Recruiting from the Middle of Nowhere

The evolution of the Internet, teleworker technology, and the current shift in workforce demographics offer employment possibilities we once only dreamed about during our daily commutes. For a growing number of recruiters, working remotely is the new virtual reality.

I am one of a growing number of people who work virtually. A couple of years ago, I moved from Warwick, New York, to Columbia County, Pennsylvania. Warwick was a great place to live; a nice town about 65 miles northwest of NYC, but the cost of living was becoming absurd.

We chose Columbia County because we drove through it often on trips to visit my parents in Ohio. As it turns out, we chose well; Columbia County was recently ranked #1 as the Best Place for Rural Living in the Northeast United States, and #5 overall in the nation.

Beauty aside, the only real disadvantage of living here is a lack of major employers. Otherwise, we are just over three hours away from New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, or Washington, DC. Close enough for weekend trips, but far enough to make a daily commute impractical.

I experienced no major calamities or disasters when I first started working remotely. I knew my work and how to go about it. The biggest problem was the nagging barrier of isolation. My new manager was happy with my abilities and results, but I needed to overcome a lack of personal interaction. I was productive, but always felt I had to prove I was doing just a little bit more.

That mild worry was short-lived…until my satellite Internet service provider began experiencing connectivity issues during its acquisition. How embarrassing to have my manager in Chicago waiting on the phone for what seems like an eternity before your screens are in synch when discussing a salient point about my additional workload! This problem was remedied soon afterwards when we moved into our new home, complete with high-speed cable.

Virtual Workers Make Sense for Recruitment

In 1997, there were approximately 8 million people involved in some form of virtual work, according to the International Association of Virtual Organizations.

The Gartner Group, a technology research firm, predicts that this year alone, approximately 41 million employees around the world will spend at least one day a week working virtually. Nearly 100 million will work from home at least one day each month. The largest proportion of these employees will be U.S. workers.

A growing number of forward-thinking companies are embracing virtual employees for a host of positions, not only for temporary needs, but on a full-time basis. Consider adding recruiters not only from the middle of nowhere, but also consider having recruiters search out candidates to fill your other positions from anywhere; even the middle of nowhere.

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The array of technologies available to companies and teleworkers is now at the point where virtual meetings are common for participants on a global scale, with little attention paid to the virtual aspect. Indeed, companies like AT&T, Nortel, Amgen, and Sun are leading the way with these technologies.

Here is a glimpse into how it works for Sun, and how it could work for you and/or your client companies as well:

Sun CIO Bill Vass reports that its virtual employees use Sun Ray, a diskless ultra-thin client computer that runs off an employee’s corporate badge.

When a user inserts his corporate ID badge into the Sun Ray, the device communicates to Sun Ray servers at headquarters. Those servers manage all the data and applications, including VoIP soft phones, and simply deliver the GUI to the remote user. The badge contains a small Java chip that handles authentication and encryption. The result is a mobile workforce that is far more secure, and easier to support and administer than traditional laptop-wielders.

The Sun Rays cost just $200 apiece and require the same amount of technical support as a typical TV, meaning zero.

The company says it saves $15 million a year in administrative costs alone, and $2.8 million in power costs. As many as 17,000 of Sun’s 33,000 employees work virtually in some capacity.

Alan LaRotonda is a talent acquisition professional who has worked since 1993 recruiting talent in the semiconductor, pharmaceutical, biotech, energy, and medical device recruitment arenas. He has worked with major technology firms such as Intel, Motorola, Dell, AMD, and Samsung. Alan is a charter member on the Board of Directors for the New Jersey Metro Employment Management Association. He has been working virtually as a recruitment consultant/sourcer since 2006.


3 Comments on “Recruiting from the Middle of Nowhere

  1. Alan, my experience has been, “virtual recruiters accomplish virtually nothing”

    anyone I’ve ever hired has been ineffective (and they had experience)

  2. Yikes, I don’t even have time to read the article. I just saw Mark’s comment and wanted to balance it with mentioning my 22 years of recruiting and having that include about 6 placements EVER that were within 500 miles of where I was… 🙂

  3. Wow! Mark, for a recruiter, recruiting leader or businessperson involved in the Staffing Industry, comments like “virtual recruiters accomplish virtually nothing” says so much more about you than the subject you are commenting on.

    Clearly, if someone were to share their thoughts about how they tackle opportunity and balance their lives, the least you could do is respond with constructive advice rather than pithy comments that even someone as dense as I might consider as rude.

    Perhaps sharing why your “virtual” efforts failed to elicit successful placements or, how you manage to stay within budget using only non-virtual tools would add value to all those aspiring recruiters and recruiting leaders and recruiting businesspeople who could emulate your real world methodology.

    And you must have tried to innovate. I would hate to think you are not online and never have been and simply do the same thing you’ve always done while the world shifted beneath your feet. How sad that would be. Please offer some pointers.

    As someone with more years in recruiting, staffing and leadership development than most, I try not to say anything about my experiences before…say 2 years ago as the rate of change is increasing and the need to experiment is critical. “Innovate or die” might be a better motto than the one you are pushing. I learned quite a bit form Alan and shared my comments with him personally as this does not seem the appropriate forum for engaging others

    I do know that larger firms have reduced their hires from external agency sources from nearly 10% in the 90’s to less than 3% today. I do know of at least 80 large firms that have, in the last month, shutdown 3rd party sources totally until further notice. 10s of thousands of recruiters have been laid off. The oppportunity to support our community, brofession or industry suggests you could do better.

    Gerry Crispin

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