By Ashley Mosley
SAN FRANCISCO (TheStreet) -- It's the most important question for the modern recruiter: How do you cultivate a young, diverse workforce -- filled with varying backgrounds, educational experiences and skill sets -- on a budget? After all, not everyone can afford to use pricey gamification tactics or attend expensive networking events.
You may face this question quite frequently, particularly as you begin recruiting for an internship program. Research shows that 81% of companies say diversity hiring is a priority for them; 56% of startups will focus on recruiting more women in tech, while the majority of companies will focus on recruiting more minorities.
When you want to recruit a diverse fleet of interns but must keep your budget in check, consider these ways to nab diverse internship candidates for $100 or less:
Use niche posting sites
Behemoth job boards may come with hidden fees or application costs. Push them aside and check out the many niche posting sites out there, some of which cater to your specific industry. Many are even free. Not only can you reach students and young professionals quickly; you'll also find that many niche boards have club and university partnerships, which can increase your reach.
Hold a virtual career fair
Many Fortune 1000 companies, startups and nonprofit organizations go to career fairs, but that they can leave a huge dent in your wallet. Many require you to register ahead of time, asking for dues you may not have. Though it still remains one of the top ways to source diverse internship candidates, think about going a different way.
Virtual career fairs can be just as effective as traditional ones; they may even create more reach for you. Virtual hangouts allow you to share information with potential candidates in a video-chat format. This gives you access to young professionals from across the country -- perhaps even the world -- while they learn more about the opening. Virtual hangouts can also amplify the diversity factor, since you're not limited to where the host institution's territory.
Cost: Services such as Google Hangouts are free. Other platforms may come with a cost -- some as little as $20 a month -- but provide a 30-day free trial so you can try before you buy.
Promote opportunities on social media
The beauty of social recruiting is that the majority of your target market will likely be active there. You can also tailor your tweets, Facebook posts or LinkedIn updates to whatever audience you want to reach. For example, if you were looking to hire female tech interns, you can post a discussion in a relevant group or use job-specific hashtags. Social recruiting also lets you engage with young professionals in real time, keeping candidates interested and informed.
Take advantage of your network
The people around you may be the greatest asset in your quest. Those who have completed your internship program likely know people who have similar backgrounds or skills. In addition, current employees understand who will fit within your company culture. When you use the people in your network, they'll lead you to those who fit the job description and are most likely to achieve success.
Cost: Free -- although providing a reward such as a gift card or movie passes are a great (and cheap) way to say thank you.
If you believe recruiting a diverse fleet of interns costs thousands of dollars, think outside of the box. Use these resources as a way to fill your internship program with diverse interns who can help bridge your organization to the next level.
What do you think? What are some other ways to recruit diverse interns for $100 or less?
Ashley Mosley is Community Engagement Manager of InternMatch, an online platform connecting the best intern candidates and employers. Connect with Ashley and InternMatch on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.