Most potential employees already have preconceived notions about working for a rural/remote organization. To boost recruitment at your organization, you need to address these preconceptions head-on. There are three main preexisting mindsets that need to be addressed:
- The rural/remote organization is in the middle of nowhere
- Pay at a rural/remote organization will not be competitive
- Working at a rural/remote organization will be a dead end for their career
Use the following strategies to redefine these perceived limitations of working in a rural/remote organization:
1. Define what “being in the middle of nowhere” actually means
Potential employees tend to come in with preconceived notions of what a career in a rural/remote workplace looks like. Many of these notions are built on misconceptions or exaggerations that your organization needs to address when recruiting, rather than minimize or ignore them. Positively define the things that make your workplace unique. Highlight the strong, differentiated culture that may entice applicants who will naturally embrace a rural/remote career. For example, Western New South Wales Local Health District, a rural provider in Australia, built a website page called the Y Not Make it You campaign that helps applicants reframe common perceptions of rural life in a positive light.
To learn how you can build and emphasize your organization’s uniqueness, see our executive research briefing, Six Levers to Build a Differentiated Organizational Culture.
2. It’s not about how much money you make, it’s how you spend it
Rural/remote organizations often lose out on candidates who see a lower salary as a major disincentive. It’s true that most rural/remote organizations cannot compete in terms of overall salary and benefits. However, the typical cost of living in a rural/remote area is such that even with a lower salary, individuals often have a higher standard of living and save more from than their urban counterparts. Demonstrating the lower cost of living during recruitment can drastically boost the attractiveness of your organization. Altru Health, a rural/remote health system in North Dakota, USA, even developed an online Lifestyle Comparison Calculator to make this point and influence people’s decisions.
3. Show how rural/remote health care isn’t a career dead end
For many early-career applicants, even those partial to rural/remote living, the perception of limited career opportunities in rural health care serves as a disincentive. It’s true that if someone is looking to specialize early in their career, rural opportunities are limited. But, as any rural/remote practitioner will tell you, rural health care can’t be beat as a foundation for practice, either in terms of the diversity of care you will deliver, clinical skills you will develop, or patient experiences you will have. Especially for nursing roles, these advantages of rural practice are particularly strong and equip nurses with experiences that will make them stand out across their career. Yet, even for physicians, while niche specialties are difficult to practice, rural/remote providers will develop strong specialized skills that make them attractive candidates for future roles. As a result, rural/remote organizations need to correct this misperception about rural practice as a career-ending proposition during the recruitment process.