It’s no secret that there is a shortage of diverse tech talent - but it’s not for a lack of available candidates. What is actually to blame for the lack of qualified and diverse talent? The hiring process. We’ve identified five ways to boost your talent pipeline with underrepresented people in technology and work within the long-term strategic approach of talent acquisition to drive business value and diversity and inclusion across your organization.
Look outside of a four-year degree
According to Code.org there are currently 666,534 open computing jobs nationwide while only 71,226 computer science students graduated into the workforce last year. So who are the folks filling the rest of the IT roles? Non-traditional hires who have enrolled themselves in programming bootcamps like ours, or have been self-taught. CourseReport released a report in 2017 that 80% of bootcamp graduates surveyed say they’ve been employed in a job requiring the skills learned at bootcamp, with an average salary increase of 51%.
Tech Talent South is just one example of an immersive and foundational technology training program. Our consultants are highly sought after, meticulously vetted by our team, and trained on full stack. We recruit from all across the country, various professional backgrounds, and a range of life experience and most commonly place folks into roles in Software Engineering, Data Science, .NET Development, SecDevOps, Java Development, Salesforce Administration, QA Testing, Product Management, UX/UI Design, and more. We’ve found that most people didn’t know what they wanted to do when they started out and may have ended up with high aptitude but were missing the right education and hands-on training. That’s where we fit in.
We turn recruitment into a science with over 100 hours of data, application, assessment, and experience for each of our available candidates. We allow applicants to showcase their talent and give hiring teams real insights by testing for skills required for the job during the training process.
Tech hiring giants Tesla, Apple, Google, Netflix, IBM, EY, Hilton, and Bank of America are among a few that have come out to no longer require employees to have 4-year degrees in acknowledgement that people and careers are not a one-size-fits-all journey. We shouldn't overlook a strong work ethic, talent, aptitude, and as we say in Pittsburgh - good old fashioned grit.
Remove perceived obstacles and please, stop making job descriptions 3 pages long
Things like a job title, years of experience, and unrealistic qualifications (ever seen an entry level job that requires 3-5 experience?) can cause candidates to eliminate themselves from the application process. Being mindful of language and encouraging people to apply goes a long way with opening up access.
According to LinkedIn behavioral data, Research shows that in order to apply for a job women feel they need to meet 100% of the criteria while men usually apply after meeting about 60%. Women tend to screen themselves out of the conversation and end up applying to 20% fewer jobs than men. What’s more, women are more hesitant to ask for a referral from somebody they know at the company.
Some companies include a footer in the job postings on LinkedIn that says, “Not sure you meet 100% of our qualifications? Please apply anyway!” That small call to action goes a long way in diversifying your candidate application pool and recruitment process.
Make your recruitment process more inclusive by actively searching for diverse suppliers -- bonus if they have a focus on D&I
What is a diverse supplier you ask? Broadly defined by CVM, a diverse supplier exploration program, supplier diversity is the business practice of including small- and diverse-owned businesses into a company's supply chain. Whether these diverse-owned businesses are woman-owned, minority-owned, veteran-owned or LGBTE-owned, the benefits of working with these businesses are many. Ranging from government contract incentives to a more nimble and innovative supplier chain, a strong supplier diversity program can benefit your company both from a financial and social position, and strengthen your overall brand.
We at Tech Talent South are proud to say that as a certified woman-owned business we are a diverse supplier, and keep diversity and inclusion at the forefront of all of our programs. Our talent database is 65% minority talent. We believe that providing individuals, especially those underrepresented in tech, with the necessary skills for becoming leaders in the digital workforce speeds progress toward diversity at the top. We are able to offer custom curriculum to a vetted class of candidates at no charge to the individual. This allows us to do our part in closing the diversity gap by training based on aptitude, not access.
Eliminate unconscious bias by anonymizing your applicant pool (aka blind recruitment)
At Tech Talent South we give you the option for anonymized applications (take a peek at our talent database to see what we mean), meaning that you make judgements based on performance and credibility, revealing your top candidates based on their ability, not their background. But this isn’t a technique that is exclusive to us, you can ask that your internal recruiting team follow the same structure by removing applicant names, photos, education, and any identity indicators from their resumes and cover letters.
The fact is that people from minority backgrounds are disproportionately overlooked. By recognizing that these biases exist, and acknowledging that an unconscious bias training video isn’t enough to move the needle, we can take the first steps in closing the diversity gap.
Give consistent and structured interviews and educate your team on why
If you have taken the first step to anonymizing your applicant pool, make sure that you don’t lose your work when it comes to the video or in-person interview step, which is when bias can easily creep back in. Conduct structured interviews that are consistent across applicants. A few good tips from The Center for Research on Equity and Opportunity at the University of Arizona include;
Deepen the applicant pool.
Interview more than one woman candidate and they will be evaluated more fairly (Heilman & Stopeck, 1980; Sackett et al., 1991; Valian, 1998).
Plan and allocate enough time before and after the interview to read candidate materials and write notes about each.
Allowing sufficient time for evaluations increases accuracy and reduces gender bias (Bauer & Baltes, 2002; Blair & Banaji, 1996; Martell, 1991).
Have a set of interview questions prepared in advance that relate directly to the position and be consistent – use the same set of interview questions for each candidate.
Structured criteria for decision-making result in more accurate evaluations (Martell & Guzzo, 1991).
Standardize evaluation forms and refer to them in discussions regarding candidates.
Structured processes for recording observations increase accuracy and reduce bias; writing both positive and negative comments on each candidate is beneficial (Bauer & Baltes, 2002).
Require your team members take notes during the interview process, make sure they understand the expectation and why it’s important. Collect that information and make sure you give it to your HR or Recruiting contact for proper retention.
Increased accountability reduces the effects of gender schemas and increases the accuracy in evaluations (Foschi, 1996; 2000; Foschi et al. 1994).
Tech Talent South (TTS) offers a one stop shop for flexible tech talent solutions for teams of all sizes and at all stages. Whether it’s for organizations looking for top quality talent at scale and with speed, Workforce Development initiatives, or companies looking to future proof their own employees by giving them new or advanced skills (upskilling and reskilling) - we deliver solutions that fit every need.
We offer scholarships for technology education courses such as programming and data science to underrepresented folks in tech; including Black, indigenous, people of color, women, and veterans. Our goal is to help close the diversity gap by training based on aptitude, not access.
Interested in building your skills? Download a free program overview for an upcoming course here.
Learn more about our scholarship application.
Interested in building your team? Connect with our team here.