Tips for Hiring Smarter in the Pacific Northwest

Pacific Northwest states are experiencing booming employment numbers and Oregon is no exception, reaching a record high of 2.1 million last year. Known nationally as a burgeoning hub for tech and healthcare jobs, as well as the home to Fortune 500 companies such as Amazon and Nike, Portland is drawing talented people and businesses—which means competition for the best talent is skyrocketing. More than ever, smarter hiring practices are crucial to success for Portland employers, which means it’s time for some self-assessment. Is your company positioned to attract top-notch candidates? To stand out from the crowd, here are some important things to consider.

Reputation Matters. Is Your Organization Trusted?

With greater working flexibility, professionals can move between jobs, and cities, more freely than ever before. What will draw them to—and keep them in—your company? Hiring and retention rely on an organization being authentic and trusted. Candidates are looking for companies that share their values, and can back up what they promise.

A recent study shows that levels of employee engagement were directly related to the amount of trust people had in the company’s leadership. Professionals want transparency, humility, and leaders who model the organization’s stated values. As an employer, you must be able to clearly and genuinely communicate what your company stands for. Identify the values that drive your business. And be honest. Don’t try to be something you’re not. Great talent won’t last long if they discover your mission statement was nothing but a marketing ploy.

Create a Culture That Resonates With Locals

A company’s culture has always been significant, but today, it’s more crucial than ever. Young professionals are willing to take a sizable reduction in salary to work for a company that shares their values. Portland employers should pay attention to what matters to local talent. Diversity, inclusion, and a healthy work-life balance are high on the list of what today’s young workers care about, and employers need to pay attention to that, as Millennials become the largest generation in the workforce as well as a driving demographic force in Pacific Northwest cities. When an organization can commit resources and time to creating a humane culture that genuinely cares about equity, young workers will take notice.

Another way to attract PNW talent is to get involved in the larger community. Local professionals are passionate about community involvement and want to work for a company that is too. But again, it has to be authentic—simply being “for” the latest trendy cause won’t cut it. Take time to identify one or two local charities, professional organizations, or community projects that your company can volunteer with. Investing in long-term local partnerships will not only provide your organization an opportunity to give back, it also puts your finger on the pulse of your community, and attracts talent that resonates with your values.

Tell Your Organization’s Story Honestly

Candidates care about your story. It’s part of what makes up your unique brand as a company, so don’t underestimate its importance. Share your company’s milestones, your failures, your successes, and ultimately what makes you different. Are you a startup that’s still finding its feet in your industry? Perhaps you have deep historical roots in Portland and are hoping to reinvigorate your brand, both these stories are important and will resonate with different people and their unique strengths.

If your organization is new to the Northwest, don’t try to hide it by throwing some flannel and pine trees on your branding. Some Portlanders are resistant to the large influx of people to the city, and won’t be shy about saying so. But once more, authenticity is key. Be open and honest about why you’re here, and why you love the Northwest. Share what brought you here, and invest in an effort to contribute to what makes this region so special.

Connect With Northwest Professionals

You’re probably already aware that the best candidates are generally not looking for work. This means, as frustrating as it can be, your job postings and recruiting emails will likely not get you all the way to your HR goals. To attract highly qualified candidates, it’s going to take a long-term approach. And, remember, job seekers use a plethora of resources to learn about possible opportunities, so actively engage them in different ways.

  • Your website is often the first place a candidate meets you, and it must pique their interest and imagination instantly. In a creative city like Portland, to stand out from the competition you have to be on the cutting edge of innovative design, clarity of brand, and mobility. All of this communicates why a candidate should choose your company. If your website is outdated, spend the time and resources to bring it up to speed—the last thing you want is someone losing interest because your page is loading too slowly. It happens!
  • Personal referrals are crucial in attracting new talent over time. That’s where your genuine and values-driven culture will pay dividends. If you’ve taken the time to hear from your employees about what’s important to them, they will feel seen and appreciated and chances are they’ll attract like-minded individuals. PNW professionals have access to a vibrant local networking scene and good news travels fast in a small city. Using employee-authored stories on social media is another effective tool. There’s nothing better than your own employees talking about why your company is the best place to work.

Embrace a Modern Workplace: Be Flexible

Hiring in the Pacific Northwest is all about flexibility. We’ve become a mecca for freelancers and remote workers, and non-traditional work hours are becoming a norm. If your company is still stuck in a 9-5 schedule, you’ll quickly find yourself becoming irrelevant. With Portland’s vast array of amazing coffee shops to work from, as well as numerous creative and co-working spaces, candidates are attracted to a versatile lifestyle, not working from an office all day. Make sure your company’s policies aren’t stuck in the last decade if you want to attract the professionals who think and work outside the mold.

Be Transparent During the Interview Process

Finally, you’ve brought in an exciting candidate for an interview and you might think you’ve sealed the deal. Perhaps ten years ago, when jobs were tight. But today, it’s not unusual for candidates to have several interviews lined up, using each one to carefully decide what might be a good fit for them. Stand out by authentically offering the candidate a glimpse into your company’s culture, by asking them what they’re looking for in an employer, and emphasizing how their goals and aspirations are important to you and the success of your company. Then, don’t hesitate to make a competitive, enthusiastic offer once you’ve found the right person for the job.

Hiring smarter in the PNW means taking an honest look at what your company stands for. Start by telling your story, then connect with local candidates in meaningful ways. Soon you’ll be reaping the benefits of a robust, authentic recruiting strategy: attracting the very best in the Pacific Northwest.