From Hot Dogs to Metro – Finding Your Way around National Recruitment

During a recent business trip, I passed five states and multiple cities between New York City and Washington, D.C. within a matter of 4 hours on Amtrak.

As my company breaks into new markets, I have expanded my recruitment portfolio along the Eastern Seaboard as well as into the Midwest.

Coming from the Midwest (Chicago, specifically), there are many things I’ve had to learn about recruitment and culture across state lines. For example, the rivalry between Cubs and White Sox fans will never amount to the hatred between Eagles and Giants fans. The appropriate toppings and bun for a hot dog vary from city to city, and residents of Virginia and Maryland in the Greater Washington, D.C. area will not visit each other for a BBQ let alone a job interview.

Food and sports aside, there are many peculiarities to each city, and understanding them is crucial to making a successful placement. When recruiting from a national pool of candidates, it is the HR professional’s responsibility to serve as the liaison between the candidate and company as well as be a representative of the state or city.

I would like to share some best practices for national recruitment that I have learned along the way.

  • Know the public transportation system. Know what the public transportation system is in each city, how it works and and if it’s punctual: New York –  Subway, Washington, D.C. – Metro, Chicago – L, Philadelphia – SEPTA, and Baltimore – MARC Train.
  • Visit the organization or company to know where it is located as well as to assess the culture.
  • Know your candidates. For local candidates, know where they live in relation to the organization and be able to give them directions and key landmarks. For national candidates, include a Skype interviews as a preliminary search step in order to confirm a candidate’s interest before putting them on a plane or train. Skype is an incredible tool and it’s FREE!
  • Understand tenure. A government contractor’s resume from Washington, D.C. make look choppy compared to other cities where contract roles are less frequent and retention is greater. It is the responsibility of HR to debrief the Hiring Manager during their review of resumes.
  • Confirm and reconfirm a company’s relocation policy. Know whether is is a partial or full relocation package and exactly what it does – and does not – include.

It’s very easy for an unemployed applicant in California to apply to a position in St. Louis, Missouri but when push comes to shove, will they relocate? As a recruiter, it is imperative not to be overeager because you found the best Marketing Director West of the Mississippi on LinkedIn.  Try a Skype conversation first, and then proceed with caution. Roots are strong and they can impact a search’s success if the applicant is not committed – and fully prepared..

While I’ll never put ketchup on my hot dog, I have enjoyed some cheese wiz on a Philly cheesesteak from South Street. There is an incredible amount of talent available and very unique and interesting opportunities nationwide.

Happy Hunting!

Photo credit iStockphoto

About the author: Jessica Gross serves as the Lead Recruiter for a nonprofit staffing firm in Washington, DC where she performs full-cycle recruiting for entry level to C-level management roles. Jessica provides career counseling and job readiness assistance to individuals and nonprofits in the DC-area. Connect with Jessica on Twitter as Jessicas144 and on LinkedIn.

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