Part 6: Diversity Sourcing Strategies

*Editor’s note: Download our full Diversity and Inclusion Handbook for more than 70 pages of tangible strategies to help you cultivate diversity and inclusion on your team.

We believe passionately that diverse and inclusive companies make for more innovative, engaged, and happy teams, and we speak to forward-thinking talent leaders all the time who feel the same. We’re writing this series on how to improve diversity and inclusion in the workplace because people are ready for the next level of discourse around D&I: one aimed at practical and applicable solutions. In Part 5, you’ll find tactical advice, beneficial resources, and examples of what companies are doing today to make impactful and long-lasting progress in D&I. Read our series introduction to see what we cover throughout the series. 

If you are thinking about how to diversify your workforce, chances are you’re also thinking about how you’ll strategically get underrepresented minority candidates into your recruiting process. More than that, you might be thinking about the best way to source diverse candidates. What platforms work the best? What language should you be using? It can be challenging to bring in candidates with different experiences, backgrounds and perspectives without a clear path on how to do this.

Diversity Sourcing Strategies

Underrepresented minorities with a lot of experience in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) are likely being reached out to by recruiters and sourcers who are working to diversify their companies, too. I’ve written previously about specific sourcing strategies that some recruiting orgs have tried when recruiting for diversity that feels ingenuine and humiliating to the person on the receiving end. By using messaging that leads with “I’m reaching out because we care about diversity” you’re making the recipient of this messaging feel like a token. This is your chance to be the differentiator, this is where you can really stand out and a bring a human approach to the daunting task of sourcing for diversity.

While not perfected, these are best practices for recruiting diverse candidates that we have found through trial and error, collaborating with other organizations and reading about other best practices. As I mentioned earlier, there isn’t a tried and true way to do this but this is a great start:

  1. Launch objectives and key milestones for your diversity sourcing. How will you know when you’ve made some progress?
  2. Get creative with your sourcing platforms and mediums. If you have been using the same platform to find your candidates it might be time to start venturing out to platforms you might not have thought of using in the past.  
  3. Experiment with more thoughtful engagement strategies. It might be time to revamp some of those outreach templates to make them click bait worthy.

Turning goals into action, building objectives and key milestones for your diversity sourcing strategies

Starting a new initiative can be intimidating. Building out objectives and relating them to key milestones can ensure that you are able to move the needle in some way. The beauty of an objective is that it inspires you to dream big while giving you the flexibility to  re-tool or re-imagine as you go along. A big part of this is understanding where the state of your diversity efforts are currently at your company. If you haven’t already, you can use this Part 2 of our series to get a pulse of how diversity and inclusion is going at your company with an engagement survey (sample survey included) and build goals from your results.  

Once you’ve aligned yourself (and those working with you), build out milestones (or OKRs — if you prefer) that will help you know that you’re moving the needle. At Lever, we use OKRs on the People team quarterly. By setting clear objectives and understanding the key results associated with those objectives the entire team is accountable for the overall team goals and knows the steps to take to hit our goals. Ideally your milestones  have a quantity or number associated with it so that you can objectively see the progress and report on it later on. This can also help you assess the value of your efforts in real-time and decide if you need to pivot and go in a different direction. It’s easy (and tempting) to build a gigantic list of milestones but try to start small initially. A focused set of milestones will allow you to build momentum while a giant list of objectives may have you feeling overwhelmed. Phew, sorry for the OKR 101! Just wanted to make sure that we’re on the same page, now back to diversifying your pipeline!

Once you have your milestones set it’s time to loop in your sourcer (if you have one) and interviewers. While this can look like a lot of work (and potentially a lot of input), this critical step will gain alignment with your key stakeholders and will also show your hiring team (your interviewers and sourcers) why you’re moving in the direction that you are. That alignment will not only make the effort more authentic but will also help in driving inclusion throughout your organization. Additionally, that alignment will prevent you from having to re-review candidate resumes and profiles.

The key here is not to have a specific number of profiles that you’re looking to review, we aren’t going for quantity; we’re aiming for quality. When looking for candidates, try to dig deep into their experience and their interests instead of just skimming through it. Looking for recognizable names of schools and companies won’t help you learn more about each individual candidate. You’re looking for what they’ve done, not where they’ve done it. You want to start looking through the different projects that they might have owned, or the various levels of responsibility that they have in their current role. Remember, tenure doesn’t always equate to impact. Also, don’t forget other clues beyond their resume. Dig into the different areas of the business they might have impacted through their companies social media or blog presence.

Looking beyond LinkedIn, getting creative with your diversity sourcing strategy

We love LinkedIn at Lever and I can say that LinkedIn is likely the site I frequent most when looking for candidates. But when looking to bring in underrepresented minority or non-traditional background candidates who are interested in the work that you’re doing and the culture that you’re promoting you can’t just be another InMail reach out. While the easiest way to reach out, it’s easy for your InMail to get lost in the shuffle and look like any other recruiting attempt. Instead, use LinkedIn as your jumping-off point to filter down to the baseline requirements that you have. You can use advanced search features to find specific (or broader) titles, levels of experience, locations and keywords and then head to over different platforms to engage.  By moving on a different platform to engage you’re also learning more about your potential candidate. While there are interesting facts about someone on LinkedIn, I would argue that most times the things that they’re passionate about live elsewhere. Reaching out to them on other sites can also give you an advantage because it’s creative and different from what they’re likely used to experiencing thus far. It also gives you fantastic content for your customized reach outs.

There are a variety of sites that will give you further insight into the candidates that you’re looking for. Here are a few that I think are particularly helpful to create a broader diversity sourcing strategy:

Traditional social media:

  • Medium – a great place to find substance at length. Medium gives you the chance to see what posts they’ve recommended, things they’ve highlighted and writers and topics that they follow. This platform can show you more of their passion work and both give you content to use in your reach out but also be a great place to source from. Medium makes it easy to search and track topics and keywords. So if you were looking for say, someone passionate about ‘Data Science’ running a search can give you a flurry of people to learn more about and potentially source.  
  • Twitter – while 140 characters might not seem like enough information you would be surprised what you can find. Look at the content they’ve tweeted or retweeted. Dig into the lists they might be apart of, or the people that they follow. Sometimes a Twitter profile can give you insight into a person’s day to day, the things that annoy or delight them. This tip also assumes that this person is active on Twitter, which not all people are, but if they are active there is a lot of information to be found.  
  • Quora – this might be my absolute favorite site to source diverse candidates from. Quora is a site where you can ask questions and have them answered by other users, from there upvoted answers will rise to the top. Quora has an outrageously diverse user base, the variation of users makes reading answers to questions so interesting. Try to find a topic related to the role that you’re looking for and scan through answers to questions in that topic.

In addition to the usual social media sites, there are a lot of up-and-coming recruiting platforms that are looking to serve underrepresented communities.

Non-traditional recruiting platforms:

  • Jopwell – a site for black and hispanic job hunters to browse and apply for jobs. The interface is very user friendly and simple, making it easy to learn while sourcing and posting jobs. The Jopwell user base is rapidly growing which means that there are more and more candidates on there each day.
  • – this platform is built to connect LBTQ women with jobs in tech and is still in beta. They work specifically through the referral model by giving the opportunity for other queer women in tech to review resumes and ‘refer’ candidates on the site. This means that you are browsing profiles that have already been ‘qualified’ by other women at other companies.
  • Your company’s blog – this has been a HUGE source of candidates for us at Lever. Write about what you’re doing in the diversity and inclusion space. Allow space for your employees to write about their own experiences at your company or their experience in getting to your company. Write about ways that you celebrate milestones, or learning sessions that you hold. Write about things you have tried internally that haven’t worked (we haven’t done this yet but have a post on the way!). This will create an intimate view into your company but will also show candidates that you have a culture that supports diversity and inclusion.  †hese are some examples of posts that have driven a lot of candidate traffic:

Engagement best practices for diversity sourcing

Now that you have the candidates you want, it’s time to restructure your reach-out tactics. While it’s likely sourcing 101 to not send out extremely templated and non-intriguing messaging, with diverse candidates you want to ensure that you’re able to strike a chord that really resonates with them by sending highly personalized and creative messages. You can start with a pun or a comment about something that you know is interesting to them. If you found them in an unconventional way use what you found to your advantage. For example, if you found that they are intensely into John Mayer you could write, “Wave 1, sure, but Wave 2? What did you think about his dance moves?” to lighten things up a bit. Believe it or not, most candidates will be impressed with your ability to dig beyond their LinkedIn profile to learn more about them.

There is one thing that you want to be sure NEVER to do — don’t reach out and immediately let your candidate know that you are passionate about diversity. Doing so will instantly make your candidate feel like a token and will likely turn them off from wanting to connect with you.

If you don’t think that you’re the right person to reach out, have someone else reach out instead. Tools like Lever’s Nurture allows you to build smart workflows so that your target candidate receives scheduled messages from various members of your team, sharing more information about your opportunity.  

Conclusion: diversity sourcing strategies

Diversifying your pipeline isn’t an easy feat but by taking these actionable steps, you can move the needle on how full your pipeline is with diverse candidates. By setting measureable milestones on your sourcing initiatives, you’ll ensure that you are progressing forward and if you’re not you can easily recognize it and adjust if needed.  

Using different platforms to source your candidate is another way to boost your candidate engagement. Being creative with where you find candidates can increase your candidate engagement but also can give you more insight into who your candidate is. Show your candidates what you’ve been up to at your company. Introduce them to your mission and values, give them insight into what life at your company can mean for them so that they can see themselves there. If you’ve recently hit a big milestone internally, share it! Your potential candidate wants to know that your company is doing well but also wants to be excited with and for you.  In true Lever style, maybe a throw a GIF or a meme in there if you think it’s something that they might appreciate. Just as much as you want to get to know them, they want to get to know you and sometimes the only way to do that is with an amazing GIF.

For more, read our next post on how to commit to fair compensation, and download our Diversity & Inclusion Handbook for hundreds of impactful tactics like the ones above. 

Further reading