Issue #06: Diversity & Inclusion

Hiring Diversity (Beta Version)

The only constant is change… and the hiring process.

The way companies design their hiring process has always kept my attention. But during the last couple of years, with the increasing discussions and researches about inclusion and diversity, this became even more special. We are walking through a new and super interesting paradigm, but still in beta version. Life habits changed, technology evolved and evolves every day, access to trainings and tools to develop our skills became more and more available, but there is something that believe it or not maintained its basics: the hiring processes.

The Unconscious Biases

It’s incredible to meet colleagues, no matter located where, and hear about the same tips, tools and assumptions when it comes to source and screen talent.

The more common approach to analyze profiles is full of biases. Starting with a global perspective, the University you studied in and how long it took, says a lot about your capabilities. More than that, depending on where you studied, you will probably have more chances of being considered than other people that decided a different path.

Of course there is no room for people that didn’t find their path in the the academic world.

It’s not a good sign, so it’s better to not waste time and move on to another profile.

If you jumped from job to job in a relatively short period of time, you are a job hopper and you don’t deserve my time as recruiter even to ask you why or how you made these decisions.  

But, it’s not all negative. Some countries are more advanced with some aspects. Didn’t look for photos in the resumes. Recruiters don’t ask about age or personal life. These companies use to have Diversity and Inclusion practices that also apply to their hiring process, paying special attention to the gender neutral language in the job postings, the pics in their website, the training for interviewers; just to mention a couple of initiatives.

But the best practices about sourcing and selecting the best talent, remained the same.

Moving to a local view of this situation and double clicking in Argentina, the situation is even worst.

We still ask for personal data. If you are a female, not a minor number of companies still find super relevant to know about your personal and family plans. We pay attention to the photos in your resume. We analyze your date of birth and do judgments for free.

We have a decent but still small and understaffed IT market, so making assumptions about people trajectory becomes really easy. We, as recruiters and “employers” use one of our best attributes to predict who you are based on your profile. We use our arrogance to quickly arrive to conclusions. We strongly believe that our market has less than 10 respectful product companies, with a reputation earned about their products but also the high bar in the hiring process. We also assume that if you went to public universities, you have a plus. Although we are a bit more familiar with the idea of not necessarily finished your formal studies or take almost 10 years to get a bachelor degree, this keeps our attention anyway. If you are not studying, or if you withdrew, or if you are studying at an University that social trends say that it’s not at the expected level, we assume to know a lot about who you are. So we automatically know how could you potentially perform in our hiring process and of course in the role, our culture and company.

And please don’t tell me you are more than 40 years old and you still want to code. What happened in your career? Then it becomes an obsession to find out a problematic relationship with a former boss or any related typical problem.

If you are not considering become a Manager and you just want to code, we need to address it because this could tell a lot about your ambition, intrinsic motivation and willingness to grow.

Another interesting point about doing hiring in Argentina is related to the super mentioned and manipulated concept of Digital Transformation.

So, in the future (?) all companies will become a technology company. We have been repeating this for a long time. However, we didn’t change our assumptions. If you are working at a bank, or at a traditional telecommunications company, you will probably not match with our positions.

If you didn’t work for at least one of the respected tech companies, something is wrong with you.

Why did you not try to take your career to the next level? But honestly, we don’t have the answer because we actually do not ask. Contacting and considering these profiles, it’s not worth it. We need to optimize and prioritize our time.

The Beta Version

Perhaps give a beta version is too much. Perhaps we are even at an earlier stage. Each time I hear someone saying that the profile was archived and rejected because there was not enough evidence of being a good match with the role, my ears hurt. Each time I identify a bias around the educational and professional background, the idea of challenging the status quo and really invest in training, gain more and more strength.

Then we intend to work on the Impostor Syndrome, that curiously we are also responsible for generating. What are we trying to say when we are looking for the top talent? What does a top talent look like? Who did define those parameters? Once again, there are not answers to these questions.

But, hold on. One of the definitions of beta version is “an early version of a program or application that contains most of the major features, but is not yet complete. Sometimes these versions are released only to a select group of people, or to the general public, for testing and feedback. This is the second major stage of development following the alpha version, and comes before the release candidate”. So, perhaps beta version is a correct term to define the hiring processes these days. Absolutely aligned with the idea of “not yet complete” but still not aware that the testing and feedback stages started a long time ago and we are missing the mark.

If we still can’t see that a human being is much more than a LinkedIn profile, we are in trouble. If the professional experience and the way people make decisions don’t motivate us enough to reach out and stop assuming to start asking, we are in trouble.

If we are still waiting for people to say politically accepted answers, we are in trouble and we won’t be doing any other thing than contributing to the Impostor Syndrome.

But more than that, we will be losing our so valuable and obsessive focus on hiring the best talent. The real one; that that we don’t know.

To Alienate Or Not To Alienate, That Is The Question

Dear recruiters, dear colleagues: we have a lot to do with this. We are driving the processes. We are the proxy between people (or profiles, as you prefer to call them) and opportunities (or openings). We have a critical role and a great power; and great power comes with great responsibility. Define if we want to be aligned or alienated must be our first one job on a daily basis.

We can’t allow us to keep on doing the same things anymore. We can’t seat down and just see how the world changes, read about Inclusion and Diversity, feel pride about the Inclusion practices in our companies but not realize that we will be on the opposite sidewalk if we don’t clean our lens. Please do not repeat what Digital Transformation means if you still dismiss people with +10 years of coding experience at companies whose core is not technology (yet).

While paying attention to the gender neutral language in our job postings is super important, it becomes cosmetic when we don’t encourage each other to do a better job.

A responsible recruiting job can’t be done without love and passion. An HR role can’t be successful without challenging the business and thinking out of the box.

Let’s move out of beta version and revisit every single day why we do what we do, how we do it and embrace the unique opportunity we have between hands to impact the industries, companies, markets and hundreds of people we are in touch with every day.

Moving Out Of Beta Version

Long paths start with a first step. We don’t need to wait until the perfect moment. As long as you wait to have all in place to start, the later you will do it.

So what could you do starting today?

  • Network > LinkedIn: not everybody is in LinkedIn.
  • What are you looking for?: ask yourself this question every single day.
  • What really answer that question?: which information included in the profile really gives you insights? If you are looking for an experienced Mobile Engineer with ability to mentor other people, does the University where she / he studied tell you something about that? I don’t think so…
  • The summary: if someone took some time to introduce her/himself in the summary, take your time to read it. Is there anything that caught your attention?
  • Too empty profile = become curious: not everyone loves to include full and detailed experience in their profiles. This is not the preferred language; engineers write code so that’s the best cover letter. I know! We don’t read code. But that’s not an excuse to only read LinkedIn profiles. I challenge you to give the next 10 “too empty” LinkedIn profiles a chance. Ask questions to the empty fields and then complete them from the candidate’s answers.
  • The iceberg model: we don’t know what we don’t know. I like to think in the IT industry as an iceberg. There are a lot of people showing what they do but in a language that we don’t understand. There are a couple of things you can do about this, as for example build a strong partnership with the engineering teams to strategically work on sourcing, the pitching message and approach or reinforce the referral program, but the most important one is embrace a growth mindset. Don’t tell yourself that you don’t need to understand “technical aspects”. I would like to share this article from Stack Overflow, that provides useful techniques to expand your searches and be able to see more angles of the iceberg.
  • Reduce assumptions: challenge yourself to not complete unknown information with your assumptions. Develop a genuine interest in knowing people and their stories. Always keep in mind that there is much more than a profile behind a profile.

We have the unique opportunity of revalue the concept of candidate experience, trying each candidate as we like to be treated as customers. Details make a huge difference and challenging old and unprovable beliefs will generate the inflation point in the way that companies recruit people. All this is also about inclusion and diversity.

Let’s move about of beta version. All we need is passion, love and conviction.

Cover photo by Raj Eiamworakul on Unsplash.

Julia Cacciapuoti

I do things. This is the best way I could introduce myself. I'm a passionate HR professional with +14 years of experience in the IT industry. Born and based in Argentina, working for global companies and distributed teams during the last 10 years. Former basketball player, wine & bike lover who deeply enjoy traveling. I strongly believe that people and interactions are over processes and tools, and my dream is to introduce a real change in the HR function and mindset.