A new ‘Guide on Redesigning the Tech Hiring Process to Include Displaced Talent’ is a collaboration by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Refugee Action Hub, Na’amal, TalentLift, the Tent Partnership for Refugees, and World Education Services, with sponsorship by World Education Services.
The tech sector needs talent, and people living and working in tech within refugee populations need livelihood opportunities. This guide of practical ideas aims to help teams design their hiring process to more successfully recruit displaced talent.
The talent gap across the tech industry and other industries recruiting for tech is significant. As a Forbes writer quipped, “the pandemic transformed nearly every organization into a tech company.” Canadian companies face a shortage of 200,000 software developers. Nearly 80% of CEOs in the United States are concerned about filling tech roles, and it’s projected to get worse.
Meanwhile, there are immensely talented people working or trying to work in tech, who are living in refugee and displaced populations around the world, searching for international jobs. They keenly want a place in the talent pipeline.
Work conditions can be extremely difficult in the countries where they live. Many work for lower pay and longer hours than their non-refugee peers, without job security, and without work rights and other legal protection to rely on. Life at home can be highly stressful because of low incomes and fearing for the safety, health or future prospects of loved ones. Despite all this, people find ways to grow their skills, continue learning, undertake passion projects, and look for new opportunities. Their accomplishments in these circumstances show remarkable perseverance, ingenuity, creativity, and drive.
Pioneering companies are sourcing displaced tech talent as part of their talent acquisition strategies, in recognition of the human potential and the transformative impact of extending a job opportunity in Canada or beyond to someone who’s living displaced. The Tech Talent Welcome Council network of companies across Canada is one example of this growing community.
As more teams explore this underleveraged talent pool, they may find a design opportunity: Recruitment processes can be adjusted to recognize and overcome some of the challenges facing qualified candidates that are unique to their displaced circumstances. For example, candidates may be unfamiliar with interview formats, and can face cultural differences in representing their experience or their interest in the company. Employers can be unfamiliar with how domestic interviewing norms differ from international ones, lack the flexibility to accommodate scheduling and connectivity challenges, and screen for particular skills that are uncommon in other markets such as software testing automation.
This guide presents some of the challenges experienced by teams and candidates during the hiring process, and ideas to overcome them. The ideas range from smaller tweaks to larger redesigns towards a more inclusive hiring process.
The insights and ideas are drawn from a co-design workshop series in September 2021. The workshop convened six tech hiring teams across Canada, candidates who are currently living displaced, and supporting non-profit or training organizations with a goal to explore practical ways to better bridge job and relocation opportunities and the unique circumstances of displaced job seekers.
Why hire displaced tech talent?
- Access an underleveraged candidate pool with in-demand tech skills and high potential
- Gain knowledge and experience of different cultures, regions, and socio-economic circumstances that will expand diversity of thought on the team
- Gain creative, agile problem-solvers who have remarkable perseverance and determination
- Engage your team in a transformative change for peers in refugee or displaced circumstances, and in enriching community-building when new hires can relocate alongside their families from displacement
Excerpts from the ‘Guide on Redesigning the Tech Hiring Process to Include Displaced Talent.’