How Dartmouth College Overcomes Rural Recruitment Challenges

“We have to be resourceful to compete with some larger institutions and corporations in nearby cities like Boston”

Prestige and recruitment ease don’t always go hand-in-hand in higher education but finding creative ways to highlight the hidden strengths of perceived weaknesses has helped institutions such as Dartmouth College overcome unique recruiting challenges.

“We live in this beautiful place in the mountains, but we don’t have all the big city, big-ticket draws,” said Brooke Sullivan, Talent Acquisition Consultant at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. “We have to be resourceful to compete with some larger institutions and corporations in nearby cities like Boston.”

To overcome this challenge, Brooke attracts a large pool of qualified candidates by highlighting the benefits of Hanover, using targeted advertisements for job postings, and reaching out to candidates who have previously expressed interest in Dartmouth.

“We have to show candidates the benefits of being in a smaller town,” Brooke said. “We don’t have traffic problems. You can go out to eat at a nice restaurant without a reservation. Things like that.”

Ensuring the institution spends advertising dollars wisely has also proven effective. “When I first came on board, we were spending a significant amount of money on advertising,” Brooke said. “I knew we needed to see how effective that was.”

Using Applicant Tracking System (ATS) Brooke and her team ran a report on their advertising spending and determined how well each source produced candidates and hires.
“We ended up cutting over $10,000 of unnecessary annual spending,” Brooke explained. “Now, we use that money on our diversity recruitment efforts.”

ATS also empowers Brooke and her team to proactively reach out to potential candidates who previously applied to similar positions. “I’ve worked for a staffing firm before, where we’d smile and dial non-stop,” Brooke said. “This is a much more pleasant, softer sell. We just say, ‘I see you previously expressed interest in position X. We now have a new opening I think you might like.’”

Overall, these strategies have helped build strong candidate pools that lead to quality hires.
“We’ve seen a significant increase in the number of qualified applicants,” Brooke said. “Of course, growing candidate pools doesn’t necessarily mean you can convert them into hires — we’re working to improve and streamline that, too.”

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