The Benefits of Networking Properly with the Latinx Community

Written By Andrea Guendelman

Networking accounts for as much as 85 percent of currently held jobs, but for too many young Latinxs, it’s not providing the same benefits and opportunities.

What isn’t often talked about is that networking is inherently self-selecting and it excludes large numbers of millennials, namely Latinxs and young job seekers who don’t have connections to company executives, Ivy League institutions or other professionals who could help them. The path of a first-generation Latinx college student just graduating from school and breaking into the job market today is very different from that of a third-generation Stanford legacy student. Believe it or not, networking doesn’t begin in college, but long before.

Typical networking articles usually advise job seekers to “utilize their rich network of former colleagues, friends, and relatives.” Good advice, but it fails to take into account how different a young Latinx’s professional environment actually is. Latinx communities, even at their most successful, tend to be composed of small business owners and entrepreneurs. Most Latinx parents did not attend college in this country, they don’t have a lawyer friend, or an acquaintance who works for Google. Instead, Latinx millennials end up in a parallel universe, one where big opportunities in the innovation economy simply don’t exist.

This not only hurts millennial Latinxs, but also makes it more difficult for companies to fill jobs and improve hiring and employment diversity. According to the PEW Research Center, Latinxs make up 21 percent of all U.S. millennials, making them the youngest major racial or ethnic group in the United States. Latinx millennials are set to enter the job market and turn it upside down, and yet they are missing many of the best opportunities in the innovation economy because they don’t have the kinds of professional networks recruiters use. A USA Today study shows that at the top universities of the country Latinx graduates with degrees in computer science and computer engineering graduate at twice the rate that leading technology companies hire them. Only half of Latinx with those degrees end up getting hired by the leading tech companies. Even with the right degrees and from the feeding universities, companies are still unable to tap into this labor pool. No matter how vigorously companies recruit at colleges, if they stick to the same set of institutions, they’ll never find us.

So how do you find this smart and growing group of professionals? Gain their trust and stop pitting them against one another. Embrace their community and the values they share.

Most of the current market solutions for the ‘diversity problem’ consist of software, technology recruiters and hiring staff use to engineer a diverse applicant pool. But this technological approach only uses the same system of markers, like where you went to school. Those solutions do little to facilitate personal connections and relationships.

Wallbreakers, a phrase that reads in both English and Spanish, was my response. If millennial Latinxs don’t have readily accessible networks, this platform allows them to build their own in a space that understands the culture and mindset of millenial Latinx job seekers. The platform makes use of the Latinx cultural familiarity and support system and the result is engaged users who feel like they have a tangible impact on a network that grows along with them. It dispels the myth that opportunity is scarce and replaces it with an ethic that proudly proclaims ‘when we grow, we grow together.’ It is a powerful message to get across to millennial users and its working.

We needed a resource that mimicked the way we build relationships in real life. Culturally, Latinxs are more likely to come from a context where work life and community life are intertwined. Businesses are family affairs and it is common for a community make use of their extended network of relatives and friends.

The backbone of the BeVisible community is confidence and trust, something traditional networking sites like LinkedIn, where users define themselves by their resumes and contacts, just aren’t built to do. Instead, we created an authentic community much like our communities at home; a space where millennials can ask for help, can be competitive but not individualistic, and where they don’t have to force themselves to fit into a singular mold. When you can redefine networking as identity and community building you pave the way for millennial engagement. At BeVisible we can move past networking as an awkward or opportunistic lateral professional chore and turn it instead into a space of upward mobility, where users build meaningful relationships and actively invest in their peers’ success.

For recruiters, Wallbreakers is making it easy to access a talented pool of individuals whom they already know self-identify as Latinx, something no other platform is able to do. If you are a company looking to diversify your staff, perusing LinkedIn profiles or waiting for personal recommendations won’t get you very far. In fact, it puts you in the sticky position of trying to figure out and ultimately assign a potential recruit’s background. By using a platform like Be Visible you can trust that you’re tapping into a diverse network and refocus your energy on finding the rightcandidate, instead of just someone who fills a quota. The latter is superficial and lends itself to tokenism. The former, with the help of a platform like Be Visible, allows recruiters to hone in on the person: their qualifications, their character, their fit, even their zip code.

What started as a hunch that the standard professional networking is not working for us, lead to a platform aggregating a highly-skilled pool of qualified professionals who improve diversity. Hiring managers are beginning to connect with Wallbreakers and are seeing a difference in talent. “Diversity” is already here. Now come find us.

Andrea Guendelman is the Founder and CEO of Wallbreakers, an platform that connects some of the country’s most dynamic and forward-thinking companies to Latinx tech talent.

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