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March 09, 2021 Practice Points

Creating Opportunity Through Alternative Recruiting Channels

A few methods to refine your firm’s recruiting methodology and attract more diverse candidates.

By Jamar Haywood and Patricia Rodriguez

Evolving business values and priorities have created a hyper focus on diversifying the workforce. Diversifying the workforce is at the forefront of many companies’ targets for the upcoming recruiting season and companies are exploring ways to diversify their candidate pools. As a result, traditional recruiting methods are being challenged as they tend to be vehicles that yield homogeneous results. Diversifying the workforce is at the forefront of many companies’ targets for the upcoming recruiting season and companies are exploring ways to diversify their candidate pools. Many companies are beginning to realize that a change in mindset is not sufficient to bring about the transformation they seek. An approach that identifies diverse candidates through new, creative, alternative channels is needed to bring.

Many companies have a set of requirements for employment that are well defined and have been consistent for many years and are viewed as reflective of the company’s culture and ideals. However, when viewed more critically, those requirements present a significant impediment to increasing diversity. Whether it is a certain level of education, years of experience, certifications, or location, these requirements tend to be unintentionally exclusive and often limit the candidate pool. Continuing to return to the same sources of talent that contributed to the lack of diversity to begin with is not likely to result in meaningful change—no matter how committed a company is to transformation. So, the question for a lot of companies is to what extent they are willing to adjust these expectations in order to further their diversity goals?

The desire to attract more diverse candidates has led to some creative alternative recruiting techniques that are often overlooked in traditional recruiting programs. For instance, simply expanding campus recruiting to colleges with more diverse graduates is a no-brainer. Bolder companies are re-thinking whether a 4-year college degree should be a requirement for certain entry-level positions. Requiring a 4-year degree puts up a major barrier to reaching candidates that might be able to thrive in a role but have not had the means or access to higher education. Missing out on highly skilled talent because of outdated recruiting methods has led to a lot of companies being forced to make a pivotal decision to refine their recruiting methodology or remain stagnant. A few methods that we’ve put into practice at Ankura that are proving to be successful are explored below.

Seek Out Strategic Partners

Partnering with community organizations or programs that focus on diversity is a simple way to expand your candidate pool. Organizations that provide training for populations underserved by traditional higher-education pathways, is a great way to not only increase diversity in your candidate pool, but to also provide opportunities for candidates who are qualified but often overlooked. The candidates that complete these programs may lack some of the traditional qualifications that companies are accustomed to looking for but the level of skill and ability to perform the job function is on par with those of candidates who check those traditional boxes. Finding strong nonprofit and community partners whose training curriculum is in line with the skills that your company is seeking, is a great way to open doors and provide opportunities for candidates as well as for your company. Seeking out diverse job training programs ensures that a company will gain exposure to candidates who aren’t captured in the traditional recruiting methods. The traditional route of entering the workforce is changing rapidly. Innovations in learning and the tremendous cost of higher education is prohibitive for many, and job training programs are bridging that gap.

Be Deliberate in Your Approach

While it is possible to expand your current recruiting strategies to include diverse candidates within the existing ecosystem, being deliberate in a revised approach will ensure that your candidate pool is more diverse. Exploring online job boards, networking groups, educational associations, and professional groups that focus on diversity and including those in your recruiting toolkit is a great way to expand your recruiting pool. These groups can be great resources and prove to be extremely valuable in reaching a new population of candidates and familiarizing them with your company. Proactively seeking out diverse platforms and groups will infer to candidates that you value diversity and this may appeal to many.

Know Where to Look for Your Diverse Legal Candidates

Over the past few years, the importance of a diverse legal team has become paramount to many firms and corporations nationwide. Minority focused recruiting has become a focal point when bringing in new legal classes and lateral attorneys. Reaching out to traditionally diversity-based organizations for talent is a recruiting method that has seen a steady uptick. The National Hispanic Bar Association, the National Bar Association, and the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association are all organizations that have been utilized by many in-house recruiting teams in order to obtain minority talent. Historically Black colleges and universities and historically diverse law schools such as Howard, Florida A&M, and Texas Southern University have been instrumental as a pipeline in order to increase and reach diversity goals and initiatives. With an increase in minority-focused legal recruiting companies, it has become more attainable for firms to not only gain access to minority talent but also to continue to grow their internal teams with a diverse pool of attorneys. 

Leverage the Collective

Leveraging your current employees can prove to be beneficial in more ways than one. Employees often aren’t aware of recruiting efforts and are underutilized when trying to reach recruiting goals. Seeking advice and guidance from diverse employees within your organization when trying to increase diversity in candidate pools can also aid in making those employees feel engaged and valued as they become part of shaping the future of the company. Diverse employees also offer insight into professional diversity groups, associations, and their own personal networks which internal recruiters may struggle to otherwise identify.

The bottom line when it comes to utilizing alternative recruiting methods is simple, proactively engage with the community that you’re trying to reach. Creating an inclusive environment and being able to speak to diversity and inclusion efforts at your company is another tool that will help you gain the confidence of diverse candidate pools. Not being able to find diverse talent is no longer an acceptable excuse—the talent is out there, you just have to refine your techniques and broaden your approach. Be genuine in your recruiting efforts and willingness to provide opportunities and you will have success.

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Jamar Haywood is a managing director and Patricia Rodriguez is a senior director at Ankura in New York, New York.

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