Recruiting is hard enough generally but recruiting for rural areas brings a whole raft of extra challenges.
In a large city such as London or Manchester, you’re unlikely to face the problem of too few candidates for the majority of roles you have to fill. Yes, there’s the skills shortage to consider, but for most posts, your main challenge will be narrowing down the best candidates from a hopefully sufficient pool.
Commuting for anyone looking for a job in, say, Birmingham is unlikely to present much of a problem. In most large conurbations in the UK transport links, whether road or rail, are generally adequate and capable of transporting large numbers of workers.
In rural areas not only are transport links often poor but commuting times can be much longer and driving distances further.
Remote posts are seen as unattractive for a number of reasons. Rural communities often have poor mobile and internet connectivity and limited support services.
Whether you’re city-based and recruiting for a rural client or a specialist in niche recruitment, finding staff for rural areas requires different skills and knowledge from those of your urban counterparts.
In key industries such as health and education, staffing in some rural areas is reaching crisis point. The Royal College of General Practitioners in Scotland say general practice is facing recruitment and retention problems across Scotland along with the rest of the UK, but that the problem has reached ‘crisis point’ in remote and rural areas.
It has called for improved communications in remote areas, a recruitment drive for people from a rural background and greater exposure to a rural career during GP foundation training.
And schools in remote areas are crying out for teachers with one school off the Scottish mainland embarking on its third recruitment drive to find the one teacher it needs. The school is only accessible by boat, however.
Rural recruitment will also cover anything from farming and agricultural workers, estate staff, construction workers to vets, delivery drivers and even IT consultants.
So what are the main things to bear in mind when recruiting for organisations in rural parts of the country?
Knowledge – This applies to not just the location but also the company you are recruiting for. Often businesses based in rural locations have an interesting story to tell about why they are situated where they are. Having this information will equip you well when writing the job ads or speaking to potential candidates. You may have to sell this type of position harder and an interesting back story and local knowledge can help.
Look for rural roots – Some candidates will have grown up in rural areas, moved away to university or for a first job, and be willing to return. Retention will most likely be better if an employee has experience of rural living.
Ask the right questions – Asking questions such as ‘Have you ever lived in a rural community before’ and ‘what things do you need to consider to make a move feasible’ will help you to screen for longevity. You need to make sure the person will remain engaged for the long term. It’s important to highlight the positives and address the negatives of the location too.
Look in the right places – As well as job search apps, traditional advertising and social media such as LinkedIn, consider university alumni associations. If a person went to university in a rural area they may be willing to return.
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