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The Great Talent Pivot: Tools and Tactics that Place Marketers Can Do Right Now

At times like these— when the unemployment rate is still far too high for comfort and we’re living in an air of uncertainty— it can feel frustrating, even helpless, to sit and watch it unfold.

While this season has been unpredictable to say the least, DCI has developed several concrete ways to actively help connect job seekers with hiring companies to facilitate this great talent pivot. We created ways to digitize the job and location search process, take talent initiatives completely virtual, and advertise effectively yet sensitively.

On June 25, DCI hosted a webinar, The Great Talent Pivot: Tools and Tactics that Place Marketers Can Do Right Now, where expert panelists openly discussed and advised on all of the above. If you would like to view or share the webinar recording, please do so here. If you’re keen on written recaps, keep reading for the major takeaways.

Talent Trends: Covid-19 Edition 

While it’s too soon to tell what the lasting effects of Covid-19 will be in the long run, we are certainly seeing emerging patterns and trends in the here and now. Some of these common themes include:

With the above trends in mind, there are new talent missions for place markers. We must help local employers land talent, play matchmaker for companies/industries, market location to those considering relocation, and retain the talent already here.

Digitize the Job and Location Search Process 

We know that people prefer to visit a location firsthand before seriously contemplating a big move or new job. As travel is restricted, we must not only get creative in how we showcase our communities and opportunities for growth, but do so in a way that is compelling enough to incite action. A few ways DCI has done this include…

  • Specially curated job boards: Whether you’d like to create a job board for displaced workers as an immediate response to Covid-19 or feature the resilient industries in your region, jobs boards are a helpful and straightforward way to show potential talent just how many opportunities are in your area.
  • Help them picture their new neighborhood. If talent cannot come in-person, help them connect the dots and picture themselves there— where they would live, where their kids might go to school, the best spot for happy hour. A neighborhood quiz or interactive map is a fun way to engage potential transplants, all while informing them of what a great place your region is to work, live and play.
  • Don’t forget that salary is king. If your region has a competitive cost of living, display that fact front and center for prospective talent to see. Salary and costs are leading factors talent considers when making life decisions. A cost of living calculator is an effective way to not just tell, but show talent that their paychecks will go a lot further in your area by comparing everything from rent to the price of a gallon of milk.

Digital Advertising: Let Talent Know, “We’re Hiring!” 

One way to reach your desired talent pool — many of whom are at home and online — is through digital advertising. By understanding talent’s pain points amid Covid-19, you can deliver them curated messages to meet them where they are. A few things to keep in mind when crafting a digital advertising strategy…

  • Capitalize on popular searches: Thankfully, we don’t have to guess what people are searching. Analyze popular keyword searches and let it guide your strategy. For example, in May 2020, there was a spike in people searching phrases like “best cities in the US” and “best cities to live.” This confirms that people are curious about where they should go next.
  • Stay targeted: To yield your best digital ad results, hyper-target your audience. Think local first, capitalize on the trends when going to outside markets, and keep primary motivators front of mind when drafting messaging (job opportunities, cost of living, etc.).
  • Don’t be tone deaf: As the leader in place marketing, DCI gets the following question frequently: “How do I distribute my messaging during a difficult time to stay relevant, but not come across insensitive?” When choosing messaging or images for your ads, step back and ask yourself if you are being considerate of the circumstances. Take Covid-19 for example— your imagery should not include large groups of people who aren’t wearing masks, and your messaging probably shouldn’t highlight your area’s booming nightlife. Keep it simple and get a few opinions if you’re unsure. 

Connect Job Seekers with Opportunities Virtually 

Taking planned, physical talent events completely virtual was yet another curveball that came with Covid-19 and this talent pivot. One example of a virtual talent event is a virtual career fair. While virtual career fairs are not a new concept per se, there is a fresh and somewhat untapped opportunity for EDOs and chambers in this space; by facilitating a virtual fair for your local employers— whether that looks like funding the event, taking promotion/outreach off their plates, or both— more companies and attendees will be able to participate, resulting in a ‘win-win-win.’ Here are three things to ask yourself when considering a virtual career fair:

  • What type of virtual fair would address my community’s needs? You could host a variety of different fairs— perhaps by industry, trade or an upskilling fair highlighting training opportunities and resources.
  • How am I going to alleviate some of the burden for local employers? Ask your employers if they missed any career fairs/recruitment events this year – chances are they are looking for ways to pivot these funds if they are still hiring and may welcome the time-saving, cost-saving and marketing advantages of doing a virtual event with multiple employers hosted by someone else (you!)
  • What platform is the best fit for my virtual fair? There are dozens of platforms to choose from ranging anywhere from $2k-$10k+ per event. One platform DCI has worked with, Brazen, offers features such as a customizable landing page, video chat and comprehensive tracking and data analytics. If you have questions on how to get one started for your local employers or setting up a demo + Q&A, reach out to panelist Ashley O’Connor of Brazen ([email protected], 202.302.8870). Interested in seeing a case study from a real virtual career fair DCI worked on? View the challenge, strategy, and results of Fairfax County Economic Development Authority’s Recent-Grad Virtual Career Fair here.

As we all navigate this new normal and facilitate a talent pivot from our previous plans for 2020 (even if that “pivot” is really more of a 180-degree spin), we can say this much: as place marketers, EDOs, chambers, or anyone in the market of talent acquisition, we are connecting job seekers with real opportunities during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. That truth is what all of us here at DCI like to call purpose-driven work.

Written By

Heather Gantz

Heather Gantz is an Assistant Account Executive specializing in talent marketing at DCI. With a background in journalism, Heather is passionate about quality and compelling storytelling. Since joining DCI in 2020, she has enjoyed working with clients including Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, Greater New Orleans, Inc., and the Charleston Regional Development Alliance.

More Articles by Heather Gantz

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