Meeting in the Middle: Attracting Talent to Cedar Valley Job Opportunities

posted on Friday, September 27, 2013 in Blog

– Britt Jungck, Director of Business Services & Workforce Development

Recruiting quality employees can be one of the most stressful and competitive tasks in any company. We have jobs in the Cedar Valley and the job seekers have choices.

So who is winning this battle for talent? Lately, almost every company that I talk to is hiring for at least one position or projecting a hire in the next six months. Numerous Cedar Valley companies are adding dozens to their staff teams each year; some having an easier time than others.

The biggest factor in determining a company's hiring success is their level of engagement with the community and potential job seekers. If we are talking about recruiting the emerging workforce (young professionals and college graduates) then this is a vital ingredient to success. Millennials rarely apply to an unknown company. They want to work for an organization that meets their aspirations, and if they haven't heard of your business, they probably aren't dreaming of working there.

Usually when I start talking about community engagement, many HR Directors begin to roll their eyes. I'm not saying you have to pass out frisbees to every college student or offer pizza and beer to every young professional you know. But, thinking through your recruitment strategy and whether it represents what's effective in 2013 might be a good idea. In fact, there are many things you could probably do to connect with more people that cost LESS money.

Job Fairs-Starting with the obvious, job fairs are a great way to meet a large number of potential candidates in one day. However, you have to carefully plot how your image plays to the attendees when planning your booth. This does not mean simply dusting off the old bowl of butterscotch discs. Today's employers need to be engaging. Props, displays, games, surveys, thoughtful giveaways( instead of consumables), music, computers, bright colors, and representatives that fit the same demographic as your potential candidate(s) are all a great start.

The Cedar Valley needs to have a greater, more active and engaging, presence at our local job fairs, especially those on college campuses. Why? Because rumors determine image. If they see you and like you, they may want to be you. If they see you and are bored with you, they may spread the word. If they don't see you at all, you're invisible. As a community, we have such a breadth of successful businesses, we should never settle with giving a lackluster impression of the Cedar Valley. And other towns are showing up to compete!

Strategic involvement-What's your market? Go there. If you need to hire 30 software developers and technical sales professionals, you can't just put an ad on and hope someone stumbles upon your company. Where do the best people come from? Offer internships (that pay). Where do software developers hang out? Offer coupons or Groupons for their favorite coffee shop or bar. Do they have kids? Get your brand at all the soccer tournaments and talk about your flexible schedules. You have to maneuver the market to be successful.

One local company is showing great promise with this, wanting to connect with college students, they decided to help on move-in day at the dorms. Free labor? That makes an impression! Another had free cocoa available at the first, cold outdoor football game. Yet another is using an “office decorating allowance” to cater to those who feel their work environment is important in their decision. The point is, be unique. Don't be another empty table or desperate plea in an advertisement. Be something positive that is going to inspire your future employee to apply.

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is committed to both providing recruitment ideas to its investors through career fairs and panel discussions (see our event schedule!), but we are also working with young professionals to get to know their community. We will be sponsoring five bus tours, featuring more than 60 companies and organizations, to help foster ideas for job seekers. These events have an added bonus of being able to show off our gorgeous community to those who might not venture around as often.

The truth is, we have a lot to offer. Hundreds of job opportunities. Fast succession potential. Creative, growing employers. We just have to reach out with new methods, as talent and as employers, to connect the dots and get (people) hired.