Written by Guest Blogger: Brooklyn Harper
Women of color (WOC) have not exactly been welcomed with open arms in the tech industry. In fact, Silicon Valley is largely comprised of male professionals, who make up 83% of its workforce and are almost Caucasian. Women, especially those of color, who are qualified to hold tech jobs still continue to face steep gender and cultural biases right now.
Tech startups are in the perfect position to change this ongoing issue, as they can grow alongside an industry that continues to expand at a very face pace. Although the hiring process can be intensive and time-consuming, it’s also a wonderful opportunity for black women in tech to provide more jobs to people who have long been systematically denied entry. After all, women, WOC, and POC can fill the talent gap just as well as the Caucasian and male majorities can.
That said, there’s no better time to be a WOC in business. There’s a heightened social awareness among businesses coupled with the fact that the entrepreneurial landscape is larger than ever. Maryville University outlines that approximately 632,400 positions in the business sector will open from 2014 to 2024 — presenting a wide array of new openings that entrepreneurs can tap into when looking to hire new talent. Of course, the ins and outs of hiring are lessons you can master moving forward, but here is a short guide to help you start hiring the best employees in a landscape saturated with potential talent.
Outline the job
Before you post your ad on all your recruitment channels, make sure that you outline the full description of the job first and establish clarity from the get-go. CIO recommends highlighting key skills and competencies as well as the company culture in order to filter candidates early on. You can also enlist the help of your current employees in updating job descriptions because they might be more familiar with what the position actually entails.
You can then reiterate all these details during the interview, where you’ll go in depth about specific functions, career development, and other pertinent details about the job. Talk to your candidate about how they can potentially contribute to the short- and long-term goals of the company. This way, you not only save your own time as a manager and leader, but you will also help eliminate role ambiguity, one of the biggest productivity killers.
Conduct a pre-screening
Another way to narrow down your search for the right hire is to pre-screen candidates. Requiring résumés helps you do that more efficiently, instead of letting applicants fill out a form on the day of the interview. This way, you can do the necessary background check even before you invite candidates for a chat. Ask them to include references to schools where they graduated, previous or current employers, and even personal references. These people should be able to verify the applicant’s credentials.
Ask the right questions
During interviews, use this face time to ask relevant questions that aren’t already on their résumé. For instance, get candidates to list their strengths and weaknesses. You can also ask about their long-term goals, or how well they work with other employees. There’s so much you can learn about an applicant from the way they respond to each question, such as how they speak or how they handle pressure and whether this ties in with your company’s ethos.
Look for soft skills
Sometimes résumés include soft skills like a ‘strong work ethic’ or ‘good communication,’ but these are difficult to measure on paper. The interview should reveal whether they possess similar skills that are essential to the position. For example, check the candidate’s self-confidence and approachability if you’re looking for a communications manager. The Balance also suggests assessing how well they would fit into the company culture, as this can affect their job satisfaction and workplace morale.
The catch is that it can be tricky to eliminate bias when hiring for ‘culture fit’. It’s what Jell’s Ade Olonoh warned other women about during Disrupt Indy 2017, because hiring for ‘culture fit’ often denies candidates opportunities to prove themselves due to biases. Find diversity in personalities and backgrounds as well, and don’t just hire someone cut from the same cloth as everyone else. It might be difficult to remain objective during the hiring process because ultimately, it’s about judging character and the value that a person would add to the company. On that note, it’s every entrepreneur’s responsibility to be as fair with the hiring process as possible. Black women know all too well that it’s an applicant’s credentials and potential that should get an applicant through the door, and not their privilege or connections.
Article written solely for talktechassociation.org by Brooklyn Harper