Recruitment: Going the Distance

IMG_20160904_180957.jpgWhether you are new to recruiting or perhaps you have been recruiting for the last 15 years you will have to agree that recruitment is different today than it has been in the past. Today we have such a unique market in comparison to any in history.

Today’s work environment has four generations of workers all working together with a fifth generation on the way. We have a global economy that affects us even if we are a simple local business that doesn’t venture out of our urban centers. With globalization we have an increasing competitive environment for jobs and talent. We have the ability to communicate with the world in ways we never would have considered in the past. Today’s recruiter must extend themselves beyond what is considered traditional and breathe innovation if they are to be successful.

When you are the recruiter who has been charged with hiring for locations considered some of the more remote places on Earth there are many challenges that you are required to meet. This requires you to wear many “hats” in order to succeed in hiring the right person not just for a job, but for a community.

Increasingly it is shared with us that there is a growing shortage of talent in many industries. In fields such as medicine, nursing, pharmacy, education or even retail it can be difficult to fill these positions in a cost effective manner. Finding people who are willing to modify their lifestyle to meet the needs of a remote community can diminish the number of applicants quickly.

Some places exist in harsh climates such as the arctic. When traveling above the tree line you are faced with an environment sometimes described as a frozen desert. It can be – 50 °C in the winter with snow storms that can bring your visibility to zero. The other extreme could be when you are tasked with finding candidates to work out in a tropical jungle village tucked in an area only accessible via a hiking path. In secluded areas such as this it is often difficult to obtain supplies and at times there may be limited communication via phone or internet. Such lifestyles choices are not for everybody. Such examples are often in communities that are small and a lack local resources with the appropriate skills to hire from. A challenge that is difficult for any recruiter to overcome.

A lack of infrastructure and housing can also be a challenge when hiring in remote locations. Some communities in the world are only accessible via plane, boat or by foot. In such cases, you may have to consider if the applicant has a genuine fear of flying. If the only way to enter the job location is by plane, it is unlikely the applicant would be comfortable accepting the role.

What if the applicant has a serious medical condition and there is no hospital in the community? What if the applicant has teen aged children but there is no high school in the community? These are all circumstances the recruiter needs to make the applicant aware of before a decision can be made. Failing to inform an applicant about such things could result in the applicant choosing to accept a role only to find later that they aren’t able to live in the community or inadvertently have put their safety at risk.

If an applicant does accept a role, sometimes the challenge is finding a place for the employee to live. Housing in remote communities can be scarce at times. Or perhaps the housing that is available isn’t up to the same standards the applicant is accustomed to so they refuse until more suitable housing can be found or created. In some organizations its the recruiter’s role to manage these types of challenges. Will the company have to rent, lease, buy or build a place for its staff to live?

Not being able to find local talent can be incredibly challenging. Finding someone who was raised in an environment where things such as roads are taken for granted then asking this candidate to physically seclude themselves from the world outside is a hard thing to ask of someone. From the candidate’s perspective accepting such an endeavor is not a simple either. The person’s adaptability to a variety of circumstances whether emotional, physical or social has to be strong.

Living in these remote environments requires new recruits to make incredible lifestyle choices. Customs in the local communities may prohibit them from socially behaving in a manner they are accustomed to. In my experience I have learned some communities restrict drinking alcohol which we would consider normal social behaviour in Winnipeg.

At times communities restrict outside professionals who come to service the community from developing romantic relationships with anyone in the entire community. You can imagine for young professionals wanting to help and make a difference in a community how challenging that can be. They are restricted to live without the possibility of companionship sometimes for years.

One way organizations have tried to manage the potential pitfalls is to seek couples or groups who would like to work in these communities together. Unfortunately it is expensive to relocate one person to a community for a role, but the cost of relocating a whole family or group of people can be much more.

This is why people who recruit for positions in remote communities often end up in a long and tedious recruitment process. This becomes a process where “fit” and “emotional intelligence” is considered to rank above having the right education and experience. Of course there are some cases where this isn’t an option. You can’t hire a person who wants to take a crack at being a doctor who was not educated or licensed to do so.

Whether an applicant is choosing a role in a remote location for the money, for the experience or for the adventure it is vital to be as transparent as possible. Without this transparency the organization could spend a lot of money in recruitment, training and relocation costs without a return on the investment.

It’s vital for recruiters to be transparent regarding the role, the benefits, the community and any challenges associated to them. The applicant in turn should be questioned and should be honest about their expectations, their concerns and any challenges they may require assistance with in order to make sure their personal safety and well being are considered appropriately.

Do you have other suggestions that can assist people in recruitment or would like to share your thoughts regarding what I’ve written, then please leave a comment.

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