As a long-time human resources professional in the Vail Valley, Aryn Schlichting has watched the job market evolve considerably over the years. In 2015, she founded Mountain Careers, a job board for businesses in mountain towns to attract high-skilled employees. We think it's safe to say that in the six years since she founded Mountain Careers, the business landscape has changed considerably. That's why we had a few pressing questions for Aryn about the job market in rural Colorado.

Startup Colorado: How has the job market in rural Colorado evolved since you began Mountain Careers?
 
Aryn Schlichting: We are beginning to see a broader scope of jobs and industries throughout rural Colorado. When Mountain Careers started five years ago, you could expect to see manager / director level roles at a ski resort or local municipality. Now it’s exciting to see rural companies offering remote job opportunities  for innovative tech companies and unique opportunities at companies that manufactures outdoor gear. The scope has totally changed and people are able to piece together a really fulfilling career and remain in these remote / beautiful areas.  These are just a few examples of growth -- we will cover more of this in our June 3rd event?
 
SUCO: What new opportunities do you see for employers since COVID?
 
AS: Offer more flexibility. This is not tied just to remote work. Employers who have shift employees should prioritize how they can  offer more flexibility for their employees or allow employees input on their schedules.

Additionally, employers should use this opportunity to really talk to their employees and understand what’s most important them. The pandemic has made many people rethink their priorities. Understanding what motivates employees at work will be critical to retaining employees.
 
SUCO: What are the greatest challenges facing rural job seekers and what can they do to compete?
 
AS: Rural job seekers can expect increased competition for higher level positions. The ‘dream jobs’ will now attract more urban professionals. Not to worry! In one survey we conducted, employers prioritized employees who understand rural Colorado life. They want an employee who is going to enjoy living in a more rural area, and someone who will find enjoyment in the community/environment. What can you do to compete:

  • Show you are dedicated to living and investing in the community.
  • Learn about the company that you are applying to. Share your knowledge and interest in the company as a whole. It’s not just about the job. Show that you are excited about the company and it’s vision as well.
  • Network and be proactive to make a connection with the hiring manager.

SUCO: How can rural companies create an equitable hiring process for local employees and remote workers alike?
AS: Creating a recruiting scorecard or rubric is a great way to make sure you will stay focused on hiring the best candidate regardless if they are remote or in person. In advance of your interview process answer the following:

  • What specific skills (experience, knowledge, behaviors) does the person need? You may need to prioritize these.
  • What will success look like in 6 months or a year?
  • What skills/behaviors do  you need on your team?
  • How will you assess if the candidate's values match the values of the company?

SUCO: What hiring trends do you see as temporary and which are here to stay?

AS:

  • Posting salary wages and pay transparency is here to stay thanks to the Colorado Equal Pay Act. 
  • Video interviews are probably here to stay for many companies. 
  • It appears that remote work is moving towards.

Don't miss these two micro events with Aryn Schlichting and Startup Colorado NEXT WEEK. On top of that, we're offering 10 free job postings for rural businesses on Mountain Careers. Learn more here.

June 2, 12-12:30 PM - 3 Key Strategies to Attract Top Talent in Rural Colorado
June 3, 12-12:30 PM - What You Need to Know About Getting a Job in Rural Colorado

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