As employers face a tight market for qualified candidates, some are spreading a wider net. Recruiting people from out of town can be a challenge, but it’s a way for you to find top talent if the local market just isn’t delivering.

No matter where your candidates come from, they have to be a good fit. “It doesn’t matter if you’re in the neatest location in the world, you have to sell the opportunity with the organization first,” says John Touey, principal of Salveson Stetson Group, an executive search firm.

Here’s how to attract out-of-town candidates for your job openings.

Know Your Ideal Candidate

When recruiting, you need to know what the ideal candidate is looking for — and when you’re recruiting people from out of town that’s going to involve things like culture, recreation, school options and even climate, Touey says. “You need to take an individualized approach and not assume that what’s important to one candidate is important to another,” he says. “Know your audience.”

Then you’ll need to be a cheerleader for your location. “You’ll need to understand what differentiates your town, metro area, state or locale from others they might consider,” Touey says. “It takes a lot of research into what your local market has to offer people, and within that list of amenities what will be the most appealing to them.”

Be Ready to Talk About Pay

Get a firm understanding of the cost of living in your location, pay benchmarks for the role you’re hiring and what your candidates may be making in other areas. “People are going to expect some bump when moving from a lower cost of living to a higher cost of living, but sometimes companies have unrealistic expectations about how candidates might react to that difference,” Touey says.

At the same time, don’t break the bank to get someone to move for the job, Touey says. “Don’t make the financial incentive the primary incentive,” he says. “That’s the one thing any organization can replicate most easily. Someone can always pay them more.” It sets a negative tone at the beginning of what should be a long-term relationship, he says.

Recruit the Family, Too

As you move into the process and narrow your candidates, keep in mind that the person you’re talking to about the job may not be the primary person making the decision about whether to move, Touey says. “Getting that conversation going earlier is very helpful both in the decision dynamics and the wants and needs to the candidate,” he says. “It can help give you a holistic look at what it’s going to take to get that person there.”

Consider offering a visit fairly early in the process, Touey says. Invest in a relocation consultant who can help advise families on housing and schools if they’re coming from out of town. These actions can eliminate misunderstandings or surprises at the end of the process when you’ve already sunk a lot of recruiting money into the process, Touey says.

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