No one looks like me
It seems pretty simple, right? To look around your community or workplace and almost assume that you’ll see people that look like you. That talk like you. That grew up like you. It’s inherently built into our beliefs and definitions of comfort. But Tej Singh, Talent Acquisition Manager at Wonderbly and Founder of Exacity Recruitment, didn’t see people like him in the startup scene. This really sparked his interest in diversity recruiting and under-represented founders. But that’s not where it all began.
In search of a career where he could really help people, Tej turned to recruiting at just 24 years old. With no formal experience, he decided to start his own recruiting agency.
I figured I’d try it out and see what I thought.
After we recovered from the shock of realising Tej had created his own recruitment company before ever working in recruitment or talent acquisition, we returned to the problem. Most entrepreneurs start their company with a mission in mind, a problem to solve.
Well, all I knew was that recruiters weren’t liked!
With an analytical approach and critical thinking learned through his degree in biochemistry, Tej took on the challenge head first. In that pursuit, he started to look around. At the networking and entrepreneurial events, he was one of a few Indian entrepreneurs. This became the fuel behind the Tej Talks podcast.
Digging In To A Diversity Recruiting How-To
As we continued to talks paths, privilege and prejudices one of our viewers took a stand. “There’s no way to do diversity hiring in tech,” they adamantly said. Immediately our guest host of the week Katrina Kibben, Founder of Three Ears Media started shaking her head in disagreement.
That is one of the most repeated cop-outs for not searching harder and pursuing top talent.
Turning to our guest, we asked “well how would you approach this? Your client wants a diverse background for a new hard-to-fill tech role. How do you find them?” As opposed to the typical database or scraping, Tej took an approach that emphasizes the human connection over search strings.
- Start with people you know well. Ask yourself, “who do I know right now who can introduce me to people of all backgrounds?” While most sourcing strategists start by scraping and digging, start your search talking to people you know. Share your strategy and plant the seed that you’re looking if they meet anyone that fits the profile.
- Reach out to secondary contacts on LinkedIn. Look for people who know things about diversity recruiting. Connect with people and educate yourself.
- Attend events and meetups. You have to change your pipeline to change the outcome. Look at new places. Attend new events you haven’t seen before. Bhangra competitions, for example, would be a great way to attract an Indian audience. Remember, you’re not selling the role – you’re getting interest. Don’t go for the hard sell.
- Host learning. “Education is everything” said Tej. Build a pipeline of talent from different backgrounds by creating learning events that cater to this audience. It changes the entire recruiter/candidate dynamic if you already have a pre-existing relationship.