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Finding the Right Fit as a Diverse Candidate

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Hiring managers need candidates who will fit in with the existing culture at their company. Candidates want to find a place that’s welcoming and makes them feel comfortable. Businesses and job seekers both want a rewarding and mutually beneficial exchange. But sometimes, that’s easier said than done.

The job search can be isolating and frustrating without also having to navigate employment biases. For those of us who belong to a marginalized group, entering a new environment can add pressure to an already-stressful situation. Diverse candidates who are looking for their next role are often faced with questions like, “Will I be comfortable embracing my culture with this company?” and “If I reveal my identity, will I be safe at this new job?”

Are Companies Changing to Attract More Diverse Candidates?

Many companies audit their hiring process to encourage a diverse applicant pool. This includes updating their Equal Employment Opportunity policies and listing those objectives in their job descriptions. They may also remove names and addresses from resumes before they are reviewed to try to eliminate any potential biases. While this is a great start, it doesn’t change the fact that many companies still struggle to hire candidates of color, queer candidates, and other protected identities under Title VII.

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Without visible opportunities for diverse candidates, many qualified professionals are passed over—or they’re discouraged from even applying in the first place. “Diversity and Inclusion” is a familiar buzzword companies use to promote their employer brand. Yet, when it comes to their workforce, these ideals aren’t always represented.

So, as a diverse candidate searching for your next role, how do you determine if you’ll be respected and accepted in a new workplace? There are many ways to start your investigation.

How Can Candidates Determine if a Company Is Actually Inclusive?

  • Research the company’s “Meet Our Team” page to see if there are a range of identities visible. Check out the company on LinkedIn to see what their workforce looks like and where they come from.
  • Ask for a copy of the EEO policy from HR and review it to see if your identity is prioritized. Many companies have not yet included “gender identity” and “sexual orientation” in these statements.
  • Network with people at the company to see if you like the company culture. Ask questions about the relationships between coworkers.
  • Pay attention to the people on the hiring committee. If the committee appears diverse, can you identify with any members? If you don’t relate to them, ask yourself if this feels like a warning sign.
  • Ask questions during your interview about ongoing diversity training and initiatives. Their responses can help you gauge how important D&I are to the higher-ups.
  • Request a tour during your interview so you can experience the culture firsthand. Show the company how you interact with other employees when you meet them.
  • Trust your instincts! If something doesn’t feel right, keep looking for another employer. Nobody wants to be treated like a token employee who is only there to meet a diversity quota.

Spend some time reflecting on what’s important to you in a new workplace. What are your deal-breakers? Do you want to work for a company that doesn’t respect or celebrate who you are? Think about how important it is for you to be open at work. Weigh these responses against how you felt during the interview before you make any decisions about accepting an offer.

Only you can determine how you present yourself as a candidate. No one else chooses what goes on your resume or what questions you ask the interviewers. If visibility is important to you, consider being more open about these parts of yourself. Voicing your priorities will help you find a work environment that will be rewarding and safe.

About the Author

Amber Crow is a Career Advisor for Ivy Exec with three years of experience. She is focused on promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace through her website TheQueerCareerBlog.com.