In recent years, access to talent eclipsed all other site location drivers to become the single most important factor. As a result, the world of economic development is changing. Economic developers can no longer attract a company and expect talent to organically follow. Now companies are driven to locate where they have confidence they can get the talent they need. This was the trend prior to 2020 and the COVID-19 Pandemic only makes it more pronounced.
Many hypothesize that with the acceleration of the work from home/anywhere, people may start to move out of high-cost urban centers. Though limited data is available at this point, it appears to be true, at least for some metropolitan areas.
The time is ripe for economic developers and their partners to focus on talent attraction. While it may be enticing to start with the creative and marketing activities, it is important to ensure you have a solid foundation on research and strategy to be successful in achieving your objectives. Without this groundwork, even the flashiest of websites will not get you where you want to go.
Launch a targeted and successful talent attraction campaign.
1. Stop the leaky bucket.
Communities should have programs focused on the retention of talent before jumping to recruitment activities. If your population or labor force is declining, get to the cause of that decline and determine if the retention solutions to help mitigate or alleviate the outflow.
2. Think about who should be at the table.
The tent for economic development is bigger. It is likely your region has many stakeholders with a hand in talent and workforce solutions. Be sure these groups are at the table and don’t forget your local employers.
3. Take a targeted approach to talent attraction.
To successfully recruit talent to an area, target the right occupations. Gain input from local employers to determine their current and future talent needs in order to define your target audiences.
4. Determine what matters most to your audiences.
When you know to whom you are talking, you will know the key messaging that will resonate with them. Talent location decisions are not as analytical and straightforward as company location decisions. However, knowing and understanding your audience allows you to determine messaging that resonates with them. Figure out what matters most to each target audience and build out your business case with this in mind.
5. Proactively address barriers to talent attraction.
The top barriers we see to attracting or retaining talent in any given region are housing, broadband, childcare, transportation, etc. Determine if these are barriers in your region, and work to address them either prior to or in conjunction with the talent attraction initiatives.
6. Meet the talent where they are.
Consider the different types of media you will use to reach the identified target audiences. For example, Facebook can be a great tool if you are looking to target and attract home boomerang talent. LinkedIn may be a good for recruiting upper-level management.
7. Evaluate your initiatives and campaigns regularly.
Track key outcomes of the talent attraction strategies that you pursue. Ensure your tactics are meeting your community’s goals and investment expectations.
8. Reflect reality in your talent attraction efforts.
Attracting and retaining talent will not happen overnight and should be viewed as a long-term goal for your community. As such, it demands long-term investment and cultivation. If you do not already have an updated economic development strategic plan that focuses on talent as distinct from the traditional categories of business development, create one.
Why Ady Advantage for Talent Attraction?
For the last three years, Ady Advantage has developed a Talent Strategy Database of 300+ unique talent strategies leveraged by peer communities across the country. We use this to help our clients determine what mix of talent strategies would best suit their needs, assets, and goals. For communities that already have talent attraction programs in place, we conduct audits of these programs and evaluate the target audiences, messaging, and media to ensure the initiatives provide the desired outcomes.