“Eat locally produced food.”
“Support the local economy.”
“Recruit from your local talent pool.”

While ‘my’ eccentric Portland may actively embody the first two statements, it -along with the rest of the country- could still benefit from the third. Aside from the associated warm-n-fuzzy feelings, the slew of advantages from hiring locally just makes good business sense in some cases. Let’s take a look at what your company has to gain by recruiting locally. First thing’s first…

You have no alternative.

Juuust joking.

Sure, you can recruit from across the country, but that quagmire of a housing market has many bright-n-shiny prospects shackled to their mortgages. Even if your ‘VP of the Right Stuff’ could sell, will your budget cover the relocation costs? Many companies are starting to grow, even though their budgets are still ‘partying like it’s 2009’. Even if you can pay for relocation, what if the new recruit doesn’t work out? Hiring locally means lower relocation costs, less investment, and less obligation to the newbie. Oh, is that too cutthroat?

Hire locally. You’ll sleep better.

Relax, I’m not making a moral argument here.

Talented people run in packs. More than likely, your current talent can refer more top talent (aka their buddies) that they know personally. To wit, ere.net recently declared that formally managed employee referral programs produce close to 50% of external hires for benchmarked organizations. Employee referrals are a great resource, so long as they’re vetted by a stringent competency assessment process. Skip the formal selection process, and you risk a costly hiring mistake that can seriously harm your bottom line.

Fact: your prospect’s competencies and performance must jive with your company’s needs and culture. Just because they did well ‘back there’ doesn’t mean they’ll excel ‘over here’. Likewise, a poor fit with a previous employer may be an outstanding player in your company. My regular readers may roll their eyes at how I often return to the topic of properly assessing competencies, but that’s because it’s pivotal to finding the right candidate.

Caution: Shallow waters. Dive with care.

If you’ve limited your search to a specific type of industry experience or expertise, you’ve also limited the size of your prospecting pool. Not the end of the world: Consider ‘Brave Hiring: No Guts, No Glory’; your ideal candidate may be right around the corner and ready to switch from a different industry. Of course, your prospects will also have their own limits. A recent client’s experience comes to mind: the ideal candidate (all the right experience, culture fit like a glove, etc.) withdrew from the hiring pool because of the 25-mile commute! Beware, my recruiting brethren of large metropolises!

Ready to hire locally? Here’s what you do…

Size up your hunting grounds. Establish that a sufficient talent pool exists in your market. If your candidate must have specific experience, list the local companies where your future employee may work or have worked recently. Don’t forget to include on this list companies with satellite offices or telecommuting employees in your area. These folks may be ready for a greater sense of community. (In keeping with the whole ‘local economy’ thing.)

Let’s say that your local talent pool looks more like a puddle. Keep hope in your recruiting heart! Consider broadening your horizons to include people with experience in parallel fields and transferable skills. While these folks may take longer to ramp up, they may also bring game-changing ideas and enthusiasm for fresh challenges. If you’re still scraping bottom, expand your ‘local’ search to ‘regional’. Don’t let hot prospects get chilled by a long commute; let them work from home several days out of the week.

Finally, some crazy ideas for these crazy times.

Let’s say that local hiring just isn’t working for you, but the relocation budget won’t cover much more than the mail forwarding notice. If you live in a truly desirable location or your prospect really wants the job, he or she might settle for the price of a moving van and a plane ticket. Heck, they might be willing to pay for their relocation. The Ladders recently posted this very advice to job seekers! Crazy talk? Maybe. But it’s worth a try. If you choose this route, just be up front.

Love the candidate, but hate the relocation costs? Experiment with a virtual office environment. You’ll make the hire and buy time to confirm that the prospect is a good fit. Then, when the housing market improves (ahem. Any day now…), you can move the candidate to your locale.

And with that, I think I’d better get to my local Farmer’s Market. It’s my turn to make dinner tonight.

Views: 153

Comment by Kirk Baumann on September 27, 2010 at 12:07pm
Great post, Roy. I like the part about talent "puddles". If the puddle has the right people in it, you're golden. Employee referrals are crucial, but highly overlooked. All in all, your references to keeping it local are great, and I think, well founded. Relocation is costly - if it doesn't work out, you've just wasted a lot of money! There is a lot of great talent out there in your own backyard if you know where to look. Keep up the great work!

Comment by Sandra McCartt on September 28, 2010 at 12:00am
You guys have obviously never been to Amarillo, Texas.
Comment by Kirk Baumann on September 28, 2010 at 9:22am
Hi Sandra,

Actually, I've been to Amarillo many times. I have family that lives there and have fond memories from my childhood of Amarillo, Canyon, Groom and surrounding areas. There's a prairie dog town - what's not to love? :)
Comment by Sandra McCartt on September 29, 2010 at 1:15am
And i bet the wind was blowing, it was snowing or it was over 100 unless you were here in the fall which was provided to us by the allmighty so we would forget the other three seasons. We have a saying that if one wears out one pair of shoes in Amarillo, one will never leave. Of course not, it's difficult to travel without shoes. :)

Ours is not a talent puddle, it's more like a talent drip unless one is named Joe Bob and wears a John Deere cap. There is also a good reason why most people in Amarillo don't eat fish. The local pescatorian fare tastes like mud or the bottom of an aquarium.

But it's home and has been since the grandparents covered wagon broke an axle in the middle of the LLano Estacado so they had no choice but to stay. We have been gassing those prairie dogs ever since. Nasty little varmits, they dig the holes and the rattlesnakes live in them.

Ya'll come see us , hear. :)
Comment by Kirk Baumann on September 29, 2010 at 12:26pm
That's hilarious, Sandra. I'm surprised Amarillo has anything other than beef. :)
Comment by Sandra McCartt on September 29, 2010 at 4:33pm
It doesn't unless you think Mud Cat is edible. If you ask for lamb around here you get a stuffed animal.
Comment by Sandra McCartt on September 29, 2010 at 4:34pm
Or some rancher takes a shot at you for talking ugly.
Comment by Roy Notowitz on October 1, 2010 at 12:20am
These comments are entertaining, thanks! I probably should have taken it a bit farther to address the "Talent Drip" situation. Perhaps a change in location / site selection strategy would be the proper course of action. I can connect you with the Portland Development Commission if you would like to move your company here and have more salmon in your diet. (: It sounds like your town has a lot of interesting people with unique talents and incredible survival skills! Thanks for reading the post and for commenting. Best wishes!


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