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Don’t Let Good Candidates Get Lost in the Crowd

Wednesday May 5th, 2021

Estimated time to read: 2 minutes, 30 seconds


Putting Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to Work in Finding New Talent


Diversity, equity and inclusion—commonly referred to as DE&I—has taken center stage in the workplace. Now more than ever, employers should actively strive to create meaningful change in hiring practices despite history that has marginalized underrepresented groups.

At the same time, businesses of all sizes are struggling to find qualified workers as people get vaccinated, return to pre-pandemic work settings and look forward to a more normal life. In this pursuit, small companies that can’t offer pay and benefits as generous as larger companies seem to have the toughest time.

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) found in a March 2021 survey of its members that 42 percent had job openings they could not fill. “Main Street is doing better as state and local restrictions are eased, but finding qualified labor is a critical issue for small businesses nationwide,” according to NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg.  

Human resource (HR) leaders can leverage and expand on DE&I initiatives currently in place within their organizations to match eligible workers with a growing number of vacant job opportunities. As a rule, HR leaders should look for recruiting practices that are antithetical to diversity and strive to resolve them.

Consider the following simple strategies for showcasing your commitment to DE&I and tapping into overlooked pools of talent:

1. Establish Your Diversity and Inclusion Brand

Even if your business doesn’t have a formal DE&I program, you are likely promoting your organizational commitment to all-inclusive diversity and inclusion hiring practices.  Your company brand serves as your first touch point with candidates, customers, prospects, business partners and the larger public. Conduct a brand inventory and make sure you are highlighting your commitment to DE&I by:

• Posting a diversity vision or DE&I commitment statement

• Displaying images of disparate employees—different ages, races, religions, disabilities, etc.

• Publishing demographic statistics from historical hiring data

• Offering testimonials or interview videos of diverse employees from all levels in your organization

• Noting diversity awards or other public recognition of your organization’s DE&I efforts

2. Enhance Employee Referrals

One of the best recruiting sources is word of mouth. Employees who recognize your company’s desire to improve DE&I practices know and talk to other individuals who share the same values. The most engaged employees also act as brand ambassadors and evangelize the positive aspects of working for your organization. 

To capitalize on your employees’ personal networks of qualified candidates, bolster referral-based recruiting programs while formally communicating your diversity message. By remaining transparent in your recruiting and hiring methods, current employees will feel more incented and encouraged to reach out to potential referrals.

3. Look to Education and Training Programs 

For many large employers, entry-level roles are the hardest to fill given fierce competition for college-educated talent. One of the best sources of entry-level talent is students and recent graduates of vocational and training programs, community or junior colleges, and four-year colleges and universities. 

Since in-person hiring events are now less frequent, employers should connect with career placement resources within these educational institutions and continuously update them on open positions. Additionally, recruiters can post on job boards like College Recruiter to target young students in the very early stages of their careers. 

4. Leverage WOTC Eligibility Categories

Recruiters can tap into overlooked pools of talent and onboard engaged employees with skills that do not necessarily come from formal training. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) program, a federal tax credit available to employers for hiring individuals from certain targeted groups, provides workers with extra support to look for meaningful employment.

As you evaluate workers to fill positions left open due to market conditions or changing business needs, consider candidates who may get overlooked based on common life circumstances. The WOTC program benefits virtually any type and size of business. Whether your company hires 20 or 20,000 employees per year, WOTC filings can significantly impact your margins and profitability.

A Diverse Future

Make no mistake: Diversity within the workplace is not only something that businesses need to achieve to compete, but it’s also a key factor in reducing employee turnover. As employment demographics shift with the arrival of Generation Z entering the workforce, the importance of diversity in retaining employees will become even more crucial than it is today. 


One way to foster a more inclusive workplace is by forming a DE&I committee. Get a step-by-step guide on how to create and lead this committee in your company by downloading this eBook.


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