really is needed, be sure your group of core schools isn’t too homogenous – include public state schools and any of the schools listed in #1 to reach a wide range of candidates.

4. Write inclusive job descriptions.

When writing a job description, it’s essential to be aware of your how you’re presenting the opportunity and your company as a whole. Certain words or phrases aren’t inherently inclusive and may turn away some candidates from applying for your opportunity. In addition to crafting an effective EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) statement, you should avoid gender-specific, gender-coded, or culturally insensitive terminology, and mention inclusive perks and benefits. For more advice on writing inclusive job descriptions, read our article on the topic here.

5. Design your interview process to effectively assess candidates from all backgrounds.

Once you’ve diversified your pipeline at the top-of-the-funnel, be sure that work isn’t undone by a poorly-designed interview process.

Reduce bias in the interview process by creating defined scorecards before the interview takes place and ensure everyone who is interviewing a candidate will abide by the evaluation criteria. Your scorecards should be an agreed-upon set of criteria that help evaluate if the candidate will be able to do the job well. This should cut down on interviewers having a “gut-feeling” that they like a candidate – which could actually stem from having shared characteristics or interests – and ensure they’re evaluating candidates on the skills they bring to the table.

You should also be cognizant of the external circumstances of each candidate. Holding onsite interviews and requiring candidates to pay for their own travel and accommodations will instantly limit the candidates who can move forward in your interview process, as current college students or recent college grads with no financial support will likely struggle to cover the costs associated with the interview.

By keeping diversity and inclusion at the forefront of your entry-level hiring, you’re investing in creating better teams for years to come. Measure and evaluate your efforts throughout the process, and be sure that your emphasis on welcoming and promoting candidates from diverse backgrounds extends to your company culture as well.

Optimize your entire hiring process to reach more diverse candidates – download our report on what underrepresented candidates want in the workplace here.


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