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For Employers: 5 Things You Can Do To Start Building Your Apprenticeship Program Right Now

1. Crown Yourself the Program Champion

Don’t wait for someone to pick you at your company. You don’t need anyone’s permission yet. If you care and are passionate about inclusion and equity in recruiting and hiring, you’re the one!

2. Host a Mock Interview Training with a Partner Organization

Don’t know how to start? There are probably countless non-profits and schools in your local area who are overlooked by most employers. Choose one and schedule a mock interview training event! This will help you identify more champions, mentors, and allies within your company.

Don’t worry, you can create buy-in and justify the value because an experience like this also helps train new or rusty engineers on your interview and calibration process, and provides an opportunity to discuss the type of inclusive environment and culture to welcome all candidates.

Case Study: Reddit

Over the last few years, Reddit has developed a close relationship with various non-traditional training programs in San Francisco, notably Hackbright and Dev Bootcamp. Reddit’s recruiting and engineering teams regularly team up to host mock interview events to train engineers and to support students in a more friendly learning environment. If they discover a student they think is incredible who they want to work with, they try to follow up to hire and fill positions. Their CEO and CTO often participate, showing an overview of their tech stack and progression of their technology over time. It’s jam packed with learning and insights for everyone!

3. Re-evaluate and Re-define the “Hiring Bar”

The so-called “hiring bar” at most companies is pretty notoriously ambiguous and biased. Each engineer may cite a different background, skill, quality, trait or ability leading them to rate a candidate highly.

Consider facilitating a discussion with your engineers and/or leadership about how to make the standardized rubric evaluation process as specific, tangible, and quantifiable as possible.

An excellent outcome from such a discussion would be creating a structured interview format and standardized company-wide candidate evaluation rubric for entry level engineers.

While you’re at it, it turns out many underrepresented candidates do a rigorous self-evaluation based on your needs and wants stated in your job posting, too. Don’t forget those job descriptions! They’re a candidates first set of keywords, tools, and tech they’re using to evaluate themselves.

Utilize a tool like Textio to make your job descriptions more neutral or inclusive, so more candidates apply. Remove unnecessary acronyms and industry jargon that’s ultimately unnecessary and may alienate candidates. Overall, your job descriptions shouldn’t look like a wish list for Santa Claus! Keep it real.

Does your whole team follow the same evaluation process in hiring already? You’re already using Textio? That’s great. Congrats!

What about publishing your rubric online along with some open topics to study and prepare for candidates to review?

Case Study: Medium

Back in 2016, Medium open sourced their criteria and rubric for evaluating talent. This garnered a lot of attention from other companies in the industry, and has served as an example of what clarity and transparency can do to make you stand out as an employer. It’s notable that they outlined both what they look for and what they do not look for. You can learn more and dig in reading their 4 part blog about the process here.

4. Design a Brand New Screening Process

Make a business case for experimenting with your existing hiring process.

A bunch of qualified candidates fall out doing your timed HackerRank test? Maybe that’s test anxiety. Maybe they’re not familiar with writing and testing code in that environment. Let’s change that.

What if we used just a couple essay questions describing their technical projects instead? Could we try that?

Can we eliminate the use of names in the early part of our hiring process? How would we do that, and what might that look like?

Invent your dream screening process from scratch, with the existing data and organizational knowledge you have, and pitch it within your apprenticeship as a way to drive value across the engineering organization.

Case Study: LinkedIn REACH

When LinkedIn launched the 1st iteration of their hugely successful REACH apprenticeship in early 2017, it started as a broad set of experiments aimed to inform and improve their traditional hiring process. How could their hiring process be made more unbiased, equitable and accessible? They removed evaluation of LinkedIn profiles and resumes completely, anonymized all candidates, gathered hundreds of volunteer employees to review essays to learn about who candidates are through their stories instead of through their pedigree, and primarily evaluated technical ability based on existing projects rather than live coding. Instead of hiring an inaugural cohort of 15 apprentices as planned, LinkedIn found nearly double the number of qualified candidates with this experiment. LinkedIn’s team was excited to hire a total of 29 inaugural apprentices, and what they’ve learned from these changes provides context and clarity for solutions in hiring engineering roles outside the apprenticeship.

5. Just Do It!

Wait, what? It’s not that easy. We know.

Want to join a group of peers who are in the same boat, plus a bunch of companies who are farther ahead in the process than you?

Apply to join our Slack community! We’ll see you there!



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Kamrin Klauschie

Kamrin Klauschie

Be the hustle you wish to see in the world.