I lived in Charlotte, North Carolina for two years.

Like many cities with a high number of corporate headquarters, Charlotte has seen a massive number of newcomers flocking towards jobs and opportunities. Add to that some fairly decent weather, affordably-priced housing, and a feel-good-family-friendly nature, and it’s pretty obvious why folks from all over the country (and the world) have decided to make Charlotte their home.

For the first year that I lived there, there was this notion of the elusive “Native Charlottean” — people who were born, raised, and still living in Charlotte. Indeed, with the booming influx of non-Charlotteans moving into the city, finding one who didn’t come from somewhere else was like finding a needle in a haystack. My friends and I used to joke that if and when we found one, it’d be like winning the lottery.

At the beginning of my second year in Charlotte, I joined the Charlotte Shapers, a group of younger adults (20–30 years old) invested in improving the city. Within our eight-person team, we had not one, not two, but three native Charlotteans. As we worked together, I met their friends (many of whom were also native Charlotteans — imagine that!). And I discovered that there were actually hundreds of these hypothetical needles: you just needed to know a few and the rest would follow.

It’s with this experience that I can’t help but laugh at hiring managers in the Bay Area who claim that women and underrepresented minorities are so hard to find.

“No one is applying,” they say. “The pipeline is empty. Those unicorns* don’t exist.”

My friends, the pipeline isn’t the problem. If it were, then the gender breakdowns at major tech companies would be closer to proportionally matching the number of women graduating with CS degrees.

This problem is a recognizing that there’s more to the haystack than a proverbial needle problem.

So here’s your homework: find one. Find one needle/unicorn/Brigadoon/whatever you’re calling them these days, get to know them (yes, it helps to be genuine and interested in more than just networking for networking’s sake), and discover the hidden (but definitely existent!) network of untapped talent.

Don’t know anyone?

Hi! My name is Raquel. I’m a software engineer. Oh, yes, I also happen to be a woman of Hispanic origin. Want me to introduce you to my friends? Just ask.

* the needles of the animal kingdom, obviously