3 factors to consider when recruiting out-of-market tech candidates

By John Beyer  |  July 25, 2018

factors to consider

Remember the last time you came across that perfect tech candidate? They had in-depth experience with your stack. They had worked in your industry for years. They had a proven track record and the leadership expertise you’d been searching for. It was love at first sight.

Then you saw their contact info.

The candidate wasn’t located in your zipcode. Or your timezone, for that matter. The flush of joy you felt when you first read their resume was replaced with gut-wrenching doubt as you wrangled with the decision to reach out for an interview or pass and save yourself the headache.

Hiring out-of-market tech candidates isn’t the nightmare some recruiters imagine, but it does come with its own set of unique challenges. To help you determine whether an out-of-market candidate is right for your organization, we’ve compiled this list of three factors to consider throughout the hiring process.

 

1) The cost of hiring an out-of-market tech candidate

Finding and hiring the best talent in tech takes time and money. Getting your job postings on the right boards. Reaching out to the best passive candidates. Phone screens and on-site interviews. Skill tests and background checks. This is nothing new for seasoned tech recruiters, but pursuing an out-of-market candidate can add another layer of semi-hidden costs to the process.

Let’s start with the most tangible number: the salary offer. In its State of U.S. Salaries report, Hired examined salary figures for software engineers across America. Aside from reminding those of us who chose not to pursue a degree in computer science of our poor decision-making skills (there’s an awful lot of zeroes in that thing), the report also features a sidebar highlighting the disparity between salary offers made to local vs. transplant candidates.

On average, transplant tech candidates receive offers more than $9,000 per year higher than their local counterparts.

As painful as an extra $9,000 each year may sound, above average salary offers can pale in comparison with the cost of relocating a new hire. In its Relocation Statistics report,

Urbanbound found that, on average, companies pay $19,309 to relocate a new-hire renter and $72,672 for a homeowner.

For the sake of this discussion, let’s say you hire an out-of-market homeowner and retain them for five years. By the end of their tenure with your company, this individual will have cost your organization nearly $120,000 more than a local candidate. That’s not an insignificant figure.

 

2) Time to relocate an out-of-market tech candidate

An improving economy and tighter labor pool have led to a job-seeker’s market, and hiring timelines are growing longer by the month. Per DHI Hiring Indicators, the national mean vacancy duration currently sits at a near-historic 29.2 days. When we narrow our focus to the tech market, we find the average time-to-hire for software engineers grows to 35 days. Supply-and-demand fundamentals for individual programming languages will influence this figure, but it’s clear that hiring a tech candidate can be a lengthy process.

Hiring an out-of-market tech candidate is very likely to make the process even longer.

Urbanbound also examined the timelines associated with relocating new hires, and the numbers are pretty striking. Per the report, employers give transfer candidates an average of two weeks to consider and accept an offer. On top of the two-week consideration period, employers provide an average of four weeks for transplants to move and report to their new job. All told, pursuing an out-of-market candidate can add as much as six weeks to your hiring timeline. What this means for your organization’s bottom line will vary, but calculating the daily cost of an unfilled position can provide some insight into the price of such a lengthy process.

 

3) Retaining out-of-market tech candidates

It’s no secret that high employee turnover can have a steep financial impact. From direct costs like refilling the position and onboarding to indirect costs like lost productivity and poor work quality, it can add up fast. There’s a chance any new hire will decide to part ways with your organization for a variety of reasons, but out-of-market candidates come with their own unique risk factors.

  • Will they be comfortable in their new setting? You can be fairly confident local candidates won’t succumb to bouts of homesickness three weeks after their start date, but out-of-market candidates are a question mark. A programmer who relocated from San Francisco or New York to Small Town USA is in for a culture shock that could impact their satisfaction.
  • Will they mesh with your organization’s culture? Onsite interviews are a great method for judging cultural fit, but with out-of-market candidates, this may not be an option. If your organization is unable to bring in out-of-market candidates for onsite interviews, you may want to reconsider.
  • How will their family adapt to the transition? Even if you pull off the perfect relocation with a dream candidate, you can’t account for how their family will adapt to their new home. If their family is unhappy, your new hire could be gone before you know it.

If after reading this article you find yourself vowing never to pursue an out-of-market tech candidate, take a deep breath and count to 10. There is no reason to dismiss the possibility of hiring a transplant candidate out of hand. In the quest for top talent, you’re almost guaranteed to come across a situation which will require you to cast a wider net and look beyond your local candidate base. By recognizing and planning for potential roadblocks, you can avoid many of the hassles that make recruiting out-of-market candidates such a challenge and grow your candidate pool nationwide.

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