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As employers combat staffing shortages in many industries, advisors are not immune. They’re hungry to hire qualified employees.

Advisors with fast-growing practices face a choice: They can either outsource business functions or find promising job candidates and bring them in house. If you decide to beef up your staff with top people, the challenge is harder in today’s tight labor market. And it gets tougher as many advisors seek a diverse mix of staffers to join their firm.

“It has become harder and harder for any firm to find good talent,” said Carina Diamond, chief experience officer at Dakota Wealth Management in Akron, Ohio. “It starts with the culture of the firm. If it’s open to devoting time to mentoring and training at all levels, then it’s an opportunity that comes back to you rather than a burden.”

By creating a learning environment that encourages coaching and information sharing, advisors heighten employee engagement. This increases the odds that team members will refer job applicants who possess the kind of attitude and skills that complement the firm’s makeup.

To attract people from a range of backgrounds, it helps to have a workforce that reflects the world around them. Diversity begets more diversity.

Diamond suggests cultivating relationships with local colleges and high schools to bring interns into the fold. For example, she has forged connections with the University of Akron’s financial planning program.

“Sometimes, professors call us when they have an exceptional student to recommend for our internship,” she said. “Our profession is straining to find talent, so getting involved with different schools by mentoring or guest speaking to their classes” introduces students to Diamond’s firm and a potential career path.

Showcase Your Firm’s Best Image To Potential Job Candidates

To increase her firm’s access to a diverse pool of young talent, Diamond serves on the board of Diversitas, a group formed in 2016 that seeks to expand the participation of underrepresented groups in the profession by mitigating barriers to entry such as a lack of education and awareness.

“Part of what we do is educate career influencers such as teachers, guidance counselors and parents,” Diamond said. The goal is to help these influencers, as well as students themselves, view financial planning as an inclusive and fulfilling profession.

Another strategy to raise awareness of a financial planning career involves funding a scholarship. Firms can partner with a university to offer a prize to, say, women interested in finance.

“The mere existence of a scholarship tells parents, ‘Oh, there’s an opportunity for my daughter,’ “Diamond said. Offering $1,000 every year to a rising star can in itself build a firm’s visibility and funnel top candidates into the company’s pipeline.

Every firm has an image of itself that it projects to the public. For advisors looking to diversify their workforce, it helps to showcase current employees while citing inclusion as a priority. Increasingly, advisors realize that their talent pool needs to reflect the client base they seek to serve in the future.

Small firms may lack a diverse mix of employees. But you can still emphasize your commitment to mentorship and providing career opportunities for a range of high-potential candidates.

Compose Job Descriptions That Emphasize Inclusion

“Diverse candidates look for firms that look like them, that reflect their values,” said Antonia Burchman, director of growth at Los Angeles-based Miracle Mile Advisors. “So lead by example. Build your firm from the ground up” with a focus on diversity.

She encourages advisors to highlight their entire staff on the firm’s website, not just the leadership team. Consider including photos and short bios to add a personal dimension to the “About Us” or “Who We Are” section.

To convey each employee’s personality, Miracle Mile Advisors designed its website so that as visitors scroll over each staffer’s head shot, another photo appears that shows that person engaging in a hobby or otherwise captures a more personal side.

When openings arise, craft your job descriptions with care. Anticipate what candidates might value highly and underscore how your firm accommodates them.

“I know for our top women advisors, flexibility is very important,” Burchman said. “That’s especially true for working moms. So try building out your job description with language such as ‘extended maternity leave’ or ‘work-from-home.’ Articulate what your firm can offer.”

When a new hire comes aboard, promote the news on social media and other communication channels. Create internal incentives for employees to refer friends to fill open positions. And ask your existing team for ideas on outreach and recruitment initiatives to attract applicants of different backgrounds.

“Make a plan (to hire diverse employees) and be intentional with your time and efforts,” Burchman said.