Recruiting is Local I

On December 8, 2011, in HR Trends, Recruiting Is Local, by John Sumser

recruiting-is-local-hr-examiner Part 1 by John Sumser If you’ve been following along, you know I’ve been talking, thinking and researching about the local aspects of Recruiting. It’s an extension of work I’ve been doing for several years now. What I’m learning is that a significant array of factors make a local focus vastly more effective.

(You can see presentation materials here and here. This powerpoint deck (about Maturity models) is a good foundation. I’ve been writing about the topic as well.)

In the United States, there are about 400 discrete cultures. (The list of MSAs is a close approximation). They share some characteristics and vary in many more.

The key areas of similarity and difference are:

  • Demographic Shape (Population Structure)
    The ‘shape’ of the culture’s population (on an age distribution population pyramid) determines its growth capacity and agility
  • Growth Rate
    Each of the cultures is growing or shrinking at a different rate. There are meaningful trends in birth rate, economics, educational attainment and age of the culture that drive the growth rate. Some things are possible in a growth culture (like ease of access to finance) that are less likely in shrinking settings. But, shrinking settings can be more open to experimentation (depending on the level of desperation)
  • Historical Ethnicity
    The ethnic foundations of a culture often define the
    foundations for manners, family structure, social organization, work ethic, social connectedness.
  • Climate
    Things are different when it’s warm.
  • Religious Infrastructure
    While 71% of Americans are religious and 88% believe or are pretty sure they believe in a personal god, the density varies from close to `100% to under 40%.
  • Basic Manners
    Socially acceptable manners vary widely. Certain words are tolerated differently. Some dress codes are rigidly enforced. Little is documented about these differences (unlike international differences)
  • Native Costumes
    Each culture has its own variant of Lederhosen. The native costume in Northern California is not acceptable business dress in Atlanta.
  • Foreign Born Population
    Each discrete culture uses immigrants differently. Some have almost no immigrants. Some, like the Bay Area, depend on immigrants for continued growth.
  • Levels of Educational Attainment
    On average, 25% of Americans have Bachelor’s Degrees or better. On the coasts, the number is closer to 50%. In the middle of the country, it’s often single digits.
  • Racial Distribution
    All of the cultures differ in the relative density of the races. On the West Coast, new majorities are emerging. In the middle of the country, not so much
  • Basic Industry
    Much of a culture’s cultural life depends on the seasonality of the core industry. In cities smaller than 500,000, there are no more than two or three basic business ecosystems. More than anything else, this determines the availability of certain kinds of talent and whether or not the local training infrastructure supports it.
  • Educational Infrastructure
    The density of
    post-secondary schools and the quality of the elementary education determine the viability of the technical culture.

There are many more but this is a solid start.

Much of the published information and opinion about HR and Recruiting tries to establish norms or best practices as if local culture made no difference. Performance management is very difficult to execute in cold weather environments where “all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average”. In those places, everyone gets a four on a five point scale. No fives and no threes.

Silly metrics, like time to hire, are so culturally relative that trying to play with them is likely to wreak havoc on the organization. The primary driver in the most effective hiring cycle possible is the time required to ‘get to know someone’. In California, the time is short. In the South, it takes a while.

This is a good starting point and a ton of information. Stay tuned.

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