Don’t Assume Job Seekers Will Relocate

By Pamela Babcock March 21, 2019
Don’t Assume Job Seekers Will Relocate

​If your organization's leaders and hiring managers assume that most candidates will move to a new location for a job, they're wrong. While some job seekers in the United States will relocate, most won't. 

Glassdoor Chief Economist Andrew Chamberlain pointed out at a recent event that when Amazon launched its HQ2 search, many thought it would choose a smaller, scrappier city with few tech jobs, potentially attracting workers and creating a new U.S. tech hub. But Amazon chose the Washington, D.C., area and New York City—although plans to open in the latter have since been scrapped—because these locations are where talented tech people already live.

Chamberlain was not surprised. Based on the locations of people using Glassdoor and where they are applying for jobs, he found that the vast majority don't stray far from home. A little more than 70 percent of respondents applied for a job in the metro area where they live, while only 28.5 percent sought work in a different metro area.

That means most of your applicants will come from the local area where your jobs are based, Chamberlain told attendees at Glassdoor's Best Places to Work event on Feb. 27.

Glassdoor is an employer review site based in Mill Valley, Calif.

[SHRM members-only platform: SHRM Connect]

Here are some other Glassdoor study highlights:

  • Salary drives candidates to move, but culture is king. An extra $10,000 in salary makes candidates only about a half percentage point more likely to move for a job. However, having a one-star higher overall Glassdoor rating (based on employee feedback) predicts that candidates will be 2.5 percentage points more likely to move for a job.
  • Younger workers, men and more-educated applicants are more likely to move. Adding about 10 years to an applicant's age makes that person 7 percentage points less likely to relocate. The study also found that men are 3 percentage points more likely to move than women. Meanwhile, workers with a master's degree are about 5 percentage points more likely to move for a job. 

Time to Get Creative

If job candidates won't relocate, employers need to find other ways to recruit talent, according to Martha Gimbel, research director for the Indeed Hiring Lab, the research arm of the global job search engine. Allowing employees to work remotely is one idea, she said. However, while that might work well in technology fields, it won't for a manufacturing plant in Iowa.

Other companies might consider a hybrid staffing model. For example, health care is increasingly provided using a mix of in-person visits and remote telemedicine interactions, particularly in rural areas. In many industries, it pays to figure out what can be done in-person and what can be staffed remotely.

If a candidate in the local area doesn't have the exact qualifications for a job, employers may want to offer training so the applicant gains the necessary skills. Offering to help subsidize child care can allow some applicants to take a job they otherwise might have refused.

Gimbel said she's seen an increase in the hiring of workers with disabilities. To lure job candidates, companies may want to promote their employee resource groups for these workers.  

Pamela Babcock is a freelance writer based in the New York City area.



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