We hear it all the time: there are labour shortages everywhere. And yet, there is also a whole segment of Canadian society who have career aspirations but are either unemployed or stuck in precarious or dead-end jobs.
This three-part series explores ways in which learnings from the field of community development can help human resource professionals reach this untapped labour pool.
Based on the ground-breaking work of East Scarborough Works, a community-wide strategy to move people from poverty to employment, we’ve identified three things that HR professionals can take from community development processes and practices to improve recruitment outcomes:
- Build and maintain reciprocal relationships with non-profit organizations in your community
- Integrate tools for equitable hiring in your recruitment strategy
- Adapt the communication and timing of your recruitment strategies
Learn more about East Scarborough Works in this article by Anne Gloger in CERIC’s Careering magazine: Geography matters: The value of place-based workforce development
The power of reciprocal relationships
In this article, the first installment in the series, we will explore the role that non-profits can play in supporting employers’ recruitment strategies and how to leverage the relationship for greatest effect.
A common misconception across various industries is that working with a non-profit means engaging in charity: hiring unqualified candidates as a good deed. This is a myth that has kept employers and non-profit organizations from working together as effectively as they could.
Many non-profits are, in fact, actively engaged in the kinds of workforce development strategies that can have a direct impact on your recruitment goals. The Intergovernmental Committee for Economic and Labour Force Development describes workforce development as “supporting individuals further from the labour market and/or experiencing barriers to employment,” which includes:
- Facilitating entry or re-entry into the labour force (e.g. preparatory employment support, facilitating connections with other services and work opportunities); and
- Developing robust relationships with employers, based on an understanding of their needs, to support them to receive candidates and improve jobs, to the benefit of the company
While building relationships with your local non-profits may not seem like a hard-hitting strategy, it may, in fact, give your company a strategic edge. Non-profits are well-positioned to prepare people to be successful candidates when your company is recruiting.
“Many non-profits are, in fact, actively engaged in the kinds of workforce development strategies that can have a direct impact on your recruitment goals.”
Building and maintaining relationships with non-profits will not, however, be business as usual. Non-profits have their own goals, their own deliverables to meet and their own processes.
Non-profit culture may initially seem strange when your reference point is a corporate environment; these sectors operate quite differently. Only by building trust and exploring issues and solutions with non-profits will you be able to leverage their expertise to best effect. To do that, relationships are key.
If you haven’t yet worked effectively with non-profits, here are four tips to help you get started:
1. Discover who is in your ecosystem
Who are the candidates you are trying to attract? What kinds of jobs are you recruiting for? What organization is best positioned to help you to find the candidates you are looking for? Across Canada, dialling the phone number 2-1-1 provides access to information about and referrals to social service organizations; it is also a useful tool for you to use if you don’t have existing relationships with non-profits in your community, as it can tell you who does what and how to contact them.
2. Understand your ‘why’
How you approach non-profits can set a tone for the relationship you want to build. When exploring issues and solutions with non-profits, regardless of what your industry is or what their organization does, describing problems and outcomes in terms of human well-being makes it easier to collaborate.
In essence, start with why. Why would working with your company be beneficial to a non-profit? Why would a partnership with this non-profit work for you? In this way, you can craft a narrative about what you can do in partnership that neither your company nor the non-profit can achieve individually (win/win).
3. Find time to connect
One of the reasons that people furthest from the labour market are often not successful candidates in recruitment strategies is because they need more time and support to prepare – not because they don’t have the aptitude for the job. Non-profits can help jobseekers prepare if they have the information and time they need. We’ll be delving more into the role of timing when working with non-profits in part three of this article series.
Here, we will simply stress that finding ways to increase co-ordination and communication between HR professionals/hiring managers and the organizations preparing candidates for the job will improve the non-profit’s capacity to help you find the candidates you are looking for.
4. Get to know each other
It is this need for co-ordination and communication that requires employers and non-profits to move beyond transactional relationships. Transactional relationships between employers and non-profits often start and stop with the immediate needs of a jobseeker to find work or of an employer to fill a vacancy. This does not sustain the communication and co-ordination non-profits need to help candidates prepare for specific jobs.
The more non-profits know about your business, your needs and labour market trends in your sector, the more effective they will be; the more you know about the needs, issues and realities of non-profits, the more effective your partnership will be.
A good partnership is based on trust. A good strategy is one in which people feel ownership of the outcome. By taking a cue from the world of community development and focusing on relationships with non-profits, you can build trust and break down barriers between the corporate and non-profit worlds. In this reciprocal partnership, non-profits are better able to connect people to the jobs they aspire to and you have an entirely new pool of qualified candidates to bring into your company.
In the next article, we’ll explore how to use an anti-racism lens to assess your recruitment practices in order to break down barriers that may be preventing you from reaching candidates furthest from the labour market.