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How To Hire True Diversity and Get Beyond Hiring Only Local Candidates

by Nov 5, 2008, 5:22 am ET

Your company may be sending a brand-destroying message that hiring next year’s summer intern is more important than hiring your next director, vice president, or other C-level executive.

Many firms are hiring college graduates and interns for next summer. In many of those cases, relocation is paid to the college graduate or summer housing is arranged for the intern. A look at the experienced hiring market illustrates an entirely different story. A search in Google for “local candidates only” delivers more than 250,000 results. Sure, several of these openings are for retail or hourly employees where considerable education credentials aren’t required.

But you get:
50,000+ results for “local candidates only” vp
5,000+ results for “local candidates only” mba

If you sift through there a bit, you’ll find some senior openings like Chief Financial Officer and Chief Marketing Officer. Would it not be wise to mix in talent from other regions, if not solely to have different vantage points and a more diverse perspective? The best companies I’ve ever worked for had these qualities and created true diversity in skills and life perspectives. Ideally, you should be recruiting the best people who are passionate lifelong learners with cutting-edge skills capable of a building a collaborative, high-performing culture regardless of their location.

It’s similar to what I see when analyzing strategic Internet marketing programs. It comes down to one simple thing: legacy, incumbent budgets that prevent you from achieving the desired outcome. Long-standing, legacy budgets fund college graduate and intern relocation programs and are regularly renewed while mid-level, experienced-hire budget resources are highly irregular and often insufficient to acquire the best talent.

The expenses for experienced hire candidates, such as airfare and hotels during interviewing, and relocation costs of an experienced hire, often come directly out of the P&L of the business unit doing the hiring. As you enter budget cycles in the years ahead, you should consider creating a flexible budget pool for experienced hires that is independent of the business unit. This not only will help your recruiting programs hire the top talent you need today, but will position your firm strategically to have a nimble experienced hiring process in the upcoming years as the baby boomers begin to retire and you look to hire replacement leaders from Generation X.

In the short term, you need to get a bit more creative to give offers to the best and brightest talent. Here are a few ideas for obtaining the best, most geographically diverse talent:

Actively Seek Out Renters as Candidates. It’s understandable that you don’t want to take on real estate risk unless absolutely necessary, especially in the current marketplace. Additionally, you want to be hiring candidates who demonstrate responsible financial behavior — they might have the same positive tendencies when making decisions for your business! Renters with no outstanding debt or without hard-to-divest real estate should be therefore highly sought-after assets! An added benefit of this is that there is a correlation with having fewer personal belongings when renting and that would lead to a higher likelihood of a lower-cost move overall.

Target Veterans Terminating Active Duty Military. Lisa Rosser is a book author and founder of The Value of a Veteran, a firm that advises and trains organizations on the value and hidden benefits of hiring veterans. According to Lisa, “Over 100,000 service members separate from active military duty (i.e., not National Guard or Reserve duty) each year and it’s a little known fact that each and every one of them is entitled to one free move anywhere in the United States.” The veteran can request that benefit any time within one year after the date of separation. Many military members begin their job search eight or more months in advance of their last day of contracted service. That is the optimal window to begin marketing your company and its typical hiring needs to the military audience, and wrangle that free move on Uncle Sam’s dime. She also encourages people to look at the skills and competencies fully, not just their job titles and/or organization. These aren’t just infantry folks — among them are computer programmers, highly skilled engineers, nurses, and healthcare professionals.

Seek Out Spouses of Recently Relocated Workers. You might find some candidate gems here. Larger companies in your region who frequently relocate people might have lists of such people or access to organizations that provide support to these people. Look at their skill sets completely — not just their last job title and company brand. If you find a way to quickly show these people that you see value in them when they first move to an unfamiliar place, you are very likely to make an extremely positive impression. The result will be acquiring an appreciative, loyal, and content worker who has a higher likelihood of remembering your gesture.

Target Individuals Who Have Shown Interest in Your Geographic Region. You can seek bloggers and social media participants via search engines such as Google who mention the position’s location favorably in their writings about a vacation, a relative, or close friend that lives in the region, a business trip they particularly enjoyed, or otherwise. Then again, a candidate might present you with an old-fashioned letter to someone at the company stating a desire to move the area. Due to the affinity that they have for the area, they might be highly motivated to move to the region and happily share or absorb the costs upon receiving an offer. Just like with the relocated spouse, this individual will be highly appreciative of the opportunity. As an added bonus since you found them via their blog or social media tools they are likely to tell the story over and over, creating positive word of mouth about your employment brand.

Focus On Sourcing Candidates Who Once Lived In Your Region. If the role is New York City, knowing that they can handle living there can be an important factor in selecting a candidate. Potential candidates will likely fall into one of two buckets: A) they loved it and can’t wait for the opportunity to return; or B) they never wish to return. The latter might have ideas about candidates who might be appropriate due to their prior experience in the location, so even that outcome is not a waste of your time and effort.

Please share this article with your teammates and leadership to start the dialogue that will lead to budget reform of experienced hire relocation policies.

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.