Want to Increase the Size of Your Applicant Pool? Expand Your Geographical Reach


Many employers know the struggle of not being able to find enough qualified talent in their local community. In small towns or cities with extremely low unemployment rates, top talent might be especially rare.

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So, what's the solution? It may be time to expand your reach.

Moving Beyond State Borders

The answer lies in expanding your recruiting strategy to target talent located in other cities and/or states. While a nationwide talent search requires a little more strategic effort, the results can be incredibly positive.

The biggest problem is that luring a qualified candidate away from their current home and encouraging them to take a new job in an unfamiliar place is pretty challenging. Most candidates will be pretty skeptical from the start. You may have to turn up the proverbial heat and extend an offer they can't refuse.

Sell the City

When targeting out-of-town candidates, you face the disadvantage of having to sell them twice. Not only do you have to sell them on the job opening and the company, but you also have to convince them to uproot their lives and start anew in your city. That can be as challenging as selling the job itself, if not more so.

This is a challenge that Jeffrey Bedard, CEO of Crown Laboratories, faced when he started seeking candidates to come work for his company in Johnson City, Tennessee. As he explained in an article on Inc., "Putting a job ad up for paradise is easy. For a job in Johnson City, you've got to romance the entire recruitment process."

What Bedard did was focus on what his city could offer. He came to the realization that his ideal targets were frustrated professionals who were done with the stresses of urban life.

"After that much time sitting in traffic in Los Angeles or fighting the New York City subway and paying high rents, the big-city dream gets old," Bedard told Inc. "If we can get them to come out and visit the Blue Ridge Mountains and tour a $300,000 home in a great public school district, those are the people we're able to get."

If Bedard can sell Johnson City to New Yorkers, you can sell your city, too.

Pay for Relocation Costs

Many people are willing to move for a job, but when they start thinking about all of the logistics and expenses of moving, they back out. One way you can tackle this pain point is by offering to pay for relocation costs.

Let's say, for example, that your business is located in Scottsdale, Arizona, and you're targeting a candidate in Miami, Florida. That's a big change with a lot of moving parts. Not only should you pay for the move itself, but you should also offer to hire a top realtor and pay the commission. Gestures like these make a bold, convincing statement.

Touch on Work/Life Balance

These days, candidates put as much emphasis on work/life balance as they do on salary and benefits. The key for recruiters is to be truthful and honest when using the phrase.

"The term 'work/life balance' is thrown around with reckless abandon in today's business world," writes recruiter Robin Brodrick. "A remarkable number of businesses purport that their company culture places importance on work/life balance."

The problem is that some recruiters use work/life balance to lure in talent and then suffer from high turnover rates once employees realize it was all exaggerated. If you want to attract top talent from out of state, you need to be specific about what work/life balance means to your company.

"Stop telling candidates that your company offers work-life balance! Instead, get specific," Brodrick writes. "Say things like, 'We offer flex hours. Everyone works from 10:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M., but other than that, you can get your work done when and where you need to.'"

Don't Underestimate Yourself

The worst thing a company can do when attempting to broaden its pool of potential candidates is to underestimate itself. Instead of being pessimistic, look at the job opening, company, city, and benefits associated with the opportunity. The more enthusiasm you show, the more engaged your candidates will be.

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in tech, social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.