Talent Management Articles – Recruiting for Remote Locations

While many urban businesses and organizations are experiencing difficulty attracting qualified candidates, organizations in rural and northern more isolated communities have an even greater challenge. Location! 

Whereas marketing guru’s shout out “location, location, and location” as the key message to attract business, location isn’t the winning formula when undertaking an executive search for a more isolated community. In fact, location can be very much of a detriment that could slow down a candidate search and frustrate the best of selection committee.

Yet, these rural and isolated communities do indeed have a lot to offer but part of the challenge is that members of a selection committee often take themselves for granted. They forget to recognize the many features and benefits their location does have to offer. And they don’t know how to market these benefits. This is where an executive search professional can help.

An executive search professional will assist a selection committee to look at other features of their location such as identifying and promoting the environmental and community features they have to offer. In many cases, I find that a rural or isolated location offers closer interpersonal relationships with a wide variety of professionals. Location often offers the intrinsic reward of an accelerated career path as tenure will broaden one’s scope of experience and learning which in turn creates longer-term advancement opportunities for a candidate. This is especially true for specialists and for those candidates interested in management.

The search committee also needs to examine other benefits their location has to offer. Most frequently the location would be attractive to candidates who are already engaged in similar sports and activities or who enjoy adventure. We work with the committee to identify activities for adults, children and families. We review the overall lifestyle and note the areas that would be attractive to candidates.

As well, we examine areas where people can volunteer at various charities and we review the schools, churches and health facilities. All of these elements help us to build a picture of life in the community and to specifically focus on items that would attract high-qualified candidates.

The role of an executive search consultant in this case is to assist the selection committee to package and market their job opportunity to those individuals who have an affinity for similar surroundings. Therefore, the first step I take is to truly understand all of the benefits and challenges of the community and within the job itself.

I begin by interviewing current members of the selection committee and also reach out to other selected employees to learn what attracted them to their location and job opportunity and what makes them stay. I ask these interviewees to describe their lifestyle, what they do in their leisure time, what professional accomplishments they have made in their role and what benefits they feel they enjoy because of the location.

Next, I apply a candidate search strategy. This investment in time by dedicated researchers helps us to target various locales where a potential candidate already appreciates the lifestyle described and is involved in activities offered in the client community. Then from this candidate pool, I deliberately seek individual’s who would benefit from a career progression opportunity beyond where they are working currently. As well, the dedicated researchers dip into candidate pools such construction, the military or other industry sectors that hold highly qualified candidates that are customarily more mobile than others.

Once a number of candidates have been identified, we approach the individuals with the opportunity, inquire about their interests and attempt to “sell” the features and benefits of the job. Once there appears to be an interest, we ask for and screen the resumes and conduct a telephone screening interview. If interest continues, we will frequently send the candidate additional print information and tourism data as well as more in-depth information on the job opportunity.

As the candidate pool is screened and qualifications confirmed, we typically bring the individuals into the client community for a face-to-face interview and a tour. It is important to be as realistic as possible about the features and benefits but also be open and transparent about some of the challenges that will be experienced when in the community. This approach helps to confirm only those clients that have a significant interest and a willingness to commit to the job opportunity. When possible, we might schedule a second visit for the candidate accompanied by a spouse and/or family because candidates will not stay unless the family is happily involved in the community as well.

While of course, I’m biased, I believe that the best bet for rural and isolated communities is to use an external executive search professional. We have the time, resources and network contacts that enable us to reach out to thousands of potential candidates and to screen them effectively. The result will be a qualified candidate with a good reputation and someone who respects, appreciates and values what the community and job opportunity has to offer.