If you are at a company in any highly competitive niche or industry like ad tech, you likely have jobs to fill – and you’re trying to grow your team during the most intense “war on talent” in recent memory.

With small talent pools to begin with, finding the right candidates in fields like ours can be difficult. At any given moment, there are a finite number of people who have the requisite skills and experience many of us are looking for, which makes it a tough field for outsiders to crack.

And, on top of all that, it’s critical for us to be committed to building a diverse team. After all, companies that prioritize diversity are more innovative, make better decisions and are more profitable. It’s something we’re actively working on at Viant.

However, since time is typically limited and business pressures are unrelenting, too many companies often end up chasing the same talent pool or recruiting from the same universities. Thus, the lack of diversity has become a self-perpetuating problem.

From our perspective, this challenge warrants a new approach. We’ve been talking to many experts in the field, seeking advice on how to break some of our own hiring patterns and even recognize some of our existing, unseen biases. We’ve come up with four overarching strategies to help us rethink recruitment in 2022.

It is my hope you find these useful as you forge ahead on your own diversity and inclusion (D&I) journey.

Focus on Potential – Not Just Experience

In this business, we tend to view talent through a finite lens – either you have a few years of experience writing code or selling ads or you are outside the consideration set. This inherently limits the number of resumes we even consider, and we’ll be best served by moving on from it; what matters most in this business is intellectual curiosity, the ability to learn and, most of all, grit.

At Viant, we are investing in structured talent selection training with everyone involved in the hiring process. This is to make sure we create diverse interview teams with a keen eye toward hiring for fit and future. We want to people to come grow with us – and we mean it!

Lean on Public and Private Partnerships

There are a growing number of organizations that specialize in D&I recruitment. But given the specificity of our work, we need to do more to push ourselves outside of typical programmatic circles to forge new connections. The best way to do that is often through outside help.

For example, at Viant, we have initiated an internship program partnering with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) that showcases the benefits of exploring a career in ad tech. We are also partnering with a nearby university to develop technology skills and career paths in machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Use Tech to Help

Many companies are using data and software to quantify their D&I progress and to spot shortfalls. Going forward, we should look to tap into these tools to help us identify and track hiring intangibles – and bring some data science to our new approach.

We are piloting new ways to engage technology candidates via open source forums, leveraging virtual tools to accelerate the screening process and, ultimately, using machine learning to improve our assessment process. These are just a few examples of how we create a cool experience for candidates and apply our internal tools to reach the right candidates – anytime, anywhere.

Follow Through After Hiring

This may be the most important strategy. It’s one thing if companies are able to bring in a broader array of diverse hires. Setting them up for success is another matter.

We need to take steps to ensure that new talent is not only developed skill-wise, but professionally. That means making sure new hires are assigned to cross-functional projects and are put in positions to broaden their networks outside of their immediate teams. We are leveraging various tools to ensure new hires have an onboarding plan, which begins before they start, along with a peer buddy to help mentor and guide new team members.

Again, this is not an easy mission to take on – and it’s not one that lends itself to quick fixes. But real progress can come from a few small steps, and the end reward is more than worth it.