Ever heard of BFE? Of course you have. It’s the letters people internal to a company use to describe the assignment that no one wants, usually based on location. By location, I mean the location that everyone thinks stinks, and to be assigned there is to be an outcast.
Examples: Siberia. Antarctica. Amarillo.
Does your company have a location that renders images of Tom Hanks in Cast Away? Of course, it does.
There’s just this one little problem – you still have to recruit talent to that location. Some companies are headquartered in BFE, which means all their recruiting has an element of desperation to it.
What should you do in that situation? Workforce recruiting has a nice rundown of B&W Pantex, a firm who faces some unique recruiting challenges: Namely that they’re in Amarillo, Texas, and their business is nuclear weapons storage.
You’ll live in Amarillo and be one of the first targets for the Ruskies should thermonuclear war break out. I’m just sayin… More from Workforce Recruiting:
“Three years ago, B&W Pantex faced up to several glaring recruitment challenges.
The problems weren’t unusual for a defense contracting company that employs a large number of engineers: how to reinvigorate an aging workforce whose average age is 47 and a shortage of qualified candidates for open positions. The company additionally faced an unacceptably high turnover rate among new hires.
Yet solving those recruitment problems meant tackling some basic, even larger challenges. Since it could take 18 to 24 months to generate the necessary security clearances, getting new employees onboard and working was an arduous process. Perhaps even more daunting, recruiters had to convince candidates that there is a bright future in the rather unglamorous field of nuclear weapons storage and that living in the dusty, remote Texas Panhandle is a destination rather than a career stopover.
To address these challenges, Amarillo, Texas-based B&W Pantex, a 3,300-employee company that operates a nuclear weapons storage site for the U.S. Energy Department, embarked on a new recruiting program in 2007 to build depth and freshen its engineering staff.”
What would you do in that situation to make a career with B&W Pantex more attractive to candidates? Quick – write down your top five things. I did the same thing before I read the Workforce article in its entirety. Here are my top five ways I’d recruit to Amarillo, or for any similar location-challenged company:
1. I’d offer additional benefits that had value for the candidate, and payback agreements would have the teeth of a Great White Shark. Tuition aid, MBA programs, you name it – I’m providing it, and I need three years in return for any youngster that signs up. Hopefully you meet a local girl or guy during that time and start procreating like Travis Henry with a multi-year contract.
2. I’d target professionals who are solid but almost to the point where they want to opt out of the rat race of Dallas, Houston, etc. Let’s face it, I can get the young people by buying them, but to get the late 30’s demographic, I have to sell the whole “raise your family away from the craziness” card. There’s a contingent that’s open to trade down on lifestyle and location.
3. I’d ramp up military recruiting to the extent I could with the specialties I have. To whom does Amarillo look cosmopolitan? To the vet returning from Iraq or Afghanistan, Amarillo looks pretty good. I’d hire someone to run a military recruiting function and make my employment brand military friendly.
4. I’d look for metros and areas that feel like my city. If the selling point is Amarillo, then any candidate in the Southwest outside of Phoenix is fair game. Look out second tier cites in Arizona and New Mexico. Look out El Paso. I’m coming for your sons and daughters – I’ve got no choice. Amarillo doesn’t look bad next to El Paso, especially with the drug wars spilling over the border. That’s right, I’m fear mongering. You call it negative selling, I call it having a conversation.
5. I’d build a brand around making fun of Amarillo’s remote nature. That’s right, I’m going to make fun of where your HQ is. You’ve got a minor league baseball team called the Dillas and play in a concrete bowl called the “Dilla Villa”? Perfect. I’m making fun of it to build the brand. Is there a haunted house nearby? No? Legends of ghosts, perhaps? Whatever I can get that’s funky, I need. Let’s make fun of ourselves.
Compare my list to your list before you read the article about B&W Pantex. See what they came up with that you didn’t think about.
And if you get a volleyball mailed to you named “Wilson” in the next couple of years, you’ll know I’m recruiting for B&W Pantex.
Kris Dunn is a Partner and CHRO at Kinetix, a national RPO firm for growth companies headquartered in Atlanta. He’s also the founder Fistful of Talent (founded in 2008) and The HR Capitalist (2007) – and has written over 70 feature columns at Workforce Management magazine. Prior to his investment at Kinetix, Kris served in HR leadership roles at DAXKO, Charter and Cingular. In his spare time, KD hits the road as a speaker and gives the world what it needs – pop culture references linked to Human Capital street smarts.