Owning and Leveraging Information in a Tough Recruiting Market

Owning and Leveraging Information in a Tough Recruiting Market
Steve Cherry - July, 2008

Here in San Diego, recruiters have a really tough job when it comes to getting candidates to uproot and relocate here. Add the current economy and housing slow-down to the mix, and you are pretty much sunk if you are recruiting someone from a very low cost of living area. But is that the end of it? Do you just write this one off and save your breath? Not by a long shot. The key is basic information gathering, and the information you need is free, and waiting for you at the www.

Recruiters must be able to leverage every tiny bit of information at their disposal so they can help candidates overcome barriers as they look for ways to get from point A to B. More often than not, these "barriers" come in the form of simple statistical comparisons between one city and another. What are the stats that matter? Anything that can be directly related to time and money. If the recruiter is not able to adequately address these statistics, they can rapidly turn into real or perceived psychological stumbling blocks that turn a sure placement into a firm decline.

In the past I found myself constantly on the defense when talking to candidates from the East coast who literally live in a different socio/economic world than I do here in Southern California. Over time, I discovered that their perceptions were usually accurate to a point, but when I actually went out and did my homework, I realized that there are positive and negative statistics that affect time and money in all geographical locations. As a recruiter in today's tough times and slow housing market, I can either throw up my hands, or I can dust off the keyboard and start really looking at the data. I can also turn the tables a bit, and ask some important questions that relate to time and money.

For instance, when was the last time you asked a candidate from Boston exactly how much time he spent in a single year scraping ice from his car windshield? Or, how about requesting a total of hours or budget spent per year shoveling snow from walks and driveways? What about a yeary total of hours running a cold vehicle while waiting for it to warm up enough to actually get inside and drive? Chances are that your candidate has never seriously tabulated all of the time and money wasted doing these basic day to day activities where he lives. Simply put, things like this matter big time, because I can vividly remember scraping ice from car windshields growing up near Buffalo, NY (and that was on the days when the roads were actually clear to drive on).

What else matters? Taxes. State income, sales and local property taxes matter. A lot. Taxes directly affect how much cash will be in hand at the end of the day. Recent and future job growth matters as well because candidates want to know that they are not moving to an area that depends solely on one vulnerable brick and mortar company. But how do you quickly pull all of this information together?

Stay with me, I am coming to a point here.

I used to advocate the popular CNN Money Best Places To Live website which makes yearly picks based on a raft of gathered statistics and other information. This resource is still a good place to go learn about other areas of the country, but I've found a better resource that I want to show you today: Sperling's Best Places is a refreshing and invaluable resource to recruiters because not only does it line up best places to live, but it is also home to their "City Compare" search engine which compares two cities based on a dozen different categories of statistics from "people" and "voting" to "economy" and "cost of living."

Did I mention that this robust service is free? Businesses pay lots of money for detailed research like this, but you now have it at your finger tips whenever you need it. Simply put, this site design is very clean and easy to navigate, and the tools provided are intuitive and powerful. If you are not sure of a zip code or state, just type in "San Diego" or "Boston" and the search engine will return several choices, nationwide, for you to choose from. Once the initial results are returned from your city comparison, you simply click the desired category on the left to display the data you need.

Now you can tell your candidate in Missoula, Montana that yes, it is definitely going to be more expensive overall to live in San Diego, but at least he can leave behind his whopping 10% state income tax, average January temperature of 13.9 degrees, annual 40 inches of snow and that ugly property tax rate of $10.65 per $1000 home cost.

And by the way - picking broccoli from your own garden in February has to count for something, right?

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