Attracting top talent in a small city can be difficult for any company. And if you ask Richard Wajs, president and CEO of TWC International Executive Search, an 11-year-old global recruitment firm, it’s probably the most challenging recruitment situation a company can ever face. But, says Wajs, if you’re persistent and tenacious, your search will be fruitful.
Here are four tips for recruiting top talent in small cities:
It’s a two-way sell
Tim Silversides has been president of Brandon, Man.-based West-Can Human Resources Solutions for 20 years. Over the years, he’s noticed that many recruiters tend to forget that the recruitment process is a sales job on both sides.
“Employees are trying to sell what they can bring to an organization, but as an employer it’s also important to do the legwork so you can provide the candidate with all the benefits they’ll get from working within your company and your community,” explains Silversides. “You should provide candidates with as many positive reasons to work for you as possible.”
Wajs says prior to beginning the recruitment process, he lines up his selling points about the company, position and location, and is prepped for any questions the candidate might have. While some candidates may be curious about things such as education systems and private clubs in the community, Wajs has also been asked about water issues, crime rate and pollution.
Know the candidate’s professional aspirations
One the primary concerns for most candidates when taking a position in a small city, says Wajs, is that they’ll be unable to progress professionally.
This was certainly the case with Jeffrey De Sarno, CTO of Westman Communications Group. When he was first contacted regarding a position at Westman, he says one of his primary hesitations stemmed from wondering whether or not he’d be able to advance as quickly as he would in a larger city. Eight years and several promotions later, De Sarno says he had nothing to worry about.
“Being able to assure a candidate that they’ll have the same opportunities as they would in a big city helps put them at ease,” explains Wajs. “And it also helps make sure the employer and the employee have a mutually beneficial relationship.
Keep it in the family
Wajs says that it’s important for a candidate to have support from valued family members, and that they visit a community along with the candidate. “You want to make sure that leading candidates and their families are willing to commit to the community,” says Wajs.
Silversides notes that small communities are ideal for raising a family, so top candidates can often be in that phase of their lives. “It can be good for candidates who’ve experienced some professional success in larger cities and companies,” he explains. “They look to Brandon because they know they’re always 10 minutes away from home, and that there are other family-friendly amenities in place, such as good education programs.”
Know where to look
If you know the area and the employment market, you’ll know whether there are potential candidates in the area.
Ideally, recruiters will be able to find the perfect candidate within a small city, says Silversides. “Those candidates are familiar with the city and the different industry players, and there’s not much of a learning curve,” he explains.
In Brandon, Silversides says, there’s the advantage of having a good university and a strong college which means not only that there’s a strong pool of candidates to choose from, but also that those institutions attract people from outside the community, who may then choose to stay in the city after graduation to explore other opportunities.
But, he adds, sometimes it’s nice to bring in people from outside the community because they can offer a different perspective. “You can’t leave any stone unturned,” he says.