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What Your Location Should Really Be Talking About to Attract Talent

According to DCI’s new Q Report research on talent attraction, Talent Wars: What People Look for in Jobs and Locations, salary trumps location when it comes to considering a new job opportunity. In fact, salary is the leading factor people consider when evaluating a new career opportunity (respondents ranked it with a high 8.7 on a scale of 1-10). More than 1,000 working-age individuals across the country were surveyed for the report.

Knowing that salary carries such tremendous weight in talent attraction may be a hard pill to swallow for some communities that have lower wages than competing locations. The dilemma becomes even more daunting when you consider that industries like tech offer an annual wage of $96,370 (and an even steeper $120,000 is the average wage for developers in Silicon Valley). So how can communities compete when local employers simply can’t cut the bigger checks? Don’t get jealous too fast. Here’s Wall Street Journal’s take on what’s happening with cities and talent right now:

“Workers searching for a place to live that offers a good combination of career opportunities and affordable housing are finding the best options aren’t always the most obvious. In places such as New York and San Francisco, which offer the greatest array of high-paying jobs, rents and home prices have shot up beyond the reach of many young workers. The squeeze has even affected the Bay Area’s amply compensated technology workers, whose salaries often aren’t enough to offset the rapidly rising rents and housing costs.”

So yes, even locations with the highest salaries are losing talent because sky-high rents are outpacing paychecks.

DCI’s research supports this trend. When looking at the most important factors behind relocation decisions, the overall cost of living, housing costs and housing availability top the list in terms of influential criteria. Does this mean low living and housing costs can outweigh a low salary offering? That depends on your community’s “sweet spot.”

This month, LinkedIn and Zillow teamed up to identify U.S. metros that bring strong job opportunities and affordable housing to the table, and ultimately, where people can “pocket the largest share of their income (after paying for housing and accounting for taxes). The report is called: “Your Sweet Spot: Where Job Opportunity and Affordable Housing Intersect.”

When talking to talent, just touting high local salaries or low cost of living and housing is great but it’s not enough. Make your “sweet spot” case undeniable to talent by spelling out how much a potential hire can expect to take home after taxes and housing compared to other community competitors. Use this difference as a benchmark against other communities talent may frequently consider in that specific industry and make the following information readily available to employers so they can bring it up when making offers.

Showcasing a stark difference in pay may just be enough to sway potential hires that have salary top-of-mind. Below is just one basic example of how doing this could play out positively for your community:


Average City A City B (Different State)
Salary $82,499 $110,554
Annual Rent $15,216 $40,416
State Income Tax 4% 13.3%
Disposable Income $63,983 $55,434


In this example, City A can market that on average, people can expect to take home 15% more than City B. Or to be exact, people in City A on average can make $8,000+ more in disposable income each year than City B.

To get more of an inside look into the minds of talent, read DCI’s latest research on talent attraction.

Written By

Rebecca Gehman

Rebecca Gehman is an Account Manager in DCI’s Economic Development division. Since joining DCI in 2012, Rebecca has played a pivotal role in content creation, media relations and marketing strategy work for clients across the globe.

More Articles by Rebecca Gehman

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