Hometown Holding You Back? Location and Hiring

Jun 20, 2012
This article is part of a series called Opinion.

In the war for talent, are you sitting comfortably behind the castle walls or conquering new territory? If you’re going to start storming the gates of your competitors, in my Game of Thrones-inspired metaphor, you’ll need the best and brightest on your side. The top talent who can help you build your company into a force to be reckoned with might not have gotten the memo to move nearby. Hiring locally just doesn’t cut it anymore.

If you’re only looking for talent in your own backyard, you’re missing out. Just because you’re missing this top talent doesn’t mean your competitors are as short-sighted. Many recruiters and hiring managers will turn away out-of-state candidates as soon as they see an unfamiliar zip code. If your company doesn’t see talented candidates out of the area as worth the time, those candidates will get swept up by someone else. In the war for talent, now you’re losing.

Times are changing and the conventional wisdom no longer applies. With over 8 percent unemployment, many candidates are giving far-flung companies a try. This could be the best time for you to get in on the ground floor of finding the top talent no matter what their geographic location might be. So let’s break down some of the common myths regarding long-distance candidates:

Myth: Candidates Won’t Relocate

The common view of long-distance candidates says when push comes to shove, most probably won’t go through with the move. There are plenty of reasons for this. Many candidates will have families who want to stay in one place. Others will initially agree and then balk at the relocation costs. The myth about non-local candidates is they will lead you on and eventually break your heart when they back out.

Reality: Candidates Are Moving When They Move On

In reality, this view is short-sighted. Sure, those problems exist, and to pretend otherwise would be disingenuous. But every candidate has a unique set of issues. Talent and fit are the better predictors of whether a candidate will actually pick up and move for your company. Besides the numbers are undoing this myth. According to a recent study 26 percent of U.S. workers said the recession has made them more willing to move. If the talent is ready and willing to move to your company, you need to be ready to consider them!

Myth: It’s Too Expensive

We all know the recruiting process is far from cheap. The farther away you recruit from, says conventional wisdom, the more you’ll be paying. After all, you’ll need to interview the candidate at some point. Candidates that are geographically distanced will need to be flown in and possibly even accommodated while going through the hiring process. Even after all this money spent on travel, there’s no guarantee you’ll have yourself a new employee.

Reality: Technology is Cutting Costs

Airfare is expensive, but what if you could still do a face-to-face interview without the in-flight entertainment? New technology is allowing interviewing without all the travel hassles and their accompanying costs. Being able to interview candidates using online video technology means being able to judge each of those important nonverbal cues essential in a face-to-face interview without anyone ever buckling up for takeoff. Now there’s no excuse to focus solely on homegrown hires. Don’t use cost as an excuse not to consider talented candidates from afar.

Myth: The Market is Flooded With Talent

Since the economy went south, it has seemed silly to look around for talent when there’s so much of it in your own backyard. Most hiring managers will get dozens or even hundreds of resumes for each open position. Even with increased relocation and video interview travel solutions, why look around when the talent is right in front of you?

Reality: The Market is Flooded, But Not With Talent

The talent pool isn’t as deep as we think. In fact, according to a new study from the Partnership for a New American Economy, the U.S. is falling behind in the global race for talent. Don’t hire locally just because it’s less effort. Looking outside the borders of your area code, or even your country code, will help you nab the top performers.

True, the stack of resumes you get for every job posting is impressive. But really, how many of those resumes are actually qualified for the position? The bad economy has made a lot of candidates desperate for a job– any job. Getting a candidate who is over qualified or whose career goals don’t seem to align won’t do you any favors. Odds are you’ll be rehiring the position soon. Now you’re spending more money on a local hire who didn’t pan out than you would have on a long-distance candidate with talent and drive.

Sure, looking outside your geographic comfort zone can be difficult and even stressful. But you can open a whole new world of talented candidates with the ability to take your company to the top.

This article is part of a series called Opinion.