Santa Barbara is a highly talented but small entrepreneurial community. Start-ups often must fill one or more of their senior positions from outside our local market. After observing this process for a couple of decades, I have noticed a consistent pattern: The closer to Santa Barbara the person resides, the more his or her talents are discounted.
There’s nothing wrong with hiring people from far away. But hiring locally has significant advantages. Here are five.
1. A back trail.
Local candidates are easy to reference. There is a higher probability you will have a pre-existing relationship with one or more people who can provide an honest reference on a local candidate. Additionally, you are more likely to receive an honest assessment of the applicant’s abilities because fellow community members are inclined to share thoughtful input, rather than the generic, sanitized response you might get from a stranger.
2. An accessible network.
Start-ups recruit heavily from their employees’ networks, especially in their early stages. This capability is reduced when hiring out-of-market employees due to the inherent difficulties of leveraging a geographically distant network.
3. Known chemistry.
There is a higher likelihood someone at your current venture has previously worked with local recruits, making a cultural fit more likely.
4. No relo risk.
Start-ups are stressful enough without adding the tension associated with uprooting a family. Locals can focus their energy on their work obligations, without the added distractions from relocation.
5. Less termination pain.
Although the impact of termination should not be an overriding concern when hiring someone, the reality is that a local person will have a much softer landing if things do not work out at your venture. This will minimize the disruption, should the person not work out.