Any savvy executive looking to make a move -- career- and/or
location-wise -- wants to do things right. So, all things being equal, what are
the most attractive cities, the ones that hit highest on the professional and
quality-of-life scales? According to a survey of executive search professionals
conducted by Heidrick & Struggles, execs should put Atlanta, Chicago,
Denver and Dallas at the top of their lists.
The survey, which polled 50 U.S. search consultants,
produced findings similar to another study conducted by H&S in 2010.
"For companies, this study provides general insights and
trends on how attractive their location is perceived, as well as setting and
managing expectations for how quickly it will be able to attract the right
talent to their company," says Maribel Langer, associate principal of leadership
consulting at Heidrick & Struggles. "Will they need to contact 20 or 200
prospective candidates? The desirability of location directly affects the
amount of time, cost and effort needed to recruit top leadership talent."
"You can't run a successful long-term business without the
right talent in place regardless of what city you are based in, from C-level
leadership to entry-level positions," adds Rusty O'Kelley, managing partner,
leadership consulting for the Americas at H&S.
Some of the findings may seem surprising, at least when it
comes to major cities. But New York City and San Francisco, for instance, draw
mixed reactions. They are both considered easy and difficult to recruit to by
the consultants. On one hand, there are expansive job opportunities, but on the
other, cost of living can be a barrier to many executives, generally speaking;
of course, that depends on the salary offered.
On the opposite end, cities that face job relocation issues
by executives include those with slower economic growth or shrinking
populations, such as Detroit, or many cities in southern states such as
Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi, the study shows.
The survey finds that Atlanta is perceived as the city to
where it is easiest to recruit people, with 70% of the participants saying it
has a strong business infrastructure, affordability and a good quality of life.
Chicago was also viewed as a highly recruitable city with
strong culture, ethnic diversity, moderate cost of living and good public
Denver is attractive for active adults and those with an
interest in outdoor lifestyles, while Dallas has several Fortune 500 companies
and affordable living.
"Not only are these four cities popular in the U.S., they
are also garnering international attention when it comes to attracting the best
talent globally," O'Kelley says.
Among the other survey findings:
- Talent is slow to relocate today because it is
more difficult to do than it was 10 years ago. Reasons include: decline of the
housing market and underwater mortgages and real estate; less willingness to
uproot families; and having to re-establish professional networks.
- Compelling relocation packages are not what they used to be.
- The biggest relocation challenge can often be when both spouses have
professional careers to consider and one may not want to relocate.
- A new opportunity has to be exceptional and two times better with both near-
and short-term possibilities. Greater earning power is not in itself a top
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