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How to Build Sustainable Talent Pipelines That Support Diversity

This is a guest blog post by Sar Jia-Sing Warner a Career Developer at DevBootcamp. If you'd like to learn more about diversity recruiting strategies check out our ebook 3 Diversity Recruiting Strategies: Lessons from Lyft's Talent Acquisition Team

By now we’ve all heard that a commitment to a diverse workforce requires sourcing outside of the Stanfords, MITs, and CMUs of this world. But where do we look? And how do we scale this process? After working as a career developer at DevBootcamp I got to see the good and the bad of how talent acquisition teams source for roles in competitive markets.

Here are five things I’ve learned about building a diverse and sustainable talent pipeline:

1. EXPAND your sourcing strategy – Many mid-sized to large companies have “University” teams focused on recruiting students from four-year colleges and universities. Some University teams have recently expanded their efforts to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs)  in order to source “non-traditional talent.” While sourcing from HBCUs is long overdue, the name “University” automatically excludes a host of potential hiring sources not limited to: community colleges, bootcamps, nonprofits/community organizations, and the self-taught. These non-University groups are not commonly thought of as talent centers, but are producing underrepresented talent exponentially faster than Computer Science programs.

2. CHOOSE your talent partner – You could choose a group with whom you have an existing relationship (perhaps a company at which employee volunteers or mentors), teaches the skillsets you’re looking for, or simply has a mission that aligns with your company’s values. Make sure your relationship is mutually beneficial and that you both consider yourselves cultivators, and not harvesters of talent. Recently, Lyft has partnered with the Hispanic Heritage Foundation to advance workforce diversification.

3. ENGAGE with the Organization/Group – Speaking about your company to a group of aspiring candidates and demonstrating how you value your employees, explaining your work processes, or simply walking through your organizational structure are simple ways to generate interest and drive applications. You can also collaborate with program managers or other stakeholders to shortlist a group of candidates.

4. INTERVIEW Candidates – Recognize that conventional hiring practices inherently filter out “non-traditional” talent. Whiteboarding questions unrelated to day-to-day duties, interviewing panels of cis, White, male interviewers, and (unpaid) coding challenges that take more than a few hours to complete each contribute to a cycle of homogenous candidates and stagnant ideas. Don’t lower your hiring bar, instead, break your bar and make it out of something else. You’ll find no shortage of talent.

5. HIRE & DEVELOP Your Talent – Once you make offers to candidates your job isn’t done. In the same way that they commit to your company, your values, your product, you must commit to them. There should be opportunities for personal and professional development, mentorship, clear expectations and review processes. You’ll realize the value in their “non-traditional” background, and want to go back to that organization to hire again. In a few short months they’ll be ready to speak on your company’s behalf to source more non-traditional engineers.

These five steps are only necessary when you’re working with a new hiring partner. Once you’ve established a relationship with an organization, you only need to complete steps 3-5, or even 4-5 using direct referrals.

A few notes:

  • Don’t focus on volume at first. If you only get one hire out of the first partnership, this is still a win. If the first hire doesn’t work out, don’t give up. Try again.
  • Document all your processes so that this can be run by anyone, with any organization.
  • Iterate! Filling different roles and working with different organizations will require some adaptability.

If you found this post relevant please check out our ebook 3 Diversity Recruiting Strategies: Lessons from Lyft's Talent Acquisition Team

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