As sourcing techniques become more sophisticated with new and innovative methods of finding people online—for instance, Sourcing Meetup Groups, x-ray searching social networks and leveraging list generation tools—there is 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 many great jobs located outside of urban areas. For even the savviest of recruiters, tapping into rural networks from the outside can be daunting, especially for recruiters fairly new to the trade and/or entering rural 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 for those interested in tips for things like sourcing in rural areas. Here are five tried and true ways to spruce up your sourcing efforts in areas outside of the city lines:
1. The phone is your friend. Like many recruiters, I’m an email addict, and I rely on the web for most of my sourcing and research. But in rural areas, the phone can be a tremendous tool for uncovering local market information—information often not available online.
2. Work through institutions. Find local colleges, chambers of commerce and other institutions that are related to the role you are seeking 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 local population—can be very valuable contacts in connecting you to the right people.
3. If you’re not already, use Facebook Graph Search. In many rural areas, LinkedIn isn’t a necessary social network for local talent; professional networks are a bit smaller and much more is 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 can be a great tool specifically for identifying quality talent in rural areas. For contact information, make the phone book your first try.
4. Widen your search radius. In wide open spaces, it’s not uncommon for people to commute long distances to and from work. If you normally think of a 30-mile radius in a city or more populated region, expand your search to 50 miles in a rural. And take some time to learn about 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. Don’t forget to 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 thus work for companies with no local presence. At Cielo, many of our talented employees work from home offices where we have no local presence. Simply looking for talent at local companies can lead to completely bypassing hidden talent pools.
Fundamentally, sourcing in rural areas requires the same recruiting skills that sourcers and 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 long and unnecessarily-frustrating searches.