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Workforce Recruitment Campaigns Click With Workers
Post Date: Aug 17 2015

By The Bismarck Tribune
North Dakota's workforce recruitment campaign, "Find the Good Life," has found some success in its first year, but there are still 19,000 unfilled jobs in the state. Burleigh and Morton counties alone have more than 3,000 job openings, according to the Bismarck-Mandan Development Association.

Administrators' goals for bettering the program in its second year include collaborating with local campaigns and growing private industry partners.

The public-private funded workforce recruitment and retention program's website has had nearly 94,000 users, most of which are accessing the site from Illinois, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Michigan and California, said Sara Otte Coleman, the state's tourism director.

"We definitely got on people's radars," said Otte Coleman, who expressed hope in building off the program's successes and making it more efficient.

Successes
Otte Coleman said the state has had success in recruiting former military, visiting Air Force bases and meeting with personnel preparing to return to civilian life. There are 20,000 people on a Department of Defense email list that receive "Find the Good Life" marketing.

The campaign also tracks mass layoffs at companies where there may be employees with transferable skills useful for North Dakota companies.

Wayde Sick, director of workforce development for the North Dakota Department of Commerce, developed the Recruiters Network, another successful portion of “Find the Good Life.”

Sick said the state found companies were "cannibalizing" each other, hiring away each others’ best workers. For $1,000 annually, members can share best practices and candidates instead of fighting for them.

"We're better off getting that person into the state than missing the opportunity," Sick said.

A state survey, which had 356 respondents, was sent to new residents to find out why they chose to move to North Dakota. Half came to be closer to loved ones, a quarter came for the quality of life the state offers and one-third had spent significant time in North Dakota prior to moving here. Two-thirds were employed with other companies, prior to switching jobs and moving here.

Otte Coleman said it takes most people six to 18 months before making a decision to move here.

“We want the ones (new residents) who stick,” she said.

Because so many respondents came for family, Otte Coleman said efforts will include marketing to current residents, invite their friends and family to move here.

Next steps
"Find the Good Life" has done some city-specific emails, highlighting certain communities in the state, which has boosted numbers, Otte Coleman said, but most local efforts are being left to the locals.

"We don't want to duplicate the EDCs (economic development corporations)," she said.

"We view it (Find the Good Life) as the macro, 30,000-foot view," said Bismarck-Mandan Development Association President Brian Ritter, versus BMDA's small scale “Make Your Mark” campaign, specific to Bismarck-Mandan.

"When we come along, they've (potential new residents) already gotten North Dakota in their minds," BMDA Marketing & Research Director Judy Sauter said.

Sauter said “Find the Good Life” and “Make Your Mark” complement each other with a similar message that North Dakota is a great place to live and the two campaigns are targeting workers in some of the same states.

In the future, BMDA might try to coordinate better with the state, launching more intensive marketing efforts at the same time and in the same areas where the state is attending career fairs, Sauter said. "Make Your Mark” is also able to use videos produced by “Find the Good Life” that BMDA doesn't have the budget for.

"As these efforts mature, I think we'll find ways to work together more closely," Ritter said.

“Make your Make” has had its own success. From March through mid-June there were 42,000 website visits.

BMDA is evaluating the success of its efforts to better target future campaigns, including one at the end of this year. The group is happy with the response the campaign has received to date, according to Ritter.

Long-term effort
Otte Coleman said “Find the Good Life” set aggressive goals, though measuring achievement of those goals is more difficult. But she said companies have told her they'll know if it's working.

There are 32 companies, including those in the Recruiters Network, investing in the campaign.

“We never want to quit marketing North Dakota as an opportunity state,” Otte Coleman said.

Workforce Recruitment Campaigns Click With Workers - The Bismarck Tribune
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