More than 13% of Americans are Spanish speakers. The United States is currently the country with the second-most Spanish speakers, behind only Mexico. By 2050, the U.S. is expected to beat Mexico out for that title, becoming the country with the most Spanish speakers in the world.
As the Hispanic community continues to grow, demand for top bilingual employees is sure to grow with it. How can you stay competitive when attracting and recruiting Spanish speakers?
If you aren’t Hispanic or don’t speak Spanish yourself, recruiting and hiring bilingual employees may seem especially daunting. Where can you find Spanish-speaking workers? And how do you vet that they speak Spanish at the level you require?
Hiring top performers is like selling a great product or service. You need to define and analyze your target market and then make sure your company is attractive to that market. While not all Spanish speakers are Hispanic and not all Hispanic people speak Spanish, the Hispanic community is the demographic with the largest concentration of Spanish speakers. Focusing on this community will yield the most Spanish-speaking candidates.
When recruiting and hiring within the Hispanic community, it’s important to remember:
- Family and community are at the center of Hispanic culture.
- Hispanic job seekers rely heavily on their networks — family, friends, and colleagues.
- Hispanic job seekers prefer personal interactions to impersonal processes.
- The Hispanic community is diverse in terms of country of origin, length of time in the U.S., number of generations in the U.S., education level, and geographic distribution.
- Spanish-speaking proficiency varies, even among native speakers.
With this in mind, here are five simple ways to attract top Spanish-speaking talent.
1. Leverage your existing employees’ networks
In our recent Recruiting Metrics Report, we found that an applicant sourced through a referral was eighteen times more likely to be hired than an applicant from a job board. This means that one of the easiest and most effective ways to generate hiring leads is through your existing employees, so let your employees know that you are hiring!
Hispanic workers are happy to connect a good friend with a good job. In fact, they’re 50% more likely than non-Hispanics to find a job through friends and family! Of course, it’s important to make sure that your employees feel valued before you attempt to recruit through them. Since Hispanic workers trust their networks first, the opinion of one disgruntled employee can easily outweigh any number of glowing online reviews.
Creating an employee referral program (ERP) is a great way to leverage employee networks. An effective ERP can reduce time to hire, increase retention, and improve the quality of hires. Remember to bring up the ERP at your weekly meetings or in a company memo.
2. Build a talent pipeline
Oftentimes, recruiters wait to have an opening before they begin hiring. This reactive approach can lead to understaffed locations, sub-par candidates, and ineffective hires. Instead, take a proactive approach and build a talent pipeline from which you can pull quality hires.
How you build your pipeline will depend on your location and industry. If you’re looking for technicians, reach out to your local trade schools and community colleges. Let them know that you are on the hunt for hard-working, Spanish speaking students. Foster a relationship with their counselors or career centers.
If you are looking to fill administrative roles, reach out to professional Hispanic organizations such as:
- The Association of Latino Professionals for America
- The Hispanic Business Student Association
- The National Society of Hispanic MBAs
- The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers
You understand your industry best. Take a moment to trace your employees’ paths to your company. Chances are, there’s a whole pool of talent hidden somewhere along that timeline.
3. Connect with community leaders
Since Hispanic culture is centered on the community, respect for authority is also highly valued. When there is a problem to be solved, Hispanic workers will turn first to their family leaders and then to their community leaders for guidance. By connecting with local leaders, you can meet these job seekers where they are.
Finding local leaders can be as simple as walking into the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce or a local Spanish-speaking church. The Chamber of Commerce can put your posting up on their job board and give you advice for connecting with Hispanic workers. The local priest might know of a parishioner struggling in their job search. Some churches welcome “Help Wanted” announcements in their bulletins. Local nonprofits and community centers that cater to the Hispanic community can also be great leads when looking for Spanish-speaking talent.
4. Identify where to find bilingual people
Where you place your job ad will depend on your industry, your location, and the demographic you want to attract. Online advertising can’t be underestimated. More than 75% of Hispanics report using job search sites, and one-third of Hispanics have been influenced by social media in their job search. Having a job post written in Spanish and sharing that job post to social media will increase your likelihood of being found by those searching in Spanish.
For some positions, physical flyers placed on bulletin boards in high-traffic areas could be your best bet. Find out which supermarkets, churches, and apartment complexes are frequented by Hispanic people in your community, and post your ads there. Using your logo and branding will lend the flyers credibility.
If you often advertise on the radio or in the newspaper, look into advertising on Spanish-speaking radio and the local Latino newsletter instead. Hispanics are 2.5 times more likely than non-Hispanics to use newspapers in their job search.
5. Make the application process easy
Once the recruitment plan is in place, it’s time to look at the application process. No matter who you’re hiring, you want to make the application as clear and painless as possible. This way you’re saving both the applicant and yourself any headaches.
When hiring Spanish speakers, make it clear in the job post what level of Spanish you’re looking for. For example:
- Must speak and write Spanish fluently
- Bilingual in Spanish and English preferred
- Bilingual preferred; at a minimum, the ability to understand and to make oneself understood in Spanish
- Excellent verbal and written communications skills required in English and Spanish
- Bilingual and able to read, write, and speak Spanish proficiently
If you don’t speak Spanish and the candidate’s primary language is Spanish, having a trusted Spanish speaker present for the interview can help you overcome the language barrier.
Many bilingual Americans speak colloquial Spanish but not business Spanish. If you require a professional level of Spanish speaking and writing, a language proficiency assessment can help you decide if the candidate meets language requirements.
Hispanic workers, particularly women, tend to be uncomfortable bragging about their professional accomplishments. They would prefer their work to “speak for itself.” This may influence how candidates respond to interview questions. If you feel that a candidate is skirting around their accomplishments, ask them about their past work or how their past supervisors would describe them.
Here’s a success story about how one of CareerPlug’s clients, Molly Maid, used CareerPlug to help make the application process easier for Spanish speaking candidates.
- Where can you connect with local Spanish speakers in your community? Explore your local resources and connect with leaders.
- Review your job descriptions. Make your requirements for both English and Spanish proficiency clear in the job ad, and make sure the description focuses on compensation, steady hours, and a career path.
- Post your job in Spanish! Having a job post in Spanish and sharing it on social media will increase your visibility to Spanish speaking job seekers. Make sure you list the level of English proficiency you’re looking for.