Recruiting in Rural Communities

Recruiting in rural communities has many benefits. Rural communities are an excellent resource for skilled labor. They are primary locations for tech schools and career colleges. Additionally, rural communities are full of individuals who lack decent job opportunities.

These communities also come with a very special set of challenges.

Unwillingness to travel.

Within these small communities the lack of career opportunities can stagnate the local economy. As a result, many individuals do not have the ability to travel. Those that do have the ability to travel may remain because they have family obligations.

So, finding people that will travel may be difficult. To solve this challenge, it’s important to ask about a candidate’s willingness and ability to travel. If a good candidate is willing to travel, but unable, then the company has a choice: Dismiss a great candidate or find ways to make travel possible.

Reduced or limited access to technology.

In rural cities, your ideal candidates may not connect to traditional recruiting mediums. This is especially true for skilled laborers. You will need to use a process of trial-and-error to recruit these candidates. In some cases, traditional job boards may yield excellent results.  In other cases, you may find you need to go to local community organizations for results.

Aging populations.

When a city is not economically growing, the population will naturally decline.  This is because working-age residents will consistently be leaving in search of lucrative opportunities. So, most rural communities will have individuals who have decided to retire and are past the years in which they want to work.

Skilled labor often requires heavy manual labor. So, some individuals that still want to work may be interested, but then find that they cannot keep up with the physical demands of the position. REMEMBER THIS: There will always be exceptions.  Be open to having a lot of great older candidates.

Also, be open and honest about the job expectations . Many candidates will hear about the level of physical work required and decide they cannot take on this heavy work. As long as you communicate realistic job expectations, the candidates that take on the labor will likely be able to perform the work, regardless of their age.

Complex social infrastructure that provides barriers to making contact with candidates.

This challenge is actually a huge benefit to the recruiter. In most cases, rural cities are small and close-knit. This means that a candidate will be difficult to reach, unless you go through the appropriate social mediums. Take some time to feel out the social atmosphere where you are recruiting. You may find that the fastest way to recruit is by going to a networking event or holding open interviews, rather than sending emails.

So, beyond facing these key community challenges, there are tips and tricks you can use to get ahead in the recruiting game.

Don’t forget these extra nuggets when you recruit in rural communities:

1. Contact the educational centers and tech colleges.
2. Treat your newly graduated candidates well.
3. Hold open-interviews in community areas.
4. Be willing to advertise with unconventional tactics: bars, gyms, local agencies, churches, and strategic community partners.
5. Always check to see how word-of-mouth travels and use this knowledge to your advantage.
6. Go to festivals, social clubs, and networking events.
7. Be transparent about what the job requires: set realistic expectations for all candidates.
8. Look for entrepreneurs.  These individuals have gone into their field because they intended for it to be a lifestyle.  If your goal is to find people who won’t leave your company because they got a “cushy” office job, then you want to look for people that are committed to the work they do.
9. Be ready to help with travel expenses for those that can’t travel, but are willing to travel.
10. Prepare retention strategies in advance: contracts, incentives, and flexible scheduling.

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