Formerly overlooked demographic groups – older workers, visible minorities, the less educated – are today’s hottest recruitment zones, and it is important to understand how best to win in these spaces.
— By Donna Chan
It is official. According to the latest annual survey from the Conference Board, hiring is the no. 1 concern of CEOs around the globe. In Canada, where unemployment rates dropped to 5.5 percent in January 2020, connecting with fresh talent has never been more of a priority. As a result, firms are increasingly looking outside traditional recruiting frameworks and populations.
For firms expanding their talent search to new areas and new groups, what works? It is easy to waste time and money, and garner bad press for missteps. However, it is also easy enough to be smart about recruiting non-typical demographics. Here are five of the biggest trends and tactics to keep in mind.
#1 Social, Social, Social
The hype around social media is not unwarranted when it comes to hiring … especially for firms looking to hire younger workers or recruit passive candidates. According to research from Toronto employee advocacy firm PostBeyond, 73 percent of workers ages 18-34 found their last position through a social media posting. Approximately 82 percent of successful passive recruiting started on social media.
It is a massive share of the market … and growing. For 2020, PostBeyond expects that 84 percent of Canadian firms will use social media in some form for recruitment. Total absence or a poor presence in socials spaces is therefore a tactic to avoid, while taking the time to “level up” on social media recruitment tactics is a worthwhile investment.
#2 Sharing is Caring
Another major trend that helps employers reach passive candidates and formerly overlooked communities is creating and sharing content resources. Even beyond a job posting, stories from current workers, case studies of hires from specific populations, and project feature pieces help create interest in and discussion of a specific company’s opportunities.
When candidates feel uncertain about an opportunity or wonder if they would fit at an organization, they typically do extra research looking for positive stories or additional information about the company and job. Firms can leave it up to word of mouth and chance, or they can intentionally create the resources and “insider” insights they would like potential candidates to know so that they feel informed, welcome, and comfortable as a prospective new hire.
#3 Get Realistic With That Wish List
Job postings with dozens of requirements essentially function as wish lists. Yes, it would be nice to find a worker with 10 years of relevant experience, four certifications, two degrees, and total flexibility to relocate for an entry-level salary … but it is not realistic. In fact, it may be hindering any hiring, especially since indigenous, visible minority and female candidates are less likely to apply for positions where they feel less than 100 percent qualified.
Where non-traditional demographic groups feel welcome and supported, they will continue to apply and stay on the job longer than workers who feel they stand out.
What to do? Design job postings for the minimum viable candidate. Often, a small investment in on-the-job training can replace requirements for certifications or degrees. Remote work technologies expand the geographic reach of the hiring pool, and technological assistance opens the door to differently abled candidates as well. By trimming the wish list, it is possible to increase the odds of finding a candidate who can start work today and grow into a dream-come-true employee tomorrow.
#4 Be Mindful About Mentors
According to Maclean’s, mentorship is one of the biggest challenges in attracting and retaining non-traditional talent in industries that have historically been specifically gendered or stereotyped to a certain “type” of worker. Faced with workers who arrive and leave promptly, feeling unsupported, firms can understandably wish to turn away from certain talent pools. However, by adding more mentorship into the mix, companies can expand their recruitment pool and know they have a better chance of retaining the hire regardless of their background.
How strong is the impact? According to a meta-analysis by SAP of 30 years of mentorship data, having mentorship in place resulted in a 38 percent drop in turnover. Advertising the availability of mentors also attracted a statistically significant higher number of applicants of diverse backgrounds.
#5 The Color of the Collar no Longer Dictates Gender or Background
Pink collars, blue collars, white collars, grey collars … each one has a “typical” worker that comes to mind. Except in today’s markets, it pays to throw those ideas out the window.
In blue-collar trades in particular, women and visible minorities have been making serious strides. A big part of the move is economically driven – for women, work in the trades can pay 20 to 30 percent more than a typical “pink collar” role, according to data collected by Canadian Newcomer magazine.
Even with economics as a major underlying motivator, recruiters and companies can do more to lean into the potential of this shift. Industrial trades face a lean unemployment rate of just 3.4 percent, well below other industries and Canada as a whole, according to Randstad. Without fresh talent, shortages lie ahead, since more than 22 percent of the current workforce is retirement age.
According to Mandy Rennehan, who brands herself as “the Blue Collar CEO,” offering support via mentorship and other inclusive-aware programming can help both women and other non-traditional candidates succeed. Where non-traditional demographic groups feel welcome and supported, they will continue to apply and stay on the job longer than workers who feel they stand out.
In many ways, it all pulls together. Information around job openings and the quality of work life at companies can be shared at lightning speed on social media platforms, where more than 64 percent of Canadians have at least one profile. Steering the conversation by providing useful, shareable content on job options and advancement opportunities allows companies to enter the conversation. Streamlining job descriptions for the real world, providing (and advertising) mentorship, and looking beyond “typical” candidates means a broader pool of applicants and more diversity in hires.
As more diverse hires come into the workforce, they add their stories to the ongoing conversation, keeping the cycle going. It is a good thing, too. As Canada’s workforce continues to change, what is now considered “non-traditional” recruiting can easily become the new normal for the workplace of the future.