Underrepresented talent will be looking for cues about your commitment to DEI in your messaging. Here are 3 examples of diversity recruiting outreach.
As a recruiter, if you hope to hit your diversity hiring goals, you can’t eliminate or alienate underrepresented talent from your pool before you even get to the phone-screen stage. The very top of the hiring funnel—outreach and nurture—is the most crucial stage for recruitment, since the quality and caliber of your talent pool is directly correlated with the quality and caliber of your hires. This is perhaps especially true when it comes to diversity recruiting. After all, there’s no diversifying a pool in the middle of the funnel. So how do you position yourself to see good outcomes from the beginning?
While underrepresented talent has the same skills and competencies as majority talent, their needs, hopes, and expectations about a workplace worth working for may differ from those of their majority counterparts. The stakes are often higher for underrepresented talent when it comes to considering career moves. So they’ll be looking in a variety of places—your job descriptions, your careers pages, your social feeds, and your outreach messages—for cues about your commitment to their belonging. This means that all of these channels should be telling a unified story about your company’s commitment to, and efforts toward, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
We cover this at length in Recruiting for Diversity: Best Practices for Nurturing Underrepresented Talent. Here, we wanted to offer three examples of diversity recruiting outreach emails that emphasize DEI in their messaging. After all, talent is much more likely to respond to outreach if they get the sense that DEI is a core company commitment, baked into your organization’s DNA. That said, the recipients of your outreach might come from a variety of sources—referrals, talent you met at industry events, folks you discovered on LinkedIn or other social platforms, and so on. With referrals, the referrer may know the prospect well enough to be able to tell you how they identify. With talent you meet out in the world (or in the virtual world these days), you may have already been able to ask those questions before you returned to your talent CRM and put them in a project.
Take particular care around folks you find on social platforms. The vast majority of demographic data you can collect on someone isn’t “observable” from their profile picture: think sexual orientation, gender identity, physical disability, and ethnicity. In some sense it’s true that talent is “self-identifying” all the time. They self-identify through the groups they belong to, the organizations they support, and the events they participate in. They self-identify through whom they follow and the content they share on social media. They self-identify on their LinkedIn profiles when they mention whom they’ve mentored and where they’ve volunteered. People are sharing more about themselves publicly than ever before; and your prospects are leaving virtual breadcrumbs that point toward their demographics. You should absolutely pay attention to these things. But just because their LinkedIn profile says they volunteered for the Human Rights Campaign doesn’t mean they identify as LGBTQ+. (Though it almost certainly means that’s a demographic they care about!)
So use the information talent puts out there, yes… but be conscientious about not slotting talent into a demographic unless you hear directly from them that that’s a category they identify with. While identity-specific outreach campaigns can be invaluable, so can a nurture campaign that speaks to DEI more broadly. These kinds of campaigns can help underrepresented folks feel that, even if their specific difference isn’t named, they’ll be safe at your company.
Example Diversity Recruiting Outreach for a Female Engineer
Subject: What’s Your Next Career Move, Emily?
Hi there Emily,
My name is Kelly Arnone and I’m the CEO at X App. I discovered your profile on LinkedIn this week while looking for a DevOps engineer for our fast-growing team.
If you’re getting a lot of emails about career opportunities these days—and I’m sure you are!—I imagine you’re not hearing much from CEOs directly. But I attribute the success we’ve seen so far at X App in part to my dedication to finding the best talent, putting them in the same room, and watching them flourish.
That’s why I commit so much of my own personal time to sourcing and outreach. I’d love to tell you all about our infrastructure and in-house tools; but before anything, I’d want to know that X App was offering you a culture you felt you could thrive in. Here are some resources I think you’d be interested in:
- A one-year anniversary reflection from our lead engineer, Deena, about what made her choose X App and what she’s learned in her time here
- A video from our recent Women in Tech meetup—with our recent Series B funding, we’ll have a big enough office to hold these onsite when we return from working remotely!
- We were recently voted a Top Company for Employee Resource Groups, which we’re thrilled to add to our 100% CEI score from the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index
If this sounds like a ring you’d like to throw your hat into—or even a company you’d like to keep on your radar!—I’d love to grab a coffee with you.
I look forward to getting to talk to you soon, Emily,
Kelly Arnone (she/her)
CEO, X App
Example Diversity Recruiting Outreach for a Black AE
[Note: The below is an example of outreach that focuses on culture and belonging broadly speaking. While we’re writing to a Black prospect, you’ll note that there’s nothing in this outreach that refers to blackness. While it’s important to acknowledge and celebrate people's identities, if every single interaction you have with talent highlights their underrepresented identity, they may reasonably wonder if they're being tokenized—that is, if you're seeking them out just because of who they are, not for the awesome skills they also bring to the table. So play around with different ways to engage underrepresented talent. This email links to the company's demographic stats (where hopefully Travis will discover something great about representation—Black and otherwise—at ZenLend). And the reference to the monthly opportunity to work on passion projects or take a self-care day would alert Travis to the fact that the company cares about all of its employees’ mental health and well-being. A commitment to equity is baked into that policy.]
Subject: Read (and loved!) your Medium articles
My name is Javier and I’m working alongside one of our AEs (Jeff) at ZenLend to find the best Enterprise AE out there.
ZenLend is a newer arrival to the B2B lending space; but we came out of the gate strong two years ago and have moved with remarkable speed ever since. Last year we opened our second engineering hub in Chicago, raised $47M in funding, and we’re on track to double in size by next year. Our next hire on the sales side will initiate and own our enterprise sales strategy.
Your LinkedIn profile led me to both your articles on sales team leadership on Medium. I’m really impressed by the thought and consideration you’ve put into running your teams. It sounds like culture is a top priority for you—we’re with you!—so I thought you might be interested in checking out our team’s own Culture Page, where you’ll find everything from our demographic stats to our best-in-class benefits. (One of my favorite benefits is that, on top of our generous vacation policy, ZenLenders are given one day a month off to work on their own passion projects or take a self-care day. Last month, Jeff spent his day at the MoMA with his 12-year-old daughter, Jasmin. He wrote about the experience here.)
I’d love to tell you about our plan to open up a new market this year and about how we see experimentation and autonomy as central to a world-class sales team. Would you be open to hopping on a quick call this week so I can tell you about it?
Looking forward to hearing from you,
Javier Hernandez (he/him/his)
ZenLend (on Twitter / on Instagram)
Example Recruiting Outreach for a “Queer”/Queer-Inclusive Product Manager
[Note: We “found” this prospective candidate on LinkedIn. Their profile said that while in undergrad, they worked with the Office of Multicultural Affairs to develop an online program to interface with students struggling with LGBT issues. They also gave talks at recent Lesbians who Tech and Out in Tech events. Once again, none of this means that they identify as queer (that’s why we put scare quotes there)! But it does point to the fact that they care about that community. So we crafted our outreach with that in mind.]
Subject: Chat before your pilates class this week?
Happy Friday! I hope this finds you well. My name is Carmen and I’m a recruiter at heal.io, the digital health application just named one of the Top 10 Startups to Work for in the Bay Area.
I’m writing because I love your background in health tech. (Your LinkedIn profile tells me you also teach pilates?! I go twice a week in the Outer Mission!) I don’t have to tell you what an incredibly meaningful time it is to be in our industry; and I wonder if you’ve considered what’s next after your current role? We’ve got a product manager role open right now, and I have a suspicion you’d be a great fit for it. The culture at heal.io is like no company I’ve ever worked for. Here’s why:
- Diversity and inclusion are top priorities for our CEO (you can see his recent talk on our DEI initiatives here)
- We’ve got a strong mentorship program that’s allowed newer mid-level employees to see terrific promotion rates
- We put on quarterly talent events (next month’s mixer is called “Women in Health Tech”, October’s panel is “The State of LGBTQ+ Visibility in Health Tech.” I’d love to see you at either or both!)
Sound like a place you’d want to grow your career? If so, I’d love to chat this week… How’s Thursday at noon?
Carmen Hudson, she / her / hers
P.S. At heal.io, we know how important it is to have a diverse team in order to have a strong one. That's why we want to build relationships with as broad a range of talent as we can... even before you apply. If you’d like to help us do that, we’d love for you to fill out this short form to tell you a little bit about yourself.
Of course, your diversity recruiting initiatives will demand a lot more than some good messaging. The great thing about these examples is that each of them points to proof of company commitment. But if your organization is just starting out on its diversity initiatives, be honest. Let prospects know the steps you’re taking internally to make the workplace inclusive and equitable for the new talent you hope to bring in. In these early stages, transparency and candor go a long way.