2018 DEI Trends: Sourcing Candidates with Non-Traditional Credentials

Last week I published the second of six posts exploring emerging trends for diversity, equity, & inclusion (DEI) professionals. This week’s post examines how we can source candidates with non-traditional credentials to meet the high demand for talent in booming industries such as tech, healthcare, and green energy. To compete for the best and brightest, HR departments must consider new strategies to recruit high potential talent given the historically low unemployment rate, which has increased the demand for skilled workers.

Industry leaders thinking outside of the recruiting box include those recruiters in the tech industry. These recruiters have opened up their candidate pools to draw upon individuals that have successfully cultivated their skill-sets through non-traditional training programs like coding bootcamps. Coding bootcamps continue to emerge in localities across the country  considering that half a million of today’s five million open jobs in the United States are in tech, and the shortage of skilled workers remains significant.

Sourcing candidates from beyond traditional tech and engineering institutions makes sense given that nearly 40 percent of today’s IT jobs can be done without four-year degrees. In other words, a traditional computer science or engineering degree doesn’t necessarily translate into immediate success in the industry. Tech titans like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are two individuals that immediately underscore this point. Both Jobs and Gates dropped out of college to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams, and ultimately put a gigantic dent in virtually every industry on the planet.


While the tech industry draws upon some of the 95 coding bootcamps in the United States alone, industry leaders in healthcare also understand the value of effectively sourcing high potential talent from non-traditional pipelines. In order to effectively source talent, healthcare leaders continue to build their own pipelines to develop middle-skill jobs. Developing these pipelines are a direct response to the high demand for skilled workers in the United States’ fastest growing industry. According to a recent Urban Institute report, building middle-skill pipelines goes beyond simply hiring workers for middle skills jobs, and includes activities like:

  • Developing entry-level health care workers for advancement
  • Investing in middle-skill job training for veteran employees
  • Offering coaching support to help workers advance
  • Creating new positions with greater responsibility and purpose with higher pay
  • Building partnerships across the industry to create reliable pipelines

Green energy leaders have also reimagined recruiting high potential talent from nontraditional sources. Partnering with the U.S. Department of Labor in 2011, industry leaders were already hard at work developing key strategies to strengthen the green job talent pipeline by including opportunities for people with disabilities to increase employment and economic self-sufficiency. Strategies to engage talented adults with disabilities in the green energy field include: 1) offering subsidized professional training opportunities; 2) building strategic alliances to identify and connect talent to existing opportunities; and, 3) promoting inclusion by dedicating a set number of training opportunities for people with disabilities, as well as for people from other underrepresented groups in the industry.

Bottom line – leaders from across booming industries short on talent, yet abundant with new recruiting strategies continue to reimagine recruiting pipelines. These leaders often build their own non-traditional pipelines to attract the best and brightest talent, which more often than not, emerges from non-traditional backgrounds. As your firm continues to evolve and compete for high potential talent, subscribe to the RPC Belonging at Work Newsletter for more ideas, strategies, and solutions to help address your specific workplace inclusion challenges.

Rhodes Perry

Rhodes Perry is a nationally recognized expert on LGBTQ and social justice public policy matters, with two decades of leadership experience innovating strategy management, policy and program solutions for corporations, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. At his core, Rhodes is an entrepreneur, where he most recently established Rhodes Perry Consulting, LLC, a national diversity and inclusion consulting firm that uses an intersectional approach to collaborate with leaders on creating solutions in the practice areas of strategy management, issue advocacy, and stakeholder engagement. Previously, Rhodes founded the Office of LGBTQ Policy & Practice at the New York City Administration for Children’s Services, and prior to this assignment he served as the founding Director of Policy at PFLAG National where he led the policy strategy and advocacy efforts for the organization’s 350 chapters. He cut his teeth serving as a Program Examiner at the White House Office of Management & Budget, where he improved upon federal benefit programs designed to provide assistance to low-income communities. Rhodes earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Gender Studies from the University of Notre Dame, and obtained a Master of Public Administration from New York University.