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Alex Cheney Is Not Your Typical Recruiting Consultant–He’s A Unicorn

Alex Cheney Is Not Your Typical Recruiting Consultant
Photo Courtesy: Ken Sergi

By: Maria Williams 

Alex Cheney endorses having an inclusive environment as the main tool companies can use to attract diverse candidates. He discusses the different ways they can utilize it to ensure potential applicants not only meet company standards but are attracted to a company of growth, leadership, and safety.

“Why unicorns?” We asked California-based recruiting consultant Alex Cheney about the image of a unicorn that adorns his website, A Little Bit Alex.

“First off, I think they’re cool,” he quips. “Being told I am a recruiting unicorn, being asked to find unicorns, and wanting to position myself as somebody who’s completely different from your typical mainstream recruiter. So, for those reasons, I chose unicorns.” 

The recruiting consultant from La Quinta, California—roughly 40 minutes east of Palm Springs and minutes from the hallowed grounds of Coachella, prefers to be classed as ‘people first,’ ‘different,’ and a recruiter who ‘looks at his trade through the lens of inclusion and diversity.’ 

When speaking with Business Insider earlier this year, Cheney expressed the challenges recruiters face when seeking their own employment. “I feel recruiters often get overlooked because hiring committees believe all they do is hire,” he explains. “Recruiters are some of the most strategic people within an organization—they have to know multiple aspects of the business, have direct lines of communication with multiple members of senior management, and have to pivot on a dime.” 

Therefore, Cheney is aiming to showcase how the recruiting process serves two-fold: it is the candidate’s first window into seeing the culture of the company, while it also exhibits the company’s necessity to look internally at their inclusive practices and create portals with which candidates from underrepresented groups and backgrounds are being afforded adequate opportunities.  

“If a company is not attracting a diverse candidate pipeline, they have to ask themselves ‘Why is that?'” Cheney explains, before providing prospective solutions. “Maybe you should look internally at the culture of your organization: is it inclusive, and are you highlighting that?” 

Cheney also speaks on the issues of searching specifically for diverse candidates, suggesting singular candidates cannot be diverse—rather, building up a diverse pipeline of candidates who can live in the comfort that they won’t be chastised or have their applications ignored for asking about the direction of company culture or opportunities for growth and development. 

Furthermore, the former Talent Acquisition Advisor at Cirque Du Soleil in Las Vegas has implemented strategies that ensure employees in organizations are provided the necessary space and learning tools with which they can share their struggles, discuss their employment journeys, as well as educate others about learning curves they’ve accomplished. 

“First, I launched the first employee relations group to improve the educational aspect in organizations,” he says. “This included creating a safe space where individuals of underrepresented groups and their allies can come together to discuss issues that they face, as well as educating those of ‘majority’ groups why these issues are so important.”

Initiatives such as the ERG provide a platform for companies to point out the employee resources they’ve invested in, first to create that community feel in the workplace, as well as bridging the cultural gap by highlighting their partnerships with the groups representing underrepresented populations. 

“When you start to promote these aspects of your business,” Cheney points out, “you suddenly become a preferred employer for diverse candidates. That immediately draws them to said company.”

Cheney asserts that companies can effectively uncover talent from diverse gender identities and neurodiversity by fostering a culture that celebrates diversity within their workforce. Rather than solely seeking out the “perfect fit” from the outset, they can attract a wider range of candidates by celebrating diversity. 

A proponent of an education-first approach to inclusivity, Cheney’s background working with tech companies allowed him direct access to the inner workings of tech start-ups and their philosophies when it comes to diversity. “Tech, historically, taps into their own networks—which, on paper, appears to be diverse because of the variety of skills each worker brings,” he points out. “But at the same time, they’re all coming from the same background. Therefore, my role is to educate the higher-ups to understand that diversity isn’t just color and gender but also different backgrounds, skill sets, and diversity of thought. So, essentially, educating the leaders on what diversity and inclusion means, and then showing them how to implement this knowledge when viewing applicants.” 

Much like himself, Cheney identifies candidates that are challenging the norm. Rather than looking at the qualifications or educational background deemed suitable for the specific job, he looks instead at what they can bring to an organization. Asking questions such as, ‘How do you communicate with others?’ and ‘How have you approached conversations regarding feedback in the past?’ Cheney can decode the tools relevant to the job requirements and then decide whether to push for their hiring. “I like to ask questions that in my mind don’t necessarily have a right or wrong answer,” he explains. “It’s more about how you approach a situation and subsequently handle it.” 

Alex Cheney truly epitomizes a unicorn. He’s a rare find, has a remarkable personality, and—because of their desirable qualities that set them aside from the rest—helps to turn candidates into unicorns and companies into hotbeds of growth and longevity. 

“I have had hiring managers tell me before that I’m a recruiting unicorn because of the way I approach recruiting and candidates,” he says. “I have had multiple candidates share their satisfaction throughout the recruiting process, from the initial interaction to how I listen to them. 

I want to show the world who I am.”

Alex Cheney is not your typical recruiting consultant—he helps companies differentiate opportunities from the competition. So, what are you doing to attract unicorns? 

Reach out to Alex Cheney through his website, A Little Bit Alex, for a comprehensive yet unique foray into all things recruitment. 

Published by: Nelly Chavez

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