As the landscape of the Canadian economy continues to evolve and become more competitive, the need for organizations to identify, attract and retain top talent has never been more critical. The increased recruiting sophistication of employers in all industries, coupled with a 21st century understanding of the importance of talent development and retention, has led to more open minded and creative approaches to employee sourcing. A rising trend among employers in talent scarce markets is to seek potential employees from neighboring provinces. The process of securing employees for permanent, project or seasonal roles who will relocate for work can be extremely difficult and expensive for an employer if not executed carefully. Below are some tips for success when recruiting inter-provincially.
Overcoming Candidate Misconceptions
The majority of candidates being targeted in provinces far removed from their potential employer will not have a clear understanding of what to expect once relocated. Much like our neighbors to the south pass around stories of igloos and dog sleds, many potential candidates will also have misunderstandings about lifestyles in other provinces. Disgruntled people that endured failed relocation attempts (of which there are many), 3rd and 4th hand stories from friends and the internet are all regular sources of misinformation. It is extremely important for employers to paint, not only a picture of the organization and the position to candidates, but also to address any confusion or misconceptions surrounding lifestyle. For example, Western Canadian Oil Sands positions are often exclusively perceived by Ontario based candidates as “Fort McMurray style Camp jobs”
Employer Expectations of new candidates
In order to separate qualified candidates from unqualified candidates, organizations form a list or breakdown of preferred, or ideal, education, certifications and experience requirements; thereby generating a screening system for each new applicant. When looking to assess candidates from another province, this “profile” of the ideal candidate must be altered slightly. Typically the educational requirements or certifications component remains unchanged, but from the perspective of experience, it must be understood that the preferred industries to draw from in one province may be very small markets in another. Employers who remain inflexible when considering talent with experience from a variety of industries may be indirectly overlooking exceptional candidates. Employers should consider placing an increased emphasis on a candidate’s core competencies versus looking exclusively at their industry experience.
Streamlined Onboarding Process
Organizations that successfully locate and negotiate a commitment for relocation from talent in other provinces now face a considerable challenge, the onboarding process. Feedback from numerous National and Global organizations in Western Canada has indicated that 85% of their inter-provincial candidate turnover occurs within the first 90 days. In light of this, employers need to have a methodical onboarding framework in place for any inter-provincial candidates to ensure that this 90 day period is mapped out clearly. What happens when the candidates arrive in their new province? If they have problems, how are they managed? What support systems have been put in place for relocating employees? Has the training calendar been clearly communicated? Has a community tour been organized? Have regular checkpoint meetings been scheduled? Is all of the new employee’s technology available and functioning? Small and seemingly insignificant challenges or issues have an exponentially larger impact on relocated employees and their families during those first 90 days. The “knee-jerk” response most commonly seen as a result of problematic onboarding is the employee returning to their home province.
For a potential employee in another province, relocating, regardless of whether they’re single or bringing their family, is an expensive and potentially risky undertaking. Dismantling life in one province and then reassembling it in another comes with a great deal of uncertainty. This uncertainty will keep some candidates from engaging would be employers. Organizations that plan to make this relocation event less financially taxing and a little more risk free for those moving will have greater success. Pre-paid plane tickets, gas cards, bus tickets or train tickets will add a great deal of value to any employer’s compensation/relocation package. For those looking to really stand out from their competitors, a temporary housing arrangement will always signal to top talent that the employer is committed, as does a local vehicle for temporary use and signing bonuses. By offering these types of incentives, the risk and up-front costs associated with relocation are greatly diminished in the eyes of the candidates and there will also be a higher volume of interested parties during the recruitment process.
Many organizations believe they can show up in a city, rent a hotel conference room, spend some advertising dollars on radio, newspaper and web advertising and expect to see top talent walking in the door. This is not the case. Inter-provincial talent recruiting is all about trust. Blasting in and out of town for mass recruits does not cascade any sense of trust and does not build credibility with the top talent employers seek. What an organization has accomplished in another province rings a little less loudly in an area where those great achievements or milestones could not be experienced. A much better approach is to make time and become involved in associations or charitable and community events on a more frequent basis than during trips that are exclusively for recruiting. Building a local brand is a long-term solution, but an essential one if the need is a continued access to talent.
Any organization’s inter-provincial recruiting initiative can only benefit from a relationship with a staffing vendor that is local to the province from which the employer is trying to source talent. When an organization is aligning itself with a staffing vendor as a strategic partner, there are several critical questions that should be answered, before pricing is even discussed.
Does this vendor specialize? Organizations aligned with specialized or industry focused staffing partners will be better served by the specific expertise and experiences of those vendors than with generalist staffing agencies that attempt to work in all industries.
Does the staffing vendor have a history of successfully, inter-provincially relocating people? One of the worst places an organization can find itself is working with a staffing vendor that is learning “how to” or “about” inter-provincial relocation. The staffing vendor will be representing the employer in a marketplace where the hiring organization may have little to no exposure (brand) and will be primarily responsible for each of the would be candidates first experiences with the company.
Does the staffing vendor charge the candidate any fees? Employers need be wary of staffing vendors that are charging candidates fees for access to potential employment opportunities for the same branding and candidate experience reasons previously mentioned. Additionally, due to the moral insensitivity and negative media coverage associated with this behaviour, it is in every employer’s best interest to distance themselves from such vendors.
Inter-provincial talent relocation will need to become a standard component of an organization’s recruiting plan for companies that wish to remain strongly positioned within the marketplace. The Canadian “talent crunch” continues to create challenges for businesses and has a larger, real world impact on the-bottom-line with each passing fiscal year. Inter-provincial talent relocation with good planning, solid partnerships and a commitment to a stellar candidate experience is a sustainable, long-term solution that gives employers access to the talented individuals they require to succeed.