Savvy HR departments, recruitment firms, and relocation professionals know that in order to recruit the best of the best, it's often necessary to look outside of your geographical box. But what happens when you are filling a job in St. Louis and your top candidate lives in sunny San Diego? She has a husband who is hesitant to let go of his West Coast roots and children who have grown accustomed to living near the water. She loves your organization and the career opportunity, but she can't get herself over the relocation hurdle.
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For many recruiters, this scenario is all too familiar. With candidates wielding the power in the post-recession job market, companies have to work a lot harder to recruit top-tier talent. Atlas Van Lines' Corporate Relocation Survey found that nearly two-thirds of firms have seen employees decline relocation offers in recent years. If you're scouting for talent in a remote or less well-known location, you can expect even more objections to moving.
The Partnership That Makes Sense
When you're asking candidates to uproot their lives for a job, it's imperative you sell them on every aspect of your organization – including its zip code. It takes more than a pretty brochure touting all that your city has to offer to truly move the needle. In order to successfully compete, your company needs to look at each case individually rather than trying to fit every candidate into a standard relocation sales pitch. You need to take a personalized approach to making your community feel like home.
That's why HR departments and recruitment firms have started to partner with real estate agencies that specialize in relocation. For example, as a St. Louis-based real estate agency, we at RedKey Realty Leaders know that most candidates from other areas of the country have never been to our city. Other than what they've heard from the occasional national – and sometimes negative – news story, candidates often have no idea what St. Louis is like. It is our job as a team of St. Louis experts and advocates to show candidates why they would love to live, work, and play here.
Sealing the Deal
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Here are four tactics that real estate companies use to help recruit out-of-town candidates for their partner organizations:
1. Make a Personal Connection
The worst thing an agent can do is assume that what sells one person on a city will appeal to the next. That's why the first step in any good relocation specialist's process is to really get to know the candidate and their family. This involves much more than reading a resume or bio. Rather, it means taking the time to sit down with the candidate and their family for a meaningful conversation. What is most important to each member of the family? What are their hobbies? Are they in school? Will they need to find new jobs? Are they religious? Do they have any special needs?
Here's an example of why this step is so important: One of our partner organizations once had a candidate whose daughter did not want to move, so we arranged for her to meet a local violin teacher because we knew she was passionate about the instrument. The daughter fell in love with the teacher and was soon in full support of the move. The candidate took the job. It was a win-win!
2. Provide Community Tours
Once the agent has gotten to know the family on a personal level, it's time to give them a taste of their potential new home. While the candidate is in interviews, it is the perfect time to take the rest of the family on a tour to showcase the parts of the community that meet their needs and wants. Those San Diego natives who don't want to leave their great outdoor scene, for example, may not be aware of the beautiful lakes or national parks that your city has to offer.
At RedKey, part of our process is to take families through the city in a limo. We go by cultural institutions, tell them about the rich history of each neighborhood, and introduce them to everything we love about St. Louis. Our partners oftentimes tell us that the tour is what solidified their candidate's decision.
3. Act as a Resource
Real estate agents with a relocation specialty are not only knowledgeable about the homes they are showing and the housing market, but they are also extremely knowledgeable about the communities they work in. Relocating involves more than finding a new house and making new friends. A new city also means new schools, doctors, hair stylists, childcare, athletic teams, summer camps, grocery stores, and so much more. It's our job to act as a guide throughout the various decision-making processes, acting as the candidate's well-informed ally even after they have committed to the position and made the move.
4. Show Community Pride
The real estate firm with which you choose to work should be genuinely passionate about the area. A great relocation partner not only loves and appreciates the city they are selling to your candidate, but also participates actively in the community. Top-tier candidates are, after all, intelligent individuals who will likely see straight through phony, rehearsed "here's what makes our city great" spiels. When the agent is constantly involved in exciting events throughout the city, it's impossible for them not to be passionate about it – and that passion is contagious.
Many organizations offer exceptional relocation packages and know how to ensure a smooth move once a candidate has signed on. However, these companies often overlook the importance of all that comes before – the relocation marketing imperative to a successful recruitment strategy. The value that real estate agencies can provide their recruitment partners could not be clearer. When competition is fierce for top talent, you can't afford to leave the location out of the equation.
Jill Butler is the CEO of RedKey Realty Leaders.