With the unemployment rates at their lowest in decades, how do small towns possibly compete with big cities and corporations to attract top talent? The trick is to focus on what the big corporations don’t – a small town culture, lower cost of living, and lower crime rates. To pull those candidates away from the bright city lights, you will need to paint them a picture of what working for your small-town organization will do for them, their family, and their way of living.
Culture is Everything
Most candidates head to the big city and large corporations because of what they know about the company. One would assume a company based in New York City means substantially higher salaries, the opportunity to rub elbows with the top players in the industry, and the never-ending parties and Broadway shows. What they fail to think about is the huge difference in cost of living, the tireless work hours and lack of work-life balance, and the endless traffic and bustle. It would not take long for an employee to become burnt out and overwhelmed in this atmosphere.
Instead, showcase how the small-town life is what they didn’t know they were missing. Provide testaments from current employees that live in and near town, highlighting their favorite things to do in the area and what drew them to the company. Walk them through what a typical day off might look like (local favorites, outdoor activities, shows, best restaurants, etc.). If the area has a specific stereotype, be sure to debunk it (think ‘It is always cold in Vermont/ It is too hot in Nevada’). If possible, bring the candidate and the spouse/children to the town and let them experience it. Provide resources in real estate, daycare, local schools, etc. to assist in helping them see themselves there.
Sometimes, it is not necessary to attract talent to you but rather to pull it in before it goes elsewhere. In a small-town atmosphere, it is important that your company name is well-known, and for positive reasons. Get involved in local events, volunteer, sponsor a little league, whatever puts you name in front of potential talent. The more positively the population views the organization, the easier it will be to get candidates interested in working for you.
Local schools are a great resource for healthcare recruiters. Do not miss out on these opportunities to capitalize on potential talent that is already right in front of you. Engage with upcoming talent by providing seminars, CPR classes, and internship opportunities. According to the Rural Health Research and Policy Centers, young people must be exposed to health care at an early age and encouraged to participate in Math and Science classes. If there are not comprehensive healthcare programs in the area, work with local schools to put one in place. Reach out to schools nearby and promote there as well.
It is vital to find monetary ways to entice talent to your small town. This is not always feasible in the bottom dollar on their paycheck. Provide cost of living calculations to potential hires, helping them to see that while the base salary may be lower than a bigger city, the money in their pocket can be substantially greater. The Washington Post suggests creative compensation initiatives such as offering sign on bonuses that are staggered to encourage new talent to stay with the company, providing home buying assistance, and working with your local Chamber of Commerce to identify potential programs to draw new talent to the area. The possibilities are endless as long as you are focusing on what your specific candidate is most interested in. Promoting great schools and local hiking trails will not go far with a single candidate who has bad knees. Pay attention to your candidates and put the work in to understand their needs.
The challenge of attracting talent to small, rural towns is not going away anytime soon. It is vital that recruiters make use of niche job boards such as HospitalRecruiting.com, promote the community and lifestyle, engage with talent that is already there, and learn what the candidates need most. Skipping any of these steps will result in a waste of time and energy on the recruiter’s part and an unsatisfied candidate.