Hiring Hispanics Requires Awareness of Differences

Recruiting tips for tapping this growing segment of the labor force

By Theresa Minton-Eversole Oct 9, 2014
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At 54 million strong and growing, the U.S. Hispanic population is the largest ethnic minority in the nation from which to recruit. But staffing professionals must learn more about this labor market segment to successfully recruit these workers, according to the latest jobs report released by the Professional Diversity Network.

One of the first steps to improving recruiting of Hispanics is to understand the vast diversity within the community, according to the October 2014 Diversity Jobs Report & Index, published Oct. 2. The Hispanic population represents a wide range of more than 20 countries, and varies greatly in length of time and number of generations in the U.S., geographic footprint, and even family composition, so recruiting tactics to attract the market’s sub-segments must be tailored as well.

For example, there are distinct differences between candidates from “mature” versus “emerging” Hispanic markets. In mature Hispanic markets, such as those found in communities like Phoenix, where 70 percent of the Hispanic population was born in the U.S., job seekers are most often second- and third-generation professionals, frequently college-educated and who speak English as a first language. In fact, many only speak English, noted the report.

By contrast, emerging Hispanic markets include first-generation job seekers, many of whom may be bilingual and have laborer class parents. Emerging communities are largest in states that historically have been immigrant points of entry, such as Texas, New York and California, where cities like Houston, New York City and Los Angeles have some of the country’s largest Hispanic populations.

Large Hispanic communities also are growing in cities like Atlanta, Seattle, Charlotte, N.C., and Washington, D.C. And as Hispanics’ economic mobility increases, more members of this population are moving to the suburbs.

Digitally Savvy Workforce

Hispanics represent the most digitally savvy, socially connected group in the country, with smartphones being indispensable to their lifestyles; 72 percent of the group owns at least one such device, according to a Nielsen Mobile Media Marketplace study cited in the report.

In addition to smartphone use, 64 percent of Hispanics ages 35-49 use tablet devices daily—a significantly higher number than the 56 percent of non-Hispanics in the same age bracket, according to the 2014 PricewaterhouseCoopers report titled Mi Móvil: Hispanic Consumers Embrace Mobile Technology, also cited in the report.

As a result, Hispanics as a group can more easily apply to online job boards, participate in virtual forums and leverage social media tools during their job search—ideal circumstances for businesses seeking to connect with Hispanic job seekers at all levels of employment.

Many Hispanics also heavily rely on personal connections and word-of-mouth during their search for employment. This includes taking advantage of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

Consequently, “technology and digital platforms can grant employers carte blanche to this set of über-engaged candidates who trust job recommendations from friends, family and colleagues,” the report says.

Elusive Educational Opportunities

Educational attainment remains an issue for many Hispanics, with employers regularly reporting that the greatest challenge to recruiting this workforce segment is a “lack of specific skill sets needed” for their business. Indeed, employment growth for this group is primarily attributed to nonprofessional services industries, such as construction and hospitality, which typically include low-wage jobs.

Hispanics have made some gains in both two- and four-year college enrollment. From 1996 to 2012, college enrollment among ages 18 to 24 increased by 240 percent, outpacing increases among blacks (72 percent) and whites (12 percent). Still, the latest data available from the Pew Research Center reveals Hispanics accounted for just 9 percent of young adults (ages 25 to 29) with bachelor’s degrees. Of Hispanics age 25 and older, a mere 13.8 percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Bilingual Benefits

Strong growth in the pharmaceutical, life sciences, technology and financial services

sectors is contributing to the need for bilingual employees. There also is a growing need for bilingual customer service center personnel, receptionists, and medical and legal administrative staff.

The latest U.S. Census revealed that 60.5 million people speak a language other than English at home. Of this group, 62 percent speak Spanish, making it the second most-widely spoken language in America. So employers should make sure language requirements are clearly defined in their job postings, particularly when trying to attract bilingual Hispanic candidates.

Cultural Difference

Compared to other ethnic and racial groups, Hispanics typically don’t engage in self-promotion in their work environments, the job report notes.

A study at Cornell University suggests there is a cultural reticence among Hispanics, particularly among women, to brag about their professional accomplishments. Most say they would prefer to “let their work speak for itself” or allow others to acknowledge the merits of their contributions.

This cultural nuance may be a barrier to employment or a promotion, regardless of the job level or skill qualifications,” the report states.

Attracting Hispanic Talent

The report lists the following recommendations to bolster Hispanic diversity and inclusion initiatives that can help attract and retain this worker population:

  • Identify a trusted advisor to coordinate and advise senior managers on matters specific to Hispanic employee programming.
  • Place existing Hispanic executives out front and center to establish a sense of pride and serve as a “real” recruiting case study.
  • Expand local searches to target national candidates. Many Hispanic professionals will relocate for a promising job opportunity.
  • Support causes of importance to the Hispanic community via partnerships with credible Hispanic organizations.
  • Provide networking opportunities (events, online, etc.) for Hispanics that offer access to the company’s hiring managers.

But no diversity and inclusion effort can operate in a vacuum. To be sustainable, the report says initiatives must be:

  • Championed by senior management.
  • Aligned with the organization’s mission.
  • Actionable and appropriately funded.

Data Collection

The diversity jobs index is derived from a wide cross-section of employers seeking to hire diverse talent using the Professional Diversity Network and representing a variety of industry sectors, geographic regions, and number of full- and part-time employees. DJI has developed a diversity benchmark database from its seven affinity networks, which provides data on worker groups including Hispanics, African Americans, Asians, people with disabilities, women, veterans, and members of the LGBT community.

Theresa Minton-Eversole is an online editor/content manager for SHRM.

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