Behind the Scenes of Talent Wars with Robyn Domber

October 12, 2022
Woman smiling using laptop in colorful office space.

DCI’s annual Talent Wars report has been released and includes all the latest finding on emerging talent attraction trends.

Talent Wars: What People Look for in Jobs and Locations is the sixth iteration of the report and in celebration of the research’s growth, we sat down with Robyn Domber, DCI’s Vice President of Research, to reflect on the beginnings of Talent Wars and to learn more about how the report is brought to life.

Robyn has been conducting research at DCI for more than 11 years, but the idea for Talent Wars didn’t come up until 2017. “Clients started coming to us with questions about how to best market to and attract talent because they were getting pressure from employers and stakeholders to fill open positions. They wanted more data on how talent makes relocation decisions and that’s what sparked an idea for a research report that addressed those questions,” says Domber. “The report has evolved as times have changed, but at the end of the day, the research really is to help guide our client’s talent attraction marketing strategies.”

The first edition of the report was released in late 2017 and since then, it has been contributing to the conversation on how to win the battle for talent in a major way. The report has gained national attention, being featured in publications like USA Today. While it might seem like pulling this research together is an easy feat to tackle, as it is released in a simple, downloadable file every year, Domber shared just how much work goes into creating each one.

“It is a big group effort,” says Domber, when asked who writes the surveys, distributes the questions and compiles all the data. “When we start the initial process of creating the survey, we work closely with our clients and DCI’s account teams to make sure we are asking the questions that those on the frontlines of talent attraction have.”

After the survey has gone through several rounds of approvals, the research team distributes the survey to a sample of working age individuals across the U.S. Since 2021, the survey has honed in on those who have actually undertaken a move to better understand the preferences and behaviors of talent that have actually relocated.

Once the data is collected, Domber and her team get to work analyzing trends. When asked what continues to surprise her about the research each year, Robyn replied, “The most surprising thing to me is the way, over time, that talent has undergone a reprioritization of factors.”

For example, this year’s research showed the ever-increasing importance of work-life balance and tourism on talent’s decision to relocate. People are itching for new experiences and opportunities after the past few years, and they are placing a greater emphasis on lifestyle factors than they have before. Outdoor recreation, arts and culture, and nightlife are just a few of the amenities talent is considering in addition to job-related factors.

According to Domber, understanding talent attraction is not just important to economic developers and employers; it’s imperative to uplifting communities and improving the quality of place for people. When asked what she was looking forward to for future Talent Wars reports, Domber said she was excited to expand the research to learn about non-negotiables for upcoming generations and driving factors for diverse talent, possibly creating a mini-series to dive into these questions.

If you are interested in learning more about this year’s report, the research process or what’s to come, reach out to Robyn Domber at [email protected] to schedule a live or virtual presentation. You can also download this year’s report here.