With candidates wielding the power in the current job market, companies are having to work a lot harder than before to recruit and retain top talents. But, if you’re out scouting for talent in a remote location, you can expect to feel the heat even more strongly. In my experience of recruiting for rural locations, I’ve always felt that a brand with a strong message has a clear edge over its competitors when it comes to attracting potential candidates. In one of my previous articles, I’ve written about how to create a compelling pitch to sell a remote location to potential candidates.

However, in addition to having a strong message, there’s also something else you need in order to fill your open jobs more effectively — creativity or the ability to think outside the box. In the words of Dr. John Sullivan, a globally recognized thought-leader in the field of HR and talent management:

“If you want to succeed in the war for talent, you will find that it takes a great deal of creativity and innovation. The staid old approach won’t “cut it” in a world that expects “WOWs.” You must stand out from the crowd if you are going to get the attention of top talent.”

So if you’ve been using the same recruiting methods and practices when hiring talent for your rural office, it’s probably time to rethink your current approach. Here are some ways you can shake up your recruitment approach.

Understand Who You Are Recruiting and Explore More Effective Sourcing Methods
Traditional sourcing methods like posting on job boards, attending campus career fairs etc. are time-consuming and rarely bring desired results anymore, especially when you’re looking for a specific breed of interested candidates — ones that possess the right skill set along with the desire to relocate. Plus, these recruiting methods aren’t effective if you want to stand out from the herd in posing as an attractive option for job seekers.

Today when going by the old rulebook no longer applies, it calls for experimenting with new and innovative ways to lure potential candidates. Honestly this isn’t new information. As Recruiters we have to be better at understanding the business and understanding the competitive landscape. For starters, in order to be effective at sourcing, you need to do your homework. Conduct extensive research in order to have a good understanding of who your ideal candidate is, which universities are in the area, who the largest employers are in the area, and the workforce you have around you in the surrounding towns.

Once you have a good understanding of who you are trying to hire and where you may find them, experiment with new and innovative ways to lure potential candidates, such as:

• Reach out to skilled candidates that may have gone to school in the local area or have an affiliation with the community in some way.
• Conduct a LinkedIn search to find people who are already familiar with the location. LinkedIn can be overused for InMail blasting, but is still the best research tool around.
• Scan your competitors or other local employers in the area who may be hiring people with the same skills as you are.
• Understand if there are people who may fit your organization. They may not be perfect, but with a little training they will be.
• It’s also a good idea to look at other rural-based competitors. If a candidate was willing to relocate once for an opportunity, it may not be far-fetched for them to consider moving again.

Don’t Be Afraid to Promote Someone
Often companies get stuck or hung up on finding a candidate that already has a specific job title. But think about how hard it is to entice a current director in Denver to move to Topeka, KS for a lateral move.
You may have better luck reaching out to current managers to position this role as a great opportunity for upward mobility in their career. We often have success targeting strong managers for director level roles. This gives people the ability to move up when moving to a new company. If they are going to leave a place where they are happy or content, it has to be a good career move and/or be an increase in compensation.

Introduce New Benefits
We all know relocating employees comes at a cost. When encouraging a candidate to relocate, you can’t expect to pay them the same salary. Unless the cost of living differentiation is substantial — let’s say from San Diego, CA to Pueblo, CO for example — you may have to pay above what your target compensation is in order to attract good talent in a remote location.
Companies have become very sophisticated when it comes to paying people. With compensation groups using industry survey data, people are essentially being paid the same from company to company. So if you are trying to get someone to move, you will more than likely have to pay more than the typical 50-75th percentile. I know that may not sit well, but it is realistic in today’s market.

Another area to look at is your benefits package. For example, can you offer corporate housing to use for a period of time? However, you can also go beyond attractive packages and relocation expenses to introduce benefits that not many employers are providing. For instance, reimbursing travel and living expenses for the employee to commute during the week, but allowing them to return home on the weekends is an emerging new trend known as “super commuting.” This is especially beneficial when the employee doesn’t want to uproot their family but still considers the job opportunity to be worth it. But of course, this works for those people who are willing to commute long distances once or twice a week.
Some companies like Facebook follow yet another strategy. They pay their employees a monthly stipend to encourage them to live closer to the office. Why would you think this works? Because longer commute time dramatically cuts down employee productivity, disrupts work/-life balance, and lowers workplace satisfaction. Supporting this fact is a research by Cornerstone OnDemand Inc. that found workers with commutes below 5 miles stick to their jobs 20% longer on average.

Recruiting for remote location requires a different approach because candidates willing to relocate aren’t necessarily where you’d expect them. Out-of-the-box thinking combined with clever tactics will help you tap into markets where untapped talent exists.