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How small, remote communities can attract top talent

This column is part of Globe Careers' new Leadership Lab series, where executives and leadership experts share their views and advice about the leadership and management issues of today. There will be a new column every weekday. Find all Leadership Lab stories at tgam.ca/leadershiplab.

The scenario: An executive recruiter has identified a potential candidate for a role, and places a call to the candidate in order to gauge their interest. The conversation typically goes something like this:

Recruiter/hiring manager: "Hello. I'm a consultant at XYZ Executive Search and we are calling you today in order to determine whether you would be interested in joining our client in a senior management role situated at their facility based in (small, remote town)."

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Candidate (after a moment, once the laughter has died down): "Did you actually say '(small, remote town)'?"

Finding and recruiting executives to take on roles in remote locations is a challenge that's faced on a regular basis by many companies that have established operations in such places. When approached by recruiters, candidates often raise concerns regarding the potential upheaval in their personal and family lives and the loss of their business network.

Though there are often significant issues to overcome when recruiting senior talent to remote locations, there are steps that can be taken to ensure a successful and efficient recruitment process:

1. Review the local market

Knowing the landscape of the local employment market will determine whether there are potential candidates for the position already residing within the region. It may not become necessary to look elsewhere for candidates.

2. Know the candidate's career aspirations and personal requirements

It is essential to be thoroughly aware of viable candidates in terms of their career goals, family status, lifestyle and personal preferences. It helps to establish a personal rapport. During a recent assignment we completed for an executive position in Moose Jaw, Sask., we highlighted to candidates who expressed an interest in nature the wonders of the city's Burrowing Owl Interpretative Centre. This kind of information is appreciated by candidates and helps set them at ease.

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3. Emphasize the career opportunity

Highlight the aspects of the position that may offer the candidate career growth and upward potential, greater responsibility, the chance to work with a highly reputed employer, the advantage of working at a company's head office, better compensation, the ability to transfer to other locations within the company's sites later in their tenure, and so on.

4. Research and promote the location

Describe to the candidate key lifestyle aspects such as the lower cost of living, local attractions, environment, arts and culture, community, schooling, recreational facilities, clubs, ease of access and transportation. It is vital that the recruiter/hiring manager perform sufficient research prior to contacting candidates. Discussions with local chambers of commerce, tourism boards and real estate brokers can be of real benefit.

5. Involve family members

It is critical that the recruiter/hiring manager remain aware of the level of support from valued family members of the candidate. It is recommended that the candidate's spouse be invited to visit the location in order to gain comfort and familiarity with the community.

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It is important to ensure throughout the recruitment process that leading candidates and their families are committed to the transition, and that they will ideally be moving with the candidate from the outset or soon afterward.

A recruiter/hiring manager who is sufficiently prepared for the unique requirements of remote location recruitment should be successful in attracting an outstanding candidate to occupy the role.

Richard Wajs is the president and chief executive officer of TWC International Executive Search Limited (@TWCexecsearch) an 11-year old global firm, and has been in the executive search field for more than 15 years.

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