Dear Claudia,

I am sick, sick, sick of hiring managers who won’t pay to relocate candidates, and candidates who won’t consider relocating to take a great job. Everybody wants what they want the way they want it – aren’t we in a tough economy right now? What ever happened to adjusting to reality? I need some suggestions to sell both sides better, because begging just isn’t cutting it. What do you recommend?

Beggars Can’t Be Choosers


Dear BCBC,

I’m sure by now you’ve thought through the obvious: this topic goes to the heart of complex decision-making for both managers and candidates. And although as recruiters it would be convenient and oh-so-nice to have access to a larger and more easily influenced candidate pool, the truth is that this one isn’t (and never will be) about your brilliance at overcoming objections.

Here’s a news flash: People management is easier when you pull than when you push. But enticing candidates and hiring managers begins with an understanding of what they need, what they have, and the gap between those two points. And for great recruiters it always, always ends with choices that support retention for the business you serve – which means closing off candidates who don’t meet the requirements or don’t want to.

That said, here are some things that may help when herding the cats:

Don’t argue relocation. Know your numbers.
Data is your friend and the best option when making a business case to open the checkbook. If your local candidate pool is inventory, it’s your business to know how many people have the needed skills in the recruit-zone. How many schools train for it nationally, regionally, locally? How many competitors use it? Find out, and go into the conversation armed with facts. If the answer is still no, at least you understand why and can easily tell the difference between tier one and tier two candidates in the search.

When two isn’t better than one.
This sounds pretty basic, but desperation can lead to rationalization and we’ve all been there. If you can’t place a relo candidate, don’t waste your time interviewing one – no matter how good their skillset. They are Tier Two in the search, and wishing won’t make them anything else. Keep track of them, come back to them if the search requirements change, but don’t use your precious time interviewing and thinking you’ll change the hiring manager’s mind. Target your visibility strategy into areas where only locals will tend to respond, and use clear language up front about the requirement for locality.

When pushing is a good thing
Speaking of basics, the level at which you are recruiting plays a role in the objections you might expect. Line level candidates may not have settled into a career path yet, and may strongly weigh the value of a great opportunity against the need to commute an extra 30 minutes every day. Gas is expensive, salaries are lower at this level, and quality of life is important to most. On the other hand, staff or executive candidates who object to relocation are telling you volumes about their priority list when declining to consider relocating. Property values, family requirements, or simply geographic preferences may weigh heavily in the decision. Listen and apply what you learn to the matchmaking process.

Bottom line is that recruiters live in the world of what is, and not what we wish it could be. Have the right discussions early with hiring managers and candidates to uncover the reality of the situation, and then get down to the business of matchmaking.

**

In my day job, I’m the Head of Products for Improved Experience, where we help employers use feedback to measure and manage competitive advantage in hiring and retention. Learn more about us here.

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Claudia,

Agree with you totally on this. Why make things harder than they need to be? Personally, I avoid seeking out candidates who require relocation unless there is a compelling reason for them to make the move...and just needing a job doesn't cut it for me. I've been burned a few times by candidates who when it came down to it, really didn't want to move, and would do everything they could not to do it, such as continuing to interview and getting something else close to home or getting a counteroffer and taking it. When this happens it's a huge waste of time and energy for everyone involved. So, now in order for me to work with a candidate out of area, there needs to be a compelling reason, maybe there's family here, or they've lived here previously and are only looking at this area and want to move back. If they're looking anywhere, but have lived in Texas all their life, I will have a hard time believing that they would seriously make the move to Boston for example, where cost of living is higher and weather is colder.

Companies are usually straightforward on this too. They will almost always prefer a local candidate unless the role is so unique that it's obvious they'll have to broaden the search geographically.

Especially in this market, relocation could be even more difficult as companies generally will only do full relo for very senior level roles as the cost can easily run 60-80k once you factor in all the components such as home sale assistance, temporary housing, flights to look at homes, etc. So, a more common relo is a lump sum of 10-25k and if someone has a home to sell, that will help, but may not work if the individual is in a bad housing market.
pam claughton said:
... in this market, relocation could be even more difficult as companies generally will only do full relo for very senior level roles as the cost can easily run 60-80k once you factor in all the components such as home sale assistance, temporary housing, flights to look at homes, etc. So, a more common relo is a lump sum of 10-25k and if someone has a home to sell, that will help, but may not work if the individual is in a bad housing market.

Pam, great real-time information about the costs associated with relocation. All the more reason to respect a budget where it exists, and clarify the expectations of all parties on the front end.
Rayanne said:
Timely feedback may change the client'/hiring manager's mind (or loosen the purse strings) if the possibility of finding a local candidate is proving an arduous task.

Rayanne, you are so right about transparency of what you're finding in the talent pool; this communication alone has the power to plant seeds for widening the search geography. Keeping a search contact list, including reasons for every close-off, is also helpful as the search progresses; such a list has saved me more than once when I've spoken to hundreds of potential candidates and the boss wants to know why it's taking so long. Understanding the percentage of contacts unable or unwilling to relocate tells a really interesting story about where the skills are, and where they're not.
Hello,

While I agree with everyone regarding not "wasting your time" when a manager or candidate isn't flexible, I need to ask if you identified upfront that relo wasn't an option. As a recruiter (both search and corporate recruiter), I have bumped into this situation many times. However, one way to overcome an objection to relocation is to identify if the job really needs to be done at one particular location upfront. Typically, you won't be successful if you push this issue after you find the ideal candidate. Plus, if you sold a manager they will be required to sell their manager and various organizational stakeholders. A lot of times it may be corporate policy to not allow anyone to work virtually.

You may find more flexibility if an organization has a nationwide presence, or the team is housed at different locations. Additionally, getting the manager to be more flexible can be done by additional probing during the needs analysis. For example if a hiring manager states they need xyz skills and the position is located in MN, prob to see if they will consider someone that matches 95% of the requirements, but as a telecommute employee.

Kristin Bolinske
Bolinske Consulting & Recruiting
http://www.bolinskeconsulting.com

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