Even though his players tease him for it, the coach of the University of Maine football team often likes to stress that it’s “a major Division I college program” during interviews and in team meetings.
That’s because the coach, Nick Charlton, wants to build pride and camaraderie among his players, many of whom were recruited to play for the Black Bears despite growing up in warmer southern states and having difficulty with the cold climate.
“You’ve got to sell what your product is,” Charlton said Thursday evening. “To be honest, Maine is a little more isolated than some other places, so we’re going to be with each other all the time. That’s a big selling point. It’s the relationships. It’s the people. It sounds corny, but it’s true.”
Those were among the lessons that emerged during an informal panel discussion on the subject of recruitment which was held at Sea Dog Brewing Co. in Bangor. Beside Charlton were three other people from different backgrounds who also have faced the challenges of recruiting people to fill Maine jobs from inside and outside the state.
Watch the full Bangor Daily Brews conversation here:
One of them also came from a sports background: Amy Vachon, the head coach of the University of Maine’s women’s basketball team. The others were Nettie Kilby, who works for Bangor Area Staffing Solutions, and Thomas Ellis, the chief human resources officer at the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor.
Together, they offered a variety of perspectives on how to sell the state to people from outside it, such as by emphasizing the light traffic, low crime rates and general laid-backness of the people who live here.
They also offered more strategic suggestions for workplaces and the policymakers who are considering how to help them.
For example, Kilby has noticed that many employers are “stuck in the way of thinking they can wait until they find the perfect candidate,” she said. In fact, employers who are struggling to fill openings should consider applicants who may not have all the necessary skills but show a willingness and ability to be trained.