Las Vegas continues to be one of the hardest hit markets in the United States with unemployment reaching 11.1 percent and seven out of 10 homeowners nursing negative equity. But even as Las Vegas has begun to see unemployment claims decline and home prices start to stabilize, there may be another challenge to overcome.

Several employment sectors such as health care (medical, mental, and dental), teaching, and specialized labor continue to face the reverse problem — labor shortages. Despite attractive relocation packages, sign-on bonuses, and even employment placement for spouses, people are not to quick to pick Las Vegas.

Why? Social media.

If the constant buzz about how bad things are in Las Vegas and Nevada overall isn’t enough, the only neutral-to-positive returns on searches for most employers in those shortage sectors are bad. In fact, in some sectors, almost 80 percent of the posts and forum reviews are bad.

With no social media programs of their own, the net deficit seems to fall on recruiters. After days or weeks searching for a candidate to fill a position, they might pique someone’s interest with perks and relocation incentives only to be undermined by a few key strokes when the prospect searches for the name of the new employer.

Amplified, but not exclusive.

Las Vegas might be unique in that the problem is amplified, but as the rest of the nation races toward economic recovery, recruiters might be sensitive about what their corporate clients say or perhaps not say on Internet. Sooner or later job scarcity and overqualified candidates dumbing down resumes will dry up.

And then what? Discriminating employees might think twice about taking positions with companies that have a net deficit with online public sentiment.

The question recruiters might ask is no longer whether trees make noises in the forest when no one is around to hear them fall. The real question to ask in regard to employers is what will future employees think when they arrive at a forest that resembles the aftermath of the 1908 Siberian explosion. They might not have heard the sound, but the unaddressed wreckage is hard to miss.

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Rich, I think the issue is less to do with the media and more to do with the message.

I know you know better than most that you cannot always manage your [employer] brand. But if there is negative buzz drowning out your sweet tweets a smart recruiter would address that upfront making it part of the screening process.

If you gave recruiters the choice of staffing in one local over another how many would pick Detroit or New Orleans or any number of gloomy, depressed and hard-hit markets over Vegas?

We face similar issues in South Florida that you describe in Vegas. Even so, it's easy to count your blessings when your caught between a Hard Rock Cafe and a hard place, no?

Sometimes the media is the message or, more appropriately, the lack of the message.

Sure, a smart recruiter may address it upfront, and I imagine they do. However, my understanding is that even screened nurses, teachers, etc. back out at the last minute. (One reportedly interviewed other employees on LinkedIn before rejecting the position.)

Las Vegas has always seemed to struggle with an image issue in recruitment, but like anything, it was only the matter of finding the right audience. New Orleans, for example, might attract a certain employee, especially those predisposed to helping rebuild a city to be part of something bigger than themselves. I think Detroit or South Florida (and Orlando from what I understand) have their selling points as a community too.

But what I'm really proposing here isn't so much the cities as the employers themselves. And where I might have used Las Vegas as the example because I have readily available market knowledge (and because we're working on a report for the medical industry), it seems to me it can be applied anywhere, e.g., I assume it would be challenging to find employees bullish on GM.

As much as we discuss how employees use social media, I'm suggesting we might entertain the same for employers. I'm suggesting human resources might think differently about their internal communication, because it's increasingly external. I'm suggesting that the lack of the message within select media might be paramount to having no message at all, or as the case may be in Las Vegas, nothing to offset the scores of reports focused on poor customer service, disgruntled employees, lapses in managerial judgement, or paltry teacher-to-student or nurse-to-patient ratios. And from there, I'm wondering or asking about the impact that has on recruiters.

Of course, I might clarify that this is only an observation on my part and not sour grapes on my current location. Unlike many in the communication/advertising/marketing sector, the recession hasn't impacted my company, mostly because we're not reliant on any one market. We have clients all over the country, recently added staff, and count our blessings every day.

Instead, I'm wondering if some of these struggling sectors are counting their blessings. And if they are, why wouldn't they communicate it? And if they never do, I imagine it would make the role of recruiter even harder. Yes?

All my best,
As always, Rich, things that make you go "Hmmm."

I wonder what others have experienced in their local markets.
its like official's calls in sports- eventually it averages out for all recruiters and employers. If candidates won't move because of negative text on the web, at some point they wont be able to move at all, since every employer will have some unhappy people at some times.....
Sure, eventually positive and negative communication does average out, but individual averages aren't all the same. The only communication from one hospital in Las Vegas beyond its Web site is 10 negative reviews. My guess if you have to pick one, they might be a bit further down on the list.

In fact, if all averages were the same, then companies like Jet Blue or Southwest would have never gotten off the ground. Neither of those two are perfect, but their averages tend to be a bit stronger than, let's say, United Airlines.

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