By Beth Doughty

There is a lot of excitement around the region’s technology sector these days. A recent report, highlighted in The Roanoke Times, showed that 1,250 new jobs are anticipated to be created in the Roanoke and New River valleys in 2020. While that may be a call to arms for human resource professionals, the battle might be getting easier based on the Roanoke Regional Partnership’s talent initiative Get2KnowNoke.

The tide has turned in the two years since Get2KnowNoke.com was created. The pipeline is getting larger between the business community and the 25 colleges and universities in the region. Recruiters have been able to leverage the out-of-market audience here for partnership events such as the Blue Ridge Marathon and Go Fest. The summer internship program helped companies transition interns to full-time employees. And Experience, year-round programming for local mid-career and early-career professionals, is helping to make the kinds of connections that retain this valuable talent.

Now we’re implementing a digital out-of-market strategy to attract mid-career talent. Advertising is being placed in the right markets; ones that are tech talent rich. Campaigns use unique platforms, not only Google ads, but Hulu, Spotify, and Pandora for better results. Local employers take advantage of our branded materials to use in their recruiting. All efforts are aimed at directing attention to places potential residents can make the kind of connections—to a job and a lifestyle — that can be a win-win for both employer and employee.

Results are promising. Over the last six months, Get2KnowNoke.com has had over 23,000-page views on the technology career page alone. The data also shows that web viewers spent a lengthy amount of time on the page, which indicates that they were interested in what they were finding. The page highlights jobs from the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council’s job board, affordability, educational assets, skills to success, and more.

Where is all that attention coming from? People in Raleigh-Durham, Greensboro-High Point-Winston Salem, Charlotte, Washington, D.C., Charlottesville, and elsewhere are coming to Get2KnowNoke.com to learn more about the Roanoke region. What’s more, 40% are between the ages of 25-34 years old, which probably come with five to ten years of experience – the sweet spot for companies seeking experienced hires.

Recent GO Virginia research in which the Roanoke Regional Partnership participated indicates mid-career and young professionals want to live in the region for its vibrant urban spaces, bikeways, restaurants, and interest-sharing groups such as cycling teams, running clubs, off-road cyclist clubs, and volunteering. Their personal interests play to the region’s strengths: Close-knit communities, quality K-12 education, community-based organizations, and family-friendly activities. All that is an important part of the narrative in everything from advertising to events to recruitment. That’s why the region has a revitalized reputation as a great place to work, live, and play.

The challenge is clear; 1,250 new jobs. The region has never been more prepared to meet this challenge and advance the regional narrative from up-and-coming to succeeding.

For more information on how your business can be involved, contact Director of Talent Solutions Erin Burcham at Erin@Roanoke.org.

Doughty is executive director of the Roanoke Regional Partnership.

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