Stop focusing on what Omaha is not. Don’t try to compete with big city/coastal amenities. Focus on what Omaha is, what Omaha’s values are, and recruit people on those benefits and values. When you think about it, those really are “our people”.
Earlier this year, I went to a small breakfast with senior business leaders here in Omaha. The topic was recruiting talent in the Midwest. The members of the Fortune 50 companies went to their traditional playbook of bigger comp and the need for coastal talent. They started talking about all the shortcomings of Omaha compared to the Bay Area or NYC. Blah, blah, blah.
After about 10 minutes, they came to an agreement that they would just have to offer more in comp to get people to come to Omaha. I finally stood and said, “You guys are missing it. If you can recruit someone to Omaha based solely on pay, but that person feels they are in exile in some backwater frontier land, they will likely do a crappy job and leave far before they ever offer any real value to the organization. You are wasting your time and resources.”
If you find the recruit who loves the idea of going to the kids’ soccer game and running into people they know over taking pictures of their meal at the newest 5-star restaurant, you may be on the right track. If this recruit likes to hold the door open for others and says thank you to the waiter at lunch versus telling you how much they paid for Broadway tickets, you may be getting closer. If you find someone who loves a really short commute and having a yard big enough for kids to play in versus a private car and a penthouse view, you are getting closer.
To those who ask my wife, Reka, and I what we miss about London, Denver, or LA, my simple answer is that we don’t miss anything. We get the best of all worlds now. We still have a house in downtown Denver, but do not go there much anymore. Oddly, when traffic, security, and parking is taken into account, I can get to the B concourse at Denver International Airport faster from my bed in Omaha than I could when I lived in downtown Denver. I love a great 5-star meal and traveling, but we have found it easy to schedule it out for the year and go to Denver, Chicago, or anywhere else for that matter each quarter while really embracing it. It is well worth the tradeoff.
Omaha Recruiting Company Tip: If you want to recruit the talent that finds big city amenities appealing, consider buying a condo in Chicago, get season tickets to a bunch of events, and give those out as benefits shared among your leaders.
My point is this: my Londoner Wife and I chose to move back to Omaha after I had been gone for almost 25 years. I have lived all over and traveled to almost 50 countries. So yes, we could have lived anywhere and we CHOSE to live in Omaha. We did not have jobs when we chose to move here about 8 years ago. We did not know how it would work out, but we knew we would make it work. We now both have thriving businesses. We feel we have discovered Shangri-La and are the luckiest people on the planet.
When recruiting, play to the strengths that make Omaha what it is, not what it isn’t. Keep these strengths in mind and focus on them first. Know that in some cases, this focus will chase some people away because of those values. Congratulations! You just saved a bunch of brain damage by avoiding the wrong person early. Stay consistent, stay positive, and fully embrace that people still hold the door for each other and say thank you.
If you find this blog of any value, thank you. I am humbled and grateful you took the time to read. Please feel free to share and if I can ever be of value for you or your organization, please feel free to reach out.