By Adam Godson, Cielo Manager of Technology Analytics

As sourcing techniques become more sophisticated with new and innovative methods of finding people online – sourcing Meetup groups, X-ray searching social networks, and leveraging list generation tools – there's still one area that strikes fear into the eyes of many recruiters: rural America.

Recruiters can precisely and efficiently track down a left-handed nuclear physicist located in Philadelphia. But when it comes to finding a web developer in rural western Kansas – they crumble to ashes.

Demographic trends certainly indicate more people are moving to larger cities, but there are many talented people and great jobs located outside of urban areas. Recruiting in rural areas can be daunting, especially for recruiters new to the trade and/or entering these locations for the first time.

As a native of rural Iowa (and “rural” might be an understatement), several miles from the nearest paved road, I’ve been fortunate to act as a resource over the years on sourcing in areas outside of the city limits. Here are five tried and true ways to recruit in rural areas: 

1. The phone is your friend
Like many recruiters, I rely on email and the web for most of my sourcing, research and outreach. But with more distributed populations, the phone can be a tremendous tool for uncovering local market information that's often not online.

2. Work through institutions
Find local colleges, chambers of commerce, and other institutions related to the role you're trying to fill. With a limited number of outlets in rural areas, local populations tend to know each other and can help you tap into the network. For example, professors and community leaders – who often know a lot about their areas and the locals – can be valuable in connecting you to the right people.

3. Use Facebook Graph Search
In many rural areas, LinkedIn isn’t necessary for talent – professional networks are smaller and more things are handled in person, locally and non-digitally. Facebook, on the other hand, is widely used as a personal network across all demographics. Facebook Graph Search is a great tool to identify quality talent in rural areas. For contact information, try the phone book first.

4. Widen your search radius
Longer commutes are common in rural areas. If you typically think of a 30-mile radius in a city or more populated region, expand your search to 50 miles. And take time to learn the local geography – perhaps there’s an express route from a remote place or barriers hindering close locations. These and other factors will undoubtedly influence where you look.

5. Look for telecommuters
Researching local companies as you create target lists is a great place to start. But don’t forget about professionals in rural locations who may telecommute and work for companies with no local presence. Many of Cielo's talented employees work from home where there's no local company office. Simply looking for talent at local companies can lead to bypassing hidden talent pools.

Fundamentally, recruiting in rural areas requires the same skills that recruiters are utilizing throughout their open requisition loads. That said, failure to adjust your searches when dealing with the nuances of rural recruiting can result in unnecessarily long and frustrating searches.


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