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Realizing the Value of Untapped Talent

For People, Business, and Society

Employers often confront a mismatch between the talent they need for their workforce and what they are finding in the marketplace. At the same time, businesses are missing out on invaluable, untapped groups of workers who exist outside of business’ standard talent pipelines due to perceived barriers and misconceptions related to one or more demographic characteristics.

Workers from untapped talent pools, such as veterans, military spouses and caregivers, individuals aged 60 or older, disabled workers, those with a criminal record, and opportunity youth (non-student unemployed youth), provide high return on investment and unique, in-demand skills. And greater inclusivity in hiring practices opens doors to more equitable and diverse work environments where both business and employees can thrive.

With generous support from the Walmart and in partnership with JFF, the SHRM Foundation created “Untapped Talent Pools” to put research, guides, and templates at HR professionals’ fingertips to help them invest in untapped talent pools, diversify their workforce, and recognize the benefits for both people and business from building inclusive workplaces.

Wendi Safstrom

Executive Director, SHRM Foundation

“The value of untapped talent must be recognized as more than a matter of social good or community goodwill; workers from these groups provide high return on investment and unique skills that employers should be realizing, and we want HR professionals to be more reflective of these diverse populations.”

Untapped Talent: What We Stand to Gain

Veterans

Strong commitment to organizational mission

Entrepreneurial and self-motivated approach and mindset

Comfortable with ambiguity and resilient

Many have advanced technical training

Experienced in cross-cultural and diverse workplaces

People with Criminal Records

Higher-than-average loyalty to organization

Lower turnover and lower frequency of disciplinary issues

Eager to work hard to prove value

Increase diversity since U.S. criminal justice system disproportionally impacts people of color

People Age 60+

Higher levels of engagement than other populations

Strong work ethic backed by broad work and life experiences

Large existing network of professional contacts

Often have strong communication and leadership skills

Veterans

Strong commitment to organizational mission

Entrepreneurial and self-motivated approach and mindset

Comfortable with ambiguity and resilient

Many have advanced technical training

Experienced in cross-cultural and diverse workplaces

People with Criminal Records

Higher-than-average loyalty to organization

Lower turnover and lower frequency of disciplinary issues

Eager to work hard to prove value

Increase diversity since U.S. criminal justice system disproportionally impacts people of color

People Age 60+

Higher levels of engagement than other populations

Strong work ethic backed by broad work and life experiences

Large existing network of professional contacts

Often have strong communication and leadership skills

Military Spouses and Caregivers

Skilled at adapting to change and navigating ambiguity

Strong leadership and strategic problem-solving skills

Bring experience from vast life and work-related experiences

Healthcare and other benefits are covered by the military

People with Disabilities

High quality of performance and work ethic

First-hand experience with accessibility and inclusion challenges

Higher-than-average loyalty to organization

Lower likelihood of incurring work-related accidents and less time-off spent

Take pride in their work

Opportunity Youth

Bring innovative and creative ideas to problems and processes

High levels of enthusiasm and willingness to learn

Increases age diversity of organization and can help expand customer market

Offer unique perspective to current cultural trends

Increase diversity since most Opportunity Youth are non-white

Military Spouses and Caregivers

Skilled at adapting to change and navigating ambiguity

Strong leadership and strategic problem-solving skills

Bring experience from vast life and work-related experiences

Healthcare and other benefits are covered by the military

People with Disabilities

High quality of performance and work ethic

First-hand experience with accessibility and inclusion challenges

Higher-than-average loyalty to organization

Lower likelihood of incurring work-related accidents and less time-off spent

Take pride in their work

Opportunity Youth

Bring innovative and creative ideas to problems and processes

High levels of enthusiasm and willingness to learn

Increases age diversity of organization and can help expand customer market

Offer unique perspective to current cultural trends

Increase diversity since most Opportunity Youth are non-white

Create Your Organization’s Untapped Talent Employment Plan with Research, Templates, and Guides

With almost two-thirds (65%) of organizations reportedly not yet working on developing talent pipelines for untapped groups of workers, there is more work to be done to ensure these individuals are not left behind and to capitalize on the value they bring to employers. This HR activation center, developed by the SHRM Foundation and Walmart, offers HR professionals and employers tools, assessments, and guides to improve hiring strategies and elevate diversity, equity, and inclusion practices in the workplace.

Untapped Talent Research Report

Download the research report which surveyed HR professionals and employers about their experiences working with people from untapped talent pools.

Untapped Talent Pools
Self-Assessment

Take a short quiz to assess your knowledge, personal biases, and common misperceptions about untapped talent pools.

Coming Soon

Untapped Talent Pools
Hiring Strategy Template

Get started on developing your organization’s plan for hiring from untapped talent pools using this strategy template.

Coming Soon