Talent Attraction: Showing, Not Telling, Quality of LifeDecember 8, 2020 | By: Rebecca Gehman
Attracting new talent – especially now, as some flee big cities and look for new opportunities – is as exciting as it is challenging (and critical). A major battle cry for regions looking to draw in these new professionals hinges on quality of life. Our place is better! Healthier! Greener! Friendlier! Has better jobs and cooler companies!
Words, however, aren’t enough anymore.
Think about it. It’s easy to tell people that your destination has a great quality of life. No one is really pushing a contrarian viewpoint. No region or city is out there saying, “Hey, we have a pretty mediocre quality of life,” at least none that are truly attracting new talent! It’s more important than ever to stand out from the herd. This is where a bit of creativity comes into place.
Substantiating those claims by showing, and not telling, is key to succeeding. From social media campaigns and strong video content to testimonials and events, placemaking is about engaging the senses to show more fully that your city/region has the quality of life that makes it worthy of their consideration. Let’s take a look at a few of the considerations to get you started thinking this way, if you’re not already.
The most important way to showcase the quality of life is not through facts and figures. Many parks, low rents, great restaurants – it’s all fine and important, yes. It is, however, not necessarily doing any real explaining to people looking to move to your destination. If an individual knows you have 100 green spaces, that doesn’t paint a very vivid mental picture.
Instead of simply enumerating your list of qualities, look to people to share their stories, to create narratives around these qualities.. Discuss how rents are low compared to comparable regions and how that has let some people do remarkable things, like buying vacation homes or starting their dream business Show us the variety of restaurants by introducing us to local chefs and restaurateurs who have moved into your region.
You may think this is the job of the media to find and tell these stories – and they will eventually – but relying on other people to toot your horn is not a proactive solution. As a region or city, you need to do some work internally to highlight these stories, including the characters that make them so compelling, like this example NC Triad did for its success stories.
One part of this storytelling is showcasing where it counts. Social media. Professionals you are looking to attract – including millennials and as they graduate college, Gen-Zers – are fully immersed online. They don’t want to read news piece about the quality of life in a region. They want to see it on Twitter or Instagram.
Imagine scrolling through an Instagram feed and stumbling on some great-looking photos of a place, and then diving into the Instagram story and seeing some really great, engaging storytelling. It’s direct. It’s powerful. It’s easier than you think. Or, one of your favorite influencers just posted about their recent remote workcation in a place you always dreamed about – you take notes for your next trip just as their thousands of other loyal followers did.
Talent attraction is evolving, and we must all evolve with it. Tomorrow’s professionals will be even more digitally savvy than today’s, so there’s no use waiting. Working with social media influencers and beefing up a social media presence now is an investment for the future, well beyond this pandemic.
And when it comes to storytelling and social media, let’s not shy away from questions of format. Words are fine. Images are good. But video is great. People are accustomed, thanks to the lockdowns but also just the advancements in technology, of visiting places virtually. High quality video content is a pivotal part of this.
When it comes to showcasing your natural or cultural or social assets, video is one of the best ways to do it. It allows future talent to not only see, but to hear and, in part, experience it. You might promote having lots of green space, but walking through a pristine botanical garden in a video dedicated to highlighting these green spaces is infinitely more powerful.
It doesn’t require a high budget production team, if that’s your fear. Instagram stories and even TikTok – if you venture that far – allow anyone with a quality smartphone to develop video. Good storytelling is good storytelling no matter what kind of paper it’s printed on, and video content is arguably the same. We don’t need the best quality, just the best content.
But please, don’t overdo it on the drone footage – too many communities look like the same cookie-cutter place with this angle – show us the view from the ground!
Events – Even virtually
Again, thanks to COVID-19, people are living in a virtual Zoom world. We’ve almost gone beyond Zoom fatigue to simply accepting it. Zoom is the board room of society, and it’s here to stay.
Your region or city can tap into this potential to hold events to attract potential talent. In tandem with the above storytelling techniques, why not consider hosting meet and greets to introduce locals to prospective future locals? It’s an effective way to tell these stories live and to put an undeniably human face on your region.
It also gives professionals the chance to ask questions and get real answers, creating deeper bonds with your region before even stepping foot in it. Perhaps you could have targeted meetings for parents, for members of the LGBTQ community, for entrepreneurs – all in the hopes of connecting like-minded people and to let them ask the questions that are relevant to their particular concerns.
An added perk? It allows people to network and lay groundwork for their arrival in a new city or region, helping to decrease stress and bolster the overall perception of a high quality of life. DCI’s virtual career fair service is an example of how you can engage with this now during this pandemic era. There are others out there, but we are, of course, biased.
Of course enacting all of this storytelling and having the time to show and not tell is a whole issue unto itself. At DCI, our Economic Development team spends time creating the content and reaching out to partners to help tell these stories, and we’re available to help spark some ideas if you want to learn more about showing off the quality of life in your region or city. Check out our Talent Wars 2020 study for more insight and original research.