Blog - Employers
3-minute read

Filling an executive position at a company in non-urban areas poses different challenges from hiring in Montreal or another big city. The secret is to prepare properly – particularly in a candidates’ market like we’re seeing today. 

Do Your Homework on the Region...

When you’re hiring for a regional executive position, you’re not just selling a job, you’re selling a lifestyle. 

Candidates who’re considering leaving a big city or another region will have lots of questions for you, especially if it involves relocating their family. You need to be able to answer them.

It’s therefore essential to understand the region and the quality of life it offers. That means focusing on factors like: 

  • schools
  • hospitals
  • transportation
  • recreational facilities/organizations
  • other services

Also, when describing the area, you need to be honest and transparent about the pros and cons. If someone arrives with false expectations, the chances are good that they’ll leave after a short time, putting you back at square one.

... and the Candidate

Another key point is this: make sure you know the candidate. This applies to any executive search, of course, but don’t just look for a candidate with the ideal profile for the job. You also need to evaluate whether they’re a fit for the lifestyle. 

At Strato, when interviewing for regional positions, we ask detailed questions to discover the candidate’s personality and interests. For example, if someone loves outdoor pursuits like hunting and fishing, they will be more amenable to a position in a remote forest region than an urbanite who loves the big city. 

Are There Any Local Candidates?

The simplest solution is to source candidates who are already located in the region. If you can do that, you’re already halfway there.

Make use of local resources such as the Chamber of Commerce to get information about industries and companies in the region. Do some basic research to identify potential candidates who match the profile you’re seeking, then reach out by phone or email to gauge their interest. 

The likelihood of finding strong candidates locally depends on the type of position. For highly sector-specific roles (e.g., VP of sales at a tech company), it’s likely that there will be fewer candidates who are qualified or available in the region. Your chances of finding a candidate are better if you’re recruiting for a human resources director or CFO position, since the required skills and expertise for these roles are more easily transferable from one industry to another.

If no candidates in the region match the desired profile, it’s time to broaden your search.

Give Yourself Time

Sometimes, you get lucky. For one mandate, Strato was seeking candidates to fill an executive position in a remote area of northern Quebec. We discovered a qualified individual in Montreal who was originally from that region and wanted to return there.  

But cases like that are the exception, not the rule. It usually takes longer to fill a regional executive position than it does to make a hire in a major urban centre. Plan accordingly and give yourself enough time to conduct a proper search in partnership with your recruitment consultant. 

Establish Winning Conditions

All of the above is academic if you don’t establish winning conditions from the start. Executives are not going to leave Montreal for Abitibi to take a position that pays less, even if they do love the great outdoors. 

Executive positions in particular are often filled by candidates who were not actively seeking a new job. To attract these candidates, you need to make sure the position is highly appealing. As a rule of thumb, you should offer the following: 

  • a competitive salary that at least matches the market
  • a good benefits package, possibly including a living allowance or relocation bonus  
  • coverage of moving expenses and assistance with relocation

These are standard at most leading companies. Make sure you’re providing them as well. Otherwise, you may not be able to secure the right candidate, no matter how painstaking your preparations. 


 

About the Author

Richard Portelance is Vice President, Executive Search, at the consulting firm Strato. During a career spanning more than 35 years, he has worked for leading companies in the consumer goods sector, the electronic media industry and the printing field. He has held positions as vice-president, president and CEO, building and managing strong teams while taking care to develop the next generation of talent. Drawing on his valuable knowledge of business issues, leadership and professional expertise, he recruits executives who make a genuine difference through their contributions. 

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