- Joanna Abeyie
There are many challenges facing recruiters when looking for diverse talent for the creative industries. Recruitment industry expert and social campaigner Joanna Abeyie takes an in-depth look at these and how best to tackle them.
Snooze, you lose
Speed is crucial when it comes to hiring and even more so when hiring diverse talent. Often when recruiting senior talent, there is a need to find that replacement as soon as possible. If you are not privy to where diverse talent (meaning- talent not usually captured through your application process) are searching for roles and job opportunities you are likely to miss out on a whole section of the talented pool of candidates that would really be successful in the role you are looking to fill.
Be the recruiter you wish to see
Too often I hear ‘where is all the senior talent?’ when speaking to talent managers who are wanting to attract and hire diverse talent and I often wonder, are they really utilising all the different platforms to find talent? I was a researcher on a TV programme and was often asked to find something that I considered or perceived as obscure. If I had said, “I don’t know where to find it”, how long I would still have that job? That’s worth thinking about.
For example, LinkedIn is very useful but it isn’t the only place to look for talent. Find professional networks, professional organisations, diversity initiatives, awards alumni, charities, social media professional platforms, careers events and sector leaders in inclusion. Recruiters should form real relationships with key stake holders within these organisations, to be front of mind when looking for talent that would add value to your business. That same ‘can do’ attitude which you ask from talent should also apply for you.
The 2:1 rule: Listen more and talk less
You don’t know everything! CEO or not… we’re all on a journey within our careers and some of the most innovative, creative and forward-thinking people are not from the backgrounds you might expect. When you meet new talent at whatever professional level they are currently at, talk less and listen more, you’re likely to hear more openly when you have both ears open. Listen to understand, not to reply. Then you’ll learn more about the talent in front of you than you will realise. This is more about unconscious bias than anything, judgements and evaluations are made unconsciously about a candidate, and listening more, as simple as it sounds, would make a huge difference.
Career advancement… are there really opportunities for progression?
Does the job role allow for real career progression within your business, what level of skill is required and what could be the path to success and career advancement?
Mentors can play a key role in someone’s career progression –but it doesn’t have to be the busiest person in the building and the mentor should not be decided before you find the talent. Ask first, “Who would this person get on with and who would be a real cheerleader for this person?” Identifying this person will help not just hire diverse talent, but also retain this talent too. If you want to attract and keep talent, the best way to do this is to encourage someone who has already been successful to help them achieve this too.
Use external agencies and resources who spend real time with their talent
The creative industry can sometimes feel a little spoilt for choice. There are so many people who want to be a part of the industry that for any one role there are a really competitive number of applicants. Now, if you really want to find the ‘hidden talent’, the kind of individuals you feel your business is struggling to attract, recruit and retain – then be prepared to pay for a valuable service. Creative businesses can pay up to 30% in head hunter fees with no requirement on diversity or inclusive hiring practices – but will meet an inclusive recruiter and be shy of paying for their valuable service.
It’s clear that the businesses that aren’t successful at placing the talent themselves use the specialists inclusive recruiter. Diversity doesn’t mean discount. Businesses that value talent, must value all talent and should pay for this accordingly.
If talent keep making the same mistakes, tell them how not to…
As a recruiter I’ve seen this so many times. Talent confide in me about their experiences with their current employer and likewise so do hiring managers. And although Hyden support businesses and talent through this transitional time, I do often experience managers who are not confident giving feedback and constructive criticism. In my past experiences before I introduced pre- and post-placement support, many hiring managers didn’t provide feedback to talent when they did something wrong, or that wasn’t in line with their business culture and instead would just not recommend the talent or re-hire them. If you really want to be inclusive and help, given them feedback. That individual may not be as fortunate to be educated to the same extent or in the same way about the employment process as you might be. How can they put their best foot forward if you don’t tell them what that ‘best foot’ looks like?
Too often talent managers call their friends in other companies to get ‘off the record’ references regarding potential candidates and this can often block talent from progressing. If you are interested enough to do a background check and will base your next decision on the feedback you receive, you need to make it a priority to meet talent. Just because someone wasn’t right for one company doesn’t mean they can’t be the next big thing within yours!
Joanna Abeyie is an award-winning diversity champion and recruiter, social campaigner, TV executive, broadcaster and journalist.
Find out more at www.hydentalent.com