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The candidate for the medical school position had superlative credentials, having done his postdoctoral work at one of the top medical schools in the country. He was young, he was bright, and he was at the right stage in his career to put down roots.
There was only one small problem. He was hesitant to move to South Bend because, he said, “It’s too cold.”
|Dr. Rudolph M. Navari, assistant dean and director of Indiana University School of Medicine-South Bend|
Eventually, he decided to come for an interview, accompanied by his wife, a Ph.D. recipient in Latin American studies who had been teaching at a small college. When she found out that University of Notre Dame faculty had been writing the texts she was using in her classes, “she was really excited,” says Dr. Rudolph M. Navari, assistant dean and director of Indiana University School of Medicine-South Bend.
It’s Navari’s job to recruit top-flight talent to serve on the IUSM-SB faculty — including scientists, chemists, biologists, cancer researchers and physician scientists — to serve on the faculty.
Both husband and wife were offered positions: he in a dual appointment at both universities, and she at Notre Dame. Both accepted.
“He left my office on a Wednesday to look around with a Realtor for an apartment to rent,” Navari says. “On Friday, he called and said his wife had bought a house.”
Navari shares this story to make a point: “It has been my experience that once we get people to come and see what’s here — people with multiple offers from top schools — they want to stay.”
It’s a sentiment that is echoed by a number of experts in other fields who work to recruit top talent for their respective organizations. And while the crucial factors that bring a specific candidate to a specific industry can vary, the experts are in agreement that South Bend has more than enough assets to appeal to all of them.
|Student researcher Gerald Morris Jr. works in the laboratory at IUSM-SB. Morris has recently graduated from the medical school.|
Just what are those assets?
From Navari’s viewpoint, there are several:
• The opportunity to work and teach at two great universities, both of which are currently hiring at a time when many of the leading medical schools have had to introduce hiring freezes.
• Superb facilities at both universities in terms of laboratory space, equipment and infrastructure.
• Highly competitive financial packages, including salaries and startup packages for equipment and supplies. Those packages are comparable to those offered by top medical schools elsewhere. But because of South Bend’s affordable cost of living, the money goes farther. “Their mouths drop open when they see what kind of house they can get in South Bend,” Navari says.
A local business model …
|Randall Foster, regional president|
at KeyBank in South Bend
For Randall Foster, regional president of KeyBank, the most effective recruiting tool is based not on national averages but on a highly localized community bank model.
Foster is uniquely qualified to speak to the strengths of the local model. Born and raised in a family that has been in South Bend for 130 years, Foster chose to pursue his college education and career here, working his way up through local chains of command rather than continuously relocating to advance his career.
“We collaborate and run like a community bank,” he says. “Everyone here reports to me, as opposed to having all these silos where everybody reports upward to top corporate management. Candidates really like that model. That’s probably our biggest advantage in attracting top applicants.”
The bank also takes a proactive approach to recruiting top talent, rather than reactively trying to fill positions when they become available. He says it’s been very successful. “We get our fair share of the ‘A-list players’ that we want, and because we’ve talked to them over time, we’ve had the opportunity to gauge their skill sets, experience level and overall fit.”
… and a local recruiting approach
While bringing new talent to the area is a crucial factor in the city’s growth, Memorial Hospital & Health System focuses its efforts on maintaining the pool of local talent that is already here.
“While we do recruit outside the community, the majority of the people we hire are from our community. I’m very conscious of trying to reverse the brain drain,” says Jinny Longbrake, director of human resources, who is responsible for filling every staff position in the hospital. Those positions include everything from physical therapy and radiology to nutrition and maintenance. She does not recruit doctors, who are recruited locally as well as outside the area.
“We focus on finding talented individuals within our own community,” she says. “We have very talented people here, and we’re always looking for the best ones.”
Memorial has no trouble finding superior candidates for each position, because the hospital’s reputation for excellence is well known in the community. People take pride in being part of a team that is focused on doing the right thing.
“Memorial Hospital’s reputation is far and away our most effective recruiting tool,” she says.
It must be. She estimates that Memorial successfully recruits the top candidate for each position in about 95 percent of the cases.
Recruit the spouse, too
New hires at Memorial face one distinct advantage in accepting their new positions: Generally, they don’t need to uproot a family.
But for those that recruit from outside the area, obtaining the approval of the spouse is a crucial factor in successfully recruiting a top candidate.
“In a lot of cases, we’ll make arrangements for the candidate and/or spouse to work with Realtors to see the area,” says Tammy Freeman, director of talent management at Notre Dame, who is responsible for filling every non-faculty position on campus, covering a spectrum of functions such as operations, finance, information technology, human resources, communications and administration. “We try to help candidates and their spouses meet with other newly relocated families.”
Of course, the notion of including the spouse in the recruiting process is far from new. Most companies typically include spouse recruitment as a routine part of the process. But in recent years, securing the spouse’s support has taken on a whole new meaning.
“When you are looking at hiring a high-level candidate, the spouse is likely to be employed at the same level,” Navari says. “You need to be able to find two jobs, and the second job has to be a serious, high-level position.”
Regardless of the approach each organization takes in recruiting the right people, all of them have been able to attract the most desirable candidates in a majority of instances, and they say it’s a trend that bodes well for the city.
“I think there’s a bright future for South Bend,” Foster says. “There’s a lot of positive momentum here, and good things are happening.”