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4 Talent Attraction Lessons from Young, Smart & Local Conference

As labor and talent shortages continue to dominate the news cycle, communities are under pressure to identify the trends and tactics that will help retain existing workers and differentiate them to relocating talent.

Young, Smart and Local is a three-day conference focused on gathering national leaders in talent growth, attraction and retention to share best practices, data and learnings from their own programs. Some of the learnings explore the importance of building a strong digital presence, tracking short and long-term ROI and the future of the workforce. Here are four key lessons DCI took away from attending and presenting at this year’s conference in Greensboro, North Carolina:

1. Your digital front door is the gateway to your community…make sure it’s up to date.

In our 2022 Talent Wars data, DCI uncovered that internet research is a key impression builder when talent is searching for a place to relocate to. This really makes the case for just how important it is to keep your website in order and have it ranking well for SEO. We like to think of this presence as your digital front door. This is your first chance to make a strong impression with talent – and you want to make that impression a positive one. Including data on cost of living, quality of life and job opportunities are among some of the top assets a successful talent site should contain. The key with talent attraction campaigns is to take the lift off talent and make their decision to relocate to your area an easy one. When only 25% of users visit the second page of search results, you could have a beautiful site but if it isn’t ranking well for SEO, it likely won’t get the traffic you’re hoping for.

2. Building meaningful connections is all about being INTENTIONAL

Throughout the conference, we were lucky to hear from our friends at Tulsa Remote, the wildly successful remote worker program, which is revitalizing Tulsa, Oklahoma. Essentially, the program brings remote workers to the community by providing a $10,000 grant and robust catalogue of community and networking opportunities. Along with Tulsa Remote, we heard about programs such as Greater New Orleans’ HBCU Innovation Internship, which provides students with marketable, resume-building skills in the STEM field. Once you get talent to a region, whether it’s by incentives, word of mouth or a clever marketing campaign, how do you make them stay? We heard a lot about the “stickiness” factor – Tulsa Remote and Indianapolis both home in on creating programs that not only bring people to the region but foster a sense of community. When selecting people to be part of their program, Tulsa Remote heavily focuses on accepting people who want to get involved in their community and make it a better place. By feeling a sense of community, talent is more likely to feel rooted in a region, making it easier for them to call an area home.

3. ROI is key…but change doesn’t happen overnight

Talent attraction is a marathon, not a sprint – so how do we accurately communicate that to key stakeholders who are searching for instant results? When it comes to marketing, we know we can track things like page views, but the key is that real change, and tracking it, doesn’t happen overnight. Measuring migration data can take years upon years to track so it’s important to convey this information to stakeholders when launching campaigns.

4. The future of work is flexible

As we wrapped three days of learning and fostering meaningful connections, we had the chance to hear from author, Charlie Warzel, whose new book “Out of Office” discusses the trends and changes we’ve noticed over the past few years as the world pivoted toward remote work. His talk emphasized a factor also uncovered in our Talent Wars research – the future of work is changing, and employers must keep up to attract the best and brightest talent.

So, what does the future hold for talent attraction? To be honest, that’s something that changes daily. In the interim, intentionality and strong digital presences are key to attracting and retaining talent. If you have questions about our Talent Wars report or our talent attraction practice, contact [email protected].

Written By

Allie Maniglia

Allie graduated from Penn State University, where she majored in Public Relations with minors in International Studies and Communication Arts and Sciences. She joined DCI after three years of managing the creative process for the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities in Washington, DC. Allie is now the manager of talent attraction.

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