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10 best practices for hiring diverse college students

Posted October 19, 2020 by

Recruiting and retaining diverse talent is top-of-mind for leading organizations, large and small. What has changed this year, due largely to the police killings of George Floyd and others, is why employers are motivated to recruit and retain college students, recent graduates, and others who are diverse.

Diversity hiring used to be about compliance. Now, increasingly, it is about organizations wanting their workforces to be as productive as possible. They’ve finally come to understand that the more diverse their workforces are, the more productive those workforces are.

With the increased emphasis on recruiting diverse college students and recent graduates and then retaining that talent, many organizations are looking for the best practice strategies for diversity recruitment and retention. Here are ten:

  1. Recruit your strategic hires where diversity thrives. For most Fortune 1,000 companies, government agencies, and other employers who hire at scale, a key component to their strategic hiring efforts is their college and university recruiting program. Target and build partnerships with schools, student organizations, and college job search sites like College Recruiter that are able to your desired demographic. If you’re struggling to attract enough black candidates, target black students, including those who attend Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). But don’t forget about the Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and the Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs).
  2. Promote your diversity brand. Do you have programs in place to improve the recruitment and retention of diverse candidates, such as employee resource groups (ERGs)? If so, prominently showcase them on your organization’s career page and social media channels. Do you have a diversity statement from your CEO? Showcase it. If you can’t think of anything like this, build some, showcase, build some more, showcase. Rakuna recommends showcasing these items:
    • Diversity Vision & Statement/ Diversity Commitment
    • Diversity Charter
    • Diversity images
    • Demographics stats
    • Testimonials/ videos interviewing minority employees from all levels
    • Any diversity award/public recognition of your organization’s D&I efforts
    • Pictures from your ERGs’ events and activities
    • Pictures which showcase your organization’s D&I efforts
  3. Partner with professional associations and student groups that foster diversity. Many of these are organized around specific minority groups. Sponsor them, provide mentorship to them, and engage at their events.
  4. Attend or even host your own virtual career events that target minority students.
  5. Leverage or create an employee referral program. Be explicit in communicating with your existing employees that you’re seeking more diverse talent. Those who know potential, diverse candidates will then be more likely to refer them.
  6. Advertise and, better yet, engage with diverse candidates through social media channels. Recruiters who want to recruit truck drivers are often told to go to truck stops and hang out with the truckers. If your target audience is hanging out in Facebook groups, then you should be too. Don’t aggressively pitch your job openings. Be a resource. This is their group, not yours. The group is there to serve them, not you.
  7. Create scholarships and otherwise donate money or other resources that supports diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.
  8. Ask your employee resource groups (ERGs) to spread the word. They can be some of the most powerful ambassadors and often just need to be asked. Many organizations use their ERGs to interview and even hire diverse talent. According to Rakuna, “Ernst & Young used their LGBT ERG to help relocate a gay partner and his spouse to Cleveland from Paris by introducing him and his spouse to members of the local LGBT community.”
  9. Organize events that target diverse students and recent graduates. A highly effective way of accomplishing this is to create a formalized, co-op or internship program.
  10. Use hiring metrics to establish your goals, measure your successes, and make adjustments. There’s a lot of truth to the adage that you can’t manage what you can’t measure. Be sure that the metrics you select are not subjective such as, “improve diversity hiring efforts” as two reasonable people could easily differ as to whether your organization accomplished that goal. Instead, use metrics such as:
    • Percentage of diverse candidates at each recruiting stage
    • Percentage of minorities at different levels in your firm
    • Employee satisfaction score in terms of D&I
    • Retention rate among minority employee groups
    • Awards/ recognitions from special interest and advocacy groups for your D&I efforts
    • Percentage of job offers extended to diverse candidates
    • Percentage turnover rate of diversity hires within a year
    • Average diverse applicants’ satisfaction rate (from a survey)
    • Average manager satisfaction score (from a survey) after a diversity hire
    • Average on-the-job performance rating of diversity hires after one year

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