This Brilliantly Simple Search Hack Helps Talent of Color Get Greater Visibility

It's time to get a little c0ffe3

four hands of people of color holding coffee cups
Get a coffee with a c0ffe3 candidate. c0ffe3
Headshot of Doug Zanger

It’s clear that agencies struggle with finding and recruiting talent of color despite the best of intentions. Longstanding programs like MAIP offer a continuous pipeline of junior talent, yet often, the excuse is that people are hard to find. While that notion is problematic for several reasons, a group of Portland, Ore. creatives may have found an ingenious search hack that could render that argument moot.

Using Google or LinkedIn, people can create a typical search query (i.e., copywriter, art director) and include c0ffe3, a stylized version of the word “coffee,” which results in a listing of talent that has put the term on their websites, portfolios or profiles.

The idea first came to Swift copywriter Chelsea Curry around two years ago. After attending industry panels and conversations around diversity, she found that the same excuse kept coming up: Recruiters and agency executives couldn’t recruit diverse talent because there weren’t enough people in the pipeline or they were hard to find.

“Objectively, I knew that wasn’t true,” Curry said. “You hear excuses like that from recruiters and hiring managers. I knew that recruiters relied on past relationships with people in the industry and kept drawing from the same place. So it was more a matter of access and visibility as opposed to there being not enough talent.”

Additionally, Curry pointed out that LinkedIn’s algorithm is another reason the platform isn’t working as well for talent of color.

“It puts the people you’re most connected with first,” she noted. “And because advertising is already so exclusive and insular, the people who haven’t had the same connections and are just not being seen.”

Curry joined freelance art director Stephanie Yun-Ju Mitchell and Swift motion designer Martin Warszawski to develop the idea. According to Mitchell, the search term c0ffe3 serves as the basis for the look of the project (it is the hex code for a light mint color, which explains the palette) and has an additional meaning.

“The hex value represents bringing color and more diversity into the workplace,” she said. “And recruitment is very much based on getting coffee with someone, and we thought that this would be a great kind of covert phrase that we could get behind.”

“This is such an awesome project [and concept], and I’m surprised that it hasn’t been done already,” added Warszawski.

According to Curry, the process is straightforward. On LinkedIn, people can go to their own profile page and add c0ffe3 as a new employer, using whatever position they currently hold. Additionally, if talent is looking for a new job, they can note that in the entry and the roles they are looking for. At present, around 15 industry professionals have added c0ffe3 as a new employer.

Talent can also embed the term as a tag on their websites, which will make it appear in a Google search.

The technique doesn’t rely on LinkedIn’s API and is a simple search hack. And, while it is still in the early stages, Curry believes it’s an innovative way for the platform to highlight talent of color.

“I’d like to hope that LinkedIn would see this as an improvement and opportunity,” she said. “It’s an opt-in way to help talent of color, and I would hope that they would see this as a unique and respectful use of the platform to help people.”

“If it somehow garnered the attention of LinkedIn to the point where we’ve amassed so many numbers of people that have self-identified with our tags, then that’s all the better,” added Mitchell.

@zanger Doug Zanger is a senior editor, agencies at Adweek, focusing on creativity and agencies.