The Coffey Blog

How to recruit big talent to a small town

Posted on: Monday, March 27, 2017

Lisa Ladd, Digital Content Writer

"Oh, you're in Walla Walla? I thought you were in Seattle."

Sometimes that's how a phone conversation about a job opening at Coffey Communications goes, says Stephanie Groom, Assistant Director of Human Resources. It points to what can be a bump in the road to recruiting top people to work for an organization located in a small town.

But more often than not, people who call Groom to inquire about an opening know that the position requires moving to Walla Walla, Washington. Coffey makes that clear in its advertisements. That means Groom often finds herself acting as an ambassador for our little corner of the Northwest—and selling the case for small-town life.

Small-market recruiting: Pointers from a Coffey expert

If you're a healthcare marketer in a nonmetropolitan market, you may understand Groom's position all too well. You may be tasked with both recruiting healthcare providers and marketing your community in the process.

Here Groom shares her best tips for getting the job done—and finding people who are a good and happy fit:

Talk up less traffic
When the average commute to work is about 10 minutes, that's a big plus to highlight.

"You don't spend a lot of time in traffic here, which means more time for family and recreation," Groom says. "It's easy to go from work to your kid's soccer game. And if you get there and realize you forgot the water bottles, it's a breeze to zip back home and get back to the game."

Promote the sense of community
Community involvement can be a very attractive benefit, especially if you're trying to recruit doctors and other providers.

"It's very easy to get involved with the community in a small town like ours," Groom says. "We have a lot of nonprofits looking for volunteers."

Be ready to talk about your schools
"We get a lot of questions about the local school systems. We provide resources when we can, such as links to recent standardized test scores, so people can learn more," Groom says.

Pro tip: Post with a purpose. Use your social media channels to share positive articles and fun stuff about your community. #greatplacetolive

Sell it if you're next door to the outdoors
What many small towns, including Walla Walla, lack in urban amenities, they make up for in outdoor recreation. For many professionals, easy access to the great outdoors is an appealing perk. So if you don't have to drive too far to go hiking, camping, skiing or fly-fishing, be sure to mention it.

Spotlight local flavor and fun
Don't forget to talk about the entertainment and events that put the charm in your small-town world—from festivals to farmers markets.

That's been a plus for Coffey, Groom says. Walla Walla isn't Seattle, but a lot of people from that area and other cities come here for getaways. A fairly regular stream of visitors has led to a bustling foodie scene. And having three local colleges means access to live theater, concert events and visiting lecturers.

Be honest
Living in a small town isn't for everybody, Groom says. "We are straight-forward with people about the pros and cons, because we want candidates to make the right decision for them."

Remember: It's about doing great work
The best patient care often occurs in intimate, one-on-one settings—where doctors can get to know their patients and truly make a difference. So don't undersell the significance of the work, Groom says.

"We may be in a smaller town, but these are not small-time healthcare marketing jobs," Groom says. "The pace of the community may be slower here, but we're competing on a national level and doing important work that promotes better health and enhances people's lives."

Related reading

Breathe more life into physician profiles
How local links can help your hospital's website
Ask a healthcare marketer: 7 questions for Jimmy Phillips