The future of hiring: Essential lessons from SXSW 2023

Greenhouse team at SXSW

5 mins, 2 secs read time

An uncertain economy and the shifting talent market have led to unexpected hiring freezes, mass layoffs and an overall feeling of concern for the year to come. Companies are eager for guidance on how to best approach their hiring and talent strategy in 2023. What we learned in the 2023 CEO Outlook Report is that panicking and reactive layoffs aren’t necessarily the right approach. Long-term business success will be rooted in strategic and thoughtful planning.

The Greenhouse team headed to SXSW 2023 in Austin, Texas, to share insights on the stage and learn what some of the most successful companies are doing in today’s tough economy – not only to stay afloat, but to flourish. Here are our top lessons from SXSW so everyone from recruiters to business leaders can get a better understanding of what they can and should do to succeed this year.

Flexible, customized working is key to retaining women

It’s no secret that tens of thousands of tech workers were laid off over the past several months. And unfortunately, the data shows that women, and especially women of color, have been disproportionately affected.

This topic was broached at the The Female Quotient Equality Lounge™ at SXSW, where transparent conversations were focused on driving meaningful change in equity and inclusion. In a panel exploring why so many women were exiting the workforce post-pandemic, leaders revealed that it stems from companies deprioritizing equity when they went into survival mode during the pandemic.

Leaders are saying, ‘The topic of equity is distracting us from our bottom line.’ But if we don't bring back into focus why this is so critical, we start to lose ground and can't make it up.
–Pamela Culpepper, Managing Partner in Leadership Advisory at Hanold Associates

At Tulsa Remote’s SXSW Tulsa House, another panel explored whether remote work is a privilege or a right, Libryia Jones, Client Director at Amplifi and a remote work advocate, put it this way, “Remote work is such a huge unlock for mothers – especially for single mothers. It enables us to not have to choose between finances and family."

Back at the Equality Lounge, Jill Koziol, CEO of Motherly, explained that, above all else, affordable childcare needs to be incorporated into work flexibility. “According to our survey data, 60% of mothers feel burnout. Mothers often bear the brunt of stress and it all comes down to affordable childcare, maternity leave and flexibility.”

Diversity pipeline myths hinder companies from hiring great BIPOC talent

Although we’ve made major strides in diversity recruiting in recent years, we’ve still got a long way to go. And although companies may look a bit more diverse than in the past, Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) representation is disproportionately low in more senior levels – as low as 14% at executive levels – compared to 41% in the general employee population.

Why is this happening? Spoiler alert: It’s not because there isn’t an abundance of such talent out there. Day in and day out, employers across industries struggle to find – and retain – BIPOC leaders. That’s due in part to a belief in the myth that“only entry-level professionals of color exist.”

In another session, Fahad Khawaja, Founder and CEO at Hue, explained that this myth is also perpetuated by the “network gap,” or the advantage some have as a result of where they went to school and who they know. According to Fahad, those on the other side of this gap have up to a 12x advantage when it comes to job opportunities.

When it comes to recruiting, people are fishing in the same ponds and that creates a sea of sameness.
Fahad Khawaja, Founder and CEO at Hue

So how do you combat these challenges to create equitable opportunities? According to Fahad, “The reality is, we need to approach things differently and we need to connect with people we wouldn't normally.” This can start with investing your time, energy and funds in supporting people and organizations that help drive change in a tangible sustainable way. “It’s not about a handout, it's about giving people a fair foot in the door to level the playing field.”

Skills-based and fair chance hiring is the way of the future

Whether people realize it or not, there’s a paper ceiling that’s preventing great talent from being hired. According to, “Millions of workers with in-demand skills and experience [are] overlooked for higher-wage jobs because they don’t have a bachelor’s degree.” More than 60% of Black, 55% of Hispanic, 66% of rural, and 61% of veteran workers are considered STARs, or workers Skilled Through Alternative Routes.

In a session hosted by Bridgette Gray, Chief Customer Officer at Opportunity@Work, leaders explored the importance of dismantling the paper ceiling. LinkedIn VP & Head of the Opportunity Project Aneesh Raman said, “If you bring a skills-based filter to your recruiting, you broaden your talent pool by 20x.”

Talent is a force for change. You will either harness that force through skills-based hiring, or you will miss out. You have to be a talent creator and you have to unlock it and access it.
–Jill Kramer, Chief Marketing & Communications Manager at Accenture

This also ties in with the similar stigma that people have against hiring people who were formerly incarcerated. In his session, Kenyatta Leal, Executive Director at NextChapter, shared the benefits of giving this group a fair chance, from increasing diversity to accessing their skills and raising retention rates.

Whatever your role, you can help change the narrative about STARs and formerly incarcerated talent to champion skills-based hiring in your workplace and beyond. It’s not just the right thing to do – it’s a clear opportunity to access an untapped talent pool that can transform your business.

Hungry for more tips on the future of hiring? Tune into this webinar on How to future-proof your hiring worktech.

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Micah Gebreyes

Micah Gebreyes

is a Senior Manager of Content Marketing at Greenhouse where she develops and leads the content strategy for Greenhouse blogs, social media and thought leadership newsletter, Modern Recruiter. When she's not working to bring the brand story to life, she enjoys spending time with her Pomeranian, Cashew. Keep the conversation growing with Micah on LinkedIn or through the Greenhouse LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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