Indigenous Recruitment Best Practices

Attract and Recruit

  1. Identify the hiring need. Audit your positions and job responsibilities. Is there a possibility of having a specialized Indigenous position?
  2. Create a recruitment plan. Find out how positions align with organization goals, values, and interview process. Attend career fairs, prepare with mock interviews, have recruiters and hiring managers take training, and send sample questions ahead of time to prospective applicants.
  3. Create a job description. Use culturally appropriate language, desired characteristics, include salary and benefits, start date, if there is travel required, if a vehicle required, expectations, and benefits.
  4. Advertise the position. Be tactful, connect with local employment centres and ask for Indigenous candidates to apply. Connect with post-secondary institutions, Indigenous friendship centres, and use social media to engage with any Indigenous professional groups or individuals. Consider contacting community organizers of annual Indigenous community events.
  5. Review the applicants. Ensure your applicant tracking system is set up for self identification in the application process.
  6. Schedule interviews. Send preparation questions before the interview, preferably while you are connecting over the phone or through email communication.
  7. Applicant assessment. Assess the applicant based on their qualifications and also consider if there is any additional training available that may ensure the applicant is ready for their position.
  8. Background check. Criminal record check and social media presence.
  9. Decision. Review job description.
  10. Reference check.
  11. Job Offer.
  12. Hiring.
  13. On-boarding. Clear guidelines should be created that clarify all the position expectations and outline any training, if required.


  1. Ensure the employee feels welcome

Assign a team member to the new employee for 4-6 weeks (customize based on capacity) and ensure they feel listened to and welcomed to the team.

  1. Create an Indigenous employees committee or network

Create an opportunity for employees to get together and meet about Indigenous issues they are facing in the workplace and how they can support each other. These meetings can be helpful in creating a welcoming environment for each Indigenous employee. Ensure employees can participate in annual cultural gatherings/events that celebrate their culture.

  1. Clearly define a bereavement leave policy outline

Are there cultural considerations and accommodations being made for employees? The Indigenous kinship model extends beyond immediate family and in the unfortunate circumstance of an employee’s family member passing away they may need access to an extended leave. All circumstances may vary and a discussion with the specific employee(s) should be scheduled with their immediate supervisor and human resources.

  1. Have career path discussions with your employees (separate from annual/performance review)

It’s important to listen to your employees and sit down with them and talk about career advancement opportunities within the organization. You can help them set goals for advancement and identify specific positions and milestones and create steps to achieve them. It is also important to discuss any skill gaps and ways to address them. Offer training and professional development opportunities or reimbursement for tuition if employees want to pursue education or training.

  1. Ensure work schedules are flexible

Some of the most effective retention strategies involve giving employees options to excel professionally while maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Flexibility in scheduling may well prove to be the deciding factor when your best employee chooses to stay rather than look for another job. Consider alternate working hours or telecommuting.

  1. Succession Planning

Succession planning is critical whatever size your organization may be. A solid course of action shows your team they can trust their leaders to be prepared for any scenario. Ask them whether they’re comfortable taking on new tasks and are willing to step in and take on bigger roles. It’s possible you could identify your future leaders during this process.

  1. Reward employee performance

Losing employees can often be avoided with an increase in salary or a reward of an employee perk.

  1. Check-in with Employees

It’s important to check-in with your team and ask yourself, what is the environment in the workplace? Are all employees happy? Have you noticed changes in employee morale or behaviour? Is there a team atmosphere with everyone working towards common organizational goals?

The information contained on this page and within the Indigenous Engagement Directory includes original content as well as content using a variety of sources. Special thanks to the Indigenous Engagement Task Force participants, Nutrien, Indigenous Services Canada, Indigenous Works, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, and several others. Please feel free to use the information contained here to advance the Indigenous Engagement strategy for your business.

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