Nearly half of respondents to Springfield Business Journal’s 2020 Economic Growth Survey, collected Feb. 15-March 1, said they planned to expand employees in the Springfield market and 62.6% said talent acquisition and retention were among top issues over the next five years. Those results reflect what’s happening at Toth and Associates, a growing Springfield-based engineering firm with 115 employees.
When it comes to attracting talent, Toth and Associates is flipping the paradigm from marketing their business to promoting the Springfield area as a great place to live, work and play. New online recruiting webpages are intended to attract candidates by featuring low cost of living comparisons, nationally competitive salaries, ease of commute times and fun things to do in the Ozarks.
Marketing Director Kevin Grinder developed the new web recruitment tools. He was influenced both by local and national organizations that take similar approaches — for instance, Walmart recruiting for its Bentonville, Arkansas, headquarters and the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce. The tools work like a sales funnel to move people along and track analytics. It hasn’t generated much data yet, Grinder says, although they’ve run a couple successful campaigns.
“It’s just trying to answer, ‘what’s next?’ and bring them across that threshold,” Grinder says.
CoxHealth uses similar tools, says Paula Johnson, administrative director of development and recruitment. While professional candidates are found conventionally, making it personal works, says Johnson, who successfully recruits more than 100 health providers annually. “We find out from them what really matters,” she says.
Candidates are introduced to the area via an online relocation guide and lifestyle publications. Whether to see schools, the outdoors, shopping, the arts or neighborhoods, she says visits are key.
“I have had very few people ever tell me that Springfield was the reason they didn’t want to come,” Johnson says.
Promoting community is not the only way Toth and Associates recruits or hires, says Executive President Adam Toth. But with opportunities for growth outpacing the local pool of talent, they needed to broaden their reach. Soon the firm will nearly double its office space to 35,000 square feet – and with room to grow.
Springfield is not a STEM city, Toth says: “There aren’t many engineers in Springfield that have the experience we are looking for when hiring in our electric utility division.”
That’s about 70%-75% of its business. He hopes growing the firm with high-paying engineer jobs will help.
“We need to get more STEM jobs here; we need to get more kids interested in STEM jobs,” he says of the science, technology, engineering and math fields. “I hope over the course of my career, I will have made some impact on the area.”
For Toth and Associates, it’s not enough to promote competitive pay and national projects, Grinder says.
“You’ll actually make more money in Springfield,” he says. “You have an abundance of things in the Springfield area you can enjoy, from night life to professional sports to lake life, outdoor life. We believe we can compete with anyone out there, whether it’s large or small.”
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