Home Is Where the Job Is

Consider the following two quotes.


“You have a superb client company, it’s a step up in his career, more responsibility, more money, more vacation, and part ownership…what kind of candidate would not go for a pot of gold like that?”

And second:

“You will never find anyone in the local market who fits this opportunity…we know everyone, and nobody around here has what we want. That’s why we need you to conduct a nationwide search. We’ll gladly pay your fee…but we want a national effort.”

I believed the above statements only once, back in the mid 1980s. That’s because I don’t make the same mistake twice. The mistake? Performing placements where relocations are necessary.

I have filled every position I have ever filled from the local market of the client company, or I placed the candidate I was working in his/her local area, unless he/she had a special place they wanted to go, and a compelling reason to get there. That includes positions that were very unique and specialized, and very unique and specialized candidates.

Isn’t that a rather limited way to do this business? I prefer to think of it as a smarter way of doing this business.

I have always believed that within 30 miles of any point on the map every kind of candidate exists, and a good opportunity exists within 30 miles for anyone open to pursuing a new job. Relocation is rarely, if ever, necessary for any candidate or any company, even when convinced their “uniquely qualified candidate” cannot possibly be a local candidate.

In fact, my manager would marvel at how I could always fill a job with a candidate who was always right under the client’s nose. A good example was a senior manufacturing position I filled for a Fortune 50 food processing company. This company had run ads everywhere, had flown in candidates from all across the United States, and had even had a ‘no show’ on a hire.

I made one phone call…to the person doing the job one level below this position at another major food processing company, located directly across the street from my client company. This recruit aggressively pursued the opportunity because it was a step up and lacked the major personal disruption of relocation. He was hired because he was 60% qualified, 100% motivated, and 100% local. This, after my client company said it was not possible to find a local person who could be hired for this position. This was no fluke.

I was trained on the conventional model: sell outstanding candidates on pursuing outstanding opportunities, and if relocation was necessary, cover a lot of bases related to the stress of moving. I was trained to go to the competitors of my clients, wherever they were located.

That makes sense, but almost always meant relocation for whoever was recruited. To me, that was always a waste of time. I knew that no matter what a company said about industry experience, if you could find someone locally who connected well personally with the hiring manager, and could perform many of the functions of the job, regardless of industry, a hire was likely. I was rarely wrong.

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Supreme Quality of Life

That’s why I created my own geographically based business model. Today, geographic preferences in employment are more important than ever.

Quality of life is no. 1, and the majority of people want to live and work where they want to live and work. They are willing to pay the professional price to do so. Gone are the days where the majority will “go where the best career opportunities are located.”

The good news is that the right placement or job search approach can minimize that professional price. In fact, I operate by the “Thirty Mile Placement” principle:

“Except when facing highly unusual economic, geographic, or occupational circumstances, when using the correct approach, almost every type of talented person can find, or be placed in, satisfying employment within a thirty mile radius of any medium size population center within the continental United States; and any company can find every type of professional it needs within that same thirty mile radius.”

Today, my company places transitioning military people only. But we put them exactly where they want to live, and that is a big draw with these candidates because all other military placement firms require that the candidates go where their jobs are located.

Even so, if I still performed search assignments for client companies, I would never look beyond 30 miles from my client company’s front door because I know the person they will hire is probably right next door.


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