What Clients, Candidates, City Taught Us In 2022

by | Jan 31, 2023 | Arts & Culture, Dining, Nightlife, Shopping, Recruitment & Relocation

Client Priorities/Focus:

  • 60% of our candidates were pre-decision so our clients were counting on us to help them close the deal and get to a yes.
  • The other 40% of our candidates had already said yes to the job/relo so our clients needed us to provide a smooth transition into town for the family and mitigate any retention risks.
  • The two busiest months for candidate visits were April and November – which matches the typical busy Spring and Fall recruiting seasons our clients experienced. In an ideal world, anyone with school-age children wants to relocate during the summer months and the year-end rush is typical for organizations that are using the last of their annual recruitment budgets.
  • A tie for the most requested day of service, Saturdays and Thursdays, followed by Fridays. Knowing that the candidates were almost all gainfully employed, it makes sense they would prefer to keep their interest in another job confidential, and use a “long weekend” to explore other opportunities.
  • CFO’s are in high demand. Our clients tell us they lost lots of staff with financial expertise after COVID. EA was part of seven CFO searches, the most of any C-Suite position.
  • Video chats and phone calls are replacing first and sometimes second round interviews that were in person pre-pandemic. While that saves companies thousands of dollars in travel expenses, it will never be a true replacement for on-site meetings where body language, personality and a person’s ability to read the room can tell you all you need to know about culture and company fit.
  • The recruiters we work with are almost all hybrid or fully remote which is significantly different than pre-COVID when most worked in an office 5 days a week. Most seem to enjoy the flexibility this offers so they can avoid rush hour on stormy days, balance the needs of children, pets, elderly relatives and household chores. This is likely never going away.
  • Our candidate pool was as diverse as it’s ever been, with more women, more people of color, more foreign born candidates and more LGBTQ candidates for senior level positions than in recent memory. Finally, walking the walk!

Things we learned from our city:

  • The dining scene has changed, making it a bit challenging to showcase our region’s thriving foodie scene. Each EA Day typically includes a stop for lunch at a locally owned restaurant, but so many of them have reduced their hours/days post COVID. Many eliminated lunch all together as they struggle with finding staff and the rising cost of food. We remain committed to showcasing our locally owned restaurants and try hard to support the members of Cleveland Independents.
  • New leadership at key institutions are bringing fresh energy to our region and we can’t wait to see how these recent new leaders will change our future:

Candidate Priorities/Focus:

Our domestic candidates arrived from 25 different states in 2022: Tennessee, New York, Ohio, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Texas, Wisconsin, Virginia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, Washington, Arizona, California, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Arkansas, Louisiana, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Carolina.

The international candidates arrived from England, Australia, Brazil, Grand Cayman, and Turkey – we are still a melting pot.

CLE/AKN places and spaces that candidates overwhelmingly are impressed by:

  • Walking inside one of Playhouse Square’s lobbies and gasping at the grandeur that you would never know from outside on Euclid Avenue.
Ohio theater photo after reno
Photo courtesy of Ruth Flannery, Playhouse Square Archives Project Manager
  • Driving through the Cleveland Metroparks, Summit MetroParks or Cuyahoga Valley National Park and seeing how well used they are, no matter what season, and realizing most homes are within 15-min to an entrance to a trailhead, golf course, or beach. Many candidates are coming from cities where these spots could be an hour plus drive.
Photo courtesy of Cody York for ThisIsCleveland.com
  • Lake Erie – standing on a ridge overlooking our Great Lake almost inevitably causes them to blurt out, “Wow, I didn’t realize it was so big, it looks like an ocean.” Yes, that’s why they call it Great!
Photo courtesy of Thomas Russell
  • Lack of traffic, even during the height of rush hour.
A typical traffic day 🙂
  • University Circle – You have HOW many museums within walking distance? Wow!
  • City neighborhoods like Tremont, Ohio CIty, Detroit Shoreway and Downtown Cleveland that make concerts, ballgames, and the beach accessible by foot or bike saving on gas, parking, time and stress.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Photo courtesy of ThisIsCleveland
  • The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame – Most don’t remember the fun story of how this world class institution landed in Cleveland, but we remind them, and then with a little EA pre-arranging, we show them the VIP entrance’s back wall signed by Hall of Fame inductees and famous visitors.
  • Friendly people – every candidate meets community members who voluntarily share their lunch hour or time for coffee/happy hour to talk about life in CLE/AKN. We make sure to match them up with folks that have similar interests, children’s ages, and are newer to CLE.
  • West Side Market – they walk in, eyes pop at vaulted brick ceiling, mouth waters at a dozen smells, smiles come as vendors happily offer samples and engage with customers.
The West Side Market, overview
  • Green space in our neighborhoods, the size of our lawns, tree lawns, and tree canopy. If you are coming from an arid climate or a dense urban metropolis, it feels like a breath of fresh air (literally!)
  • Delighted that excellent public schools are an option here. For many places, most everyone has to rely on private schools, often because low/no income or property taxes means there aren’t resources for public schools.

Most candidates have never visited CLE/AKN prior to their time with EA. But, they all have thoughts about what our region is like as evidenced from their answers to our post-trip SurveyMonkey questionnaire: “When you realized the job offer would require a relo to Cleveland/Akron what were the first words that popped into your head? Be honest, we’ve heard it all”. Let’s start with the positive/fun ones:

  • Cool, I’d been interested in CLE for quite a while and had included it in my job search several times over the years.
  • Excited to be back in the Midwest.

There are those who are skeptical but open minded (they are easy conversions!):

  • Lake Erie, anti-abortion
  • Arts and culture; brutal winter; Midwest hospitality; poor Infrastructure; unsafe
  • I don’t think of Cleveland as the most desirable city, but I’ll keep an open mind since I’ve never been (and I’m glad I did because I was impressed).
  • We’ve got to think about it – great opportunity but we need to check CLE first.

Then there are those who just dare you to make them love CLE/AKN (challenge accepted!):

  • Many variations on this but the key words were: Snow, cold, grey, winter, hibernation
  • Mistake on the lake, city on the decline (sorry!)
  • And those who can’t find us on a map we hear: Where on earth is that!?!; Cleveland? What’s in Cleveland?; Not sure where Cleveland is?
  • Never thought I’d live in the land of THE Ohio State University….ugh (yep, not everyone loves our Buckeyes)
  • I’m not sure I would fit in or be happy there
  • Too far from home
  • Not sure I want to live in Akron/Cleveland

And now we go forward confidently into 2023.

Surrounded by upbeat, social, and kind co-workers, how can you not be optimistic? To know what I mean, read their responses below to ice breaker questions we asked at our annual strategic planning retreat this past December:

EA’s team of Project Manager’s sharing ideas at the beautiful Hawken Gries Center

Q. If you have the attention of everyone on earth for 60 seconds, what would you say?

  • Be compassionate, everyone is going through something.
  • Be kind to people. Empathy goes a long way.
  • People, places, things – focus on people every time, that’s what matters. Oh, and dogs, too!
  • Think of every situation as a chance to learn something.
  • Arguing is not debate. You have to listen to understand.

Q. What would your Super Power be and why?

  • To heal
  • To time travel so I could get a glimpse of my family and friends in their younger years
  • To fly – it would bring a sense of calm
  • Read people’s minds so I could understand my teenage/young adult children better

Happy New Year to all! If your organization’s 2023 plans include recruiting candidates from out of town or you need help onboarding your new hire, and a relocation to CLE/AKN is likely, Executive Arrangements is your secret sauce. Call us at 216.231.9311 to learn how we partner with our clients to provide a holistic approach to ensure candidates and their families see “The” Cleveland or Akron that matches their lifestyle, so they say yes to the job offer and transition smoothly to their new hometown.