By April Loebick
The world of Human resources is one of the most varied careers a person can pursue. No matter where you are, what industry there is, there is a need for HR professionals. Each position at each company comes with its own set of unique advantages and challenges. Every company has a personality, and filling the halls are the multitudes of personalities that make the company work. These factors, along with a host of other variables, make HR one of the most intriguing and growth-filled careers out there.
Being an HR professional in a rural community is no exception. In fact, some of the challenges faced in small-town U.S.A. (or anywhere else), are quite different from those faced in more densely populated areas. Below is part one of a series where a smattering of these challenges are discussed. Feel free to post your own ideas below!
Location, Location, Location
Dahlonega, GA is a small university town nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, about an hour and a half north of Atlanta, which means it’s about 2 hours from the nearest large airport, and 45 minutes from the nearest MARTA (mass transit train) station. It’s a beautiful town that has a lot of attraction to anyone who likes outdoorsy activities, but being so far away from mass civilization can make recruiting difficult.
The local talent pool around rural business is limited. We pull a lot from the closest smaller cities. This actually has a benefit in that we use the fact that you’ll be traveling the opposite flow of traffic during rush hours. Everyone traveling south into the city in the morning? Well, YOU get to go north and get the heck outta that mess!
And because we’re a small business, resources are limited. We can’t just fly in folks for interviews (or pay for their transit up here from the airport) on a whim. This is where advancing communication technology has made recruiting life so much easier for us small-town businesses.
Where everybody knows your name
It’s a common misconception that everyone in small towns knows each other’s names. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t get recognized. There are very few non-fast food, non-retail jobs in the area, so we actually get a lot of applicants when we have an entry-level position open up. Which means a lot of rejections get sent out to people all across the town and neighboring communities.
And guess whose name and picture is in the signature of all of those rejections? Yeah, it’s me and my smiling face!
One time, at the local Walmart, I was picking up supplies. Armed with my handy-dandy company check and my personal ID, I went to pay for my items. The cashier looked over the check and commented: “GetUWired, oh, I applied there a couple weeks ago.” Me, looking at her name tag and recognizing it, knew what was coming. “You rejected me.”
Read more Unique Concerns of Rural HR:
- Part 2 - Diversity Challenges & Infrastructure Woes
- Part 3 - Tractor Traffic Jams & Wild Animal Encounters
About the Author
April Loebick is the Recruitment & Retention Specialist for GetUWired, an internet marketing firm located in Dahlonega (Duh-lawn-uh-guh), GA – about an hour and a half north of Atlanta. GetUWired is a full-service digital marketing agency with a team of 45 web developers, graphic designers, marketers, copywriters, and more who are dedicated to helping small businesses succeed all from a large cabin office in the middle of nowhere. She's also an HR for HR steering committee member and community steward for the Rural HR and Talent Acquisition groups.