How the World’s № 1 Job Site Addresses Equity in Hiring

The JFF Changemakers series tells the stories of people at the center of a growing movement that’s reshaping the way companies invest in the well-being and advancement of their workers.

Who are the Changemakers? They are corporate visionaries who are stepping up and stepping out to do something extraordinary. The Changemakers are passionate about their companies and intuitively see how their businesses can positively impact the lives of employees and their communities. They combine a business sense with human empathy to create opportunities for others to improve their lives while also achieving the company’s business objectives. They want to make the world a better place to live and work.

We invite you to meet the Changemakers and to help us celebrate and support their collective efforts.

Indeed’s director of social impact explains how employers can be active innovators, not observers, in breaking down hiring barriers in the job market.

“A résumé is a poor indicator of a person’s actual job skills.”

When policymakers and educators look for ways to help low-income and underemployed people get better jobs, they frequently focus on expanding college access, improving graduation rates, or doing a better job of linking education to careers. But what if more, or better, education is not the answer?

Much has been written about degree inflation, or the growing number of employers that require applicants to have four-year degrees for jobs that don’t require college-level skills, but few solutions exist. Given the high volume of applications submitted for every job opening, employers need ways to quickly determine which candidates have the required skills and abilities. A college degree is an easy-to-use, if inaccurate, proxy.

Abigail Carlton, the first director of social impact at Indeed, is helping to change that practice.

Indeed is a powerful player in the global market for talent. The world’s № 1 job site, Indeed has more than 250 million unique visitors per month. Carlton’s focus at Indeed is to find innovative ways to help address bias and barriers in the hiring process so that everyone gets a fair shot. She partners with Indeed’s employer clients and its product technology teams to find ways to drive more inclusive hiring through Indeed’s core products and services.

Carlton joined Indeed in 2018, and in her short time there, much of her work has focused on how these two Indeed products can help nontraditional candidates get good jobs:

  • Indeed Assessments, a skills-based screening platform that allows nontraditional job candidates to showcase their qualifications
  • Employer Hiring Events, where Indeed and Goodwill partner with Indeed clients to host hiring events at Goodwill locations using Indeed’s event management tools, providing opportunities for on-the-spot job offers

These are two examples of tools that Indeed has introduced to help employers think beyond the traditional resume and expand their pool of candidates.

JFF’s Carey O’Connor spoke with Carlton about why she is so passionate about these initiatives and her work at Indeed.

O’Connor: Let’s get started with the basics. Tell us about Indeed Assessments. How does it work?

Carlton: Indeed Assessments is an online library of skills tests for a variety of hard and soft skills. Indeed launched Assessments in mid-2018 and the uptake by businesses and job seekers since then has been incredible.

Jobseekers can take these assessments for free, and they can choose whether to post their results on their Indeed résumés. Employers can also send assessments to candidates as part of their hiring process.

I’m excited about the potential for Indeed Assessments to help nontraditional candidates get good jobs. Résumés are the primary tool employers currently use to screen candidates during the hiring process, but we know that a résumé only tells a partial story of what a candidate brings to the table. This is especially true for jobseekers with barriers who might not have “traditional” work or education experience. Assessments help us move away from relying on résumés to focus on whether applicants have the skills required to do the job, regardless of where they acquired those skills.

As we continue to build out this new product, it has the potential to help us shift toward skills-based hiring — changing how we match people to jobs and helping jobseekers identify the jobs for which they are a strong fit today as well as the skills they need to build to be more competitive for other jobs in the future.

What about Indeed Hiring Events — aren’t they just traditional job fairs?

Yes and no.

Job fairs have been around for a long time for a reason: They allow jobseekers and employers to make a quick face-to-face connection. Online job search has made it easier to connect in some ways, but for jobseekers with barriers, the in-person connection is often still very important.

What’s different about Indeed’s hiring events is the combination of the in-person experience with Indeed’s technology platform, which allows employers to advertise and manage in-person hiring events.

Goodwill Industries International is the first signature nonprofit partner for our social impact work. We are working with local Goodwills across the United States to bring Hiring Events with Indeed clients to Goodwill Career Centers. The early evidence from these pilots suggests this may be an effective way to help jobseekers with barriers get in front of employers and expose employers to talent they might have overlooked otherwise.

Why is this work important to you?

I grew up in the rural Midwest in the 1980s and ’90s, when plant closures and layoffs were a constant threat.

My family moved to Michigan right before I started high school. The auto industry was going through profound consolidation, and the depth of the impact on those communities is still hard to fully understand. I saw what happened to families and communities when the jobs started to go away. It had a strong impact on me. It gave me a deeply embedded sense of how important work is in our lives, and that not everyone has access to the same opportunities.

How did you connect with Indeed?

In 2018 when the opportunity came up with Indeed, I was managing the Rockefeller Foundation’s U.S. Jobs and Economic Opportunity initiative. We were helping employers innovate on their talent practices to remove hiring barriers for underrepresented populations.

That work was incredibly rewarding, but I was intrigued by the opportunity to take it a step further by helping Indeed develop their social impact strategy. Indeed was founded as a purpose-driven company — our mission is to help people get jobs. So social impact is part of Indeed’s DNA. But before I came on board, there was no formal social impact function. There had been pockets of activity, but nothing organized at scale.

Indeed offered a different set of tools to bring to this important work, and that was exciting.

You and your team have done a lot in a short period of time. What’s next?

We’ve only just scratched the surface with our assessments platform and hiring events. We are also working closely with our product development partners to identify additional opportunities to help jobseekers who face barriers. And we are working to operationalize social impact at Indeed so that it is part of people’s everyday jobs.

Do you have any advice for other corporate leaders focused on equity and inclusion in hiring?

I have been working on the intersection between jobs and economic opportunity for my entire career. I have seen many approaches when it comes to addressing the employment challenges facing low-wage workers. My favorite advice is, “Fall in love with the problem, not the solution.” Being wed to one solution prevents you from thinking critically and being open to innovative ideas. If we are creative and open-minded and listen to each other, we can break through to the next level of impact.

The Changemakers series is produced as part of JFF’s Corporate Action Platform, which features stories of Impact Employers. Visit JFF.org for more information about Impact Employers. This interview was condensed and edited for clarity.

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JFF (Jobs for the Future) is a national nonprofit that builds educational and economic opportunity for underserved populations in the United States.

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