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Rant: Thoughts On Rebranding And Attracting Workers To Minnesota

Paul DeBettignies as The Hulk, Minnesota Recruiter, Minnesota Headhunter

(It’s been a long time since I had a good rant and used the Hulk photo)

A couple of news items this week have me thinking.

Thinking has turned into some frustration.

Frustration has turned into this rant.

Later today I will send an email to a bunch of folks and point them back to this and ask them what they think.

Before every rant I have a disclaimer so that it sets a tone. For this post:

I stand up and applaud when I hear folks talking about promoting Minnesota. I think we need to do more of this. All of my presentations for about a year talk about how I (and almost all of who live here) suffer from a Minnesota nice and passive aggressive affliction called, “I don’t like to promote myself.”

So that folks want to talk about (re)branding Minnesota and want to attract workers to Minnesota I am all for it.

Here is what I don’t understand…

Has anyone sat down with a group of Minnesota Recruiter or HR professionals and asked them what the barriers are to recruiting folks to Minnesota?

Has anyone asked a group like that about their marketing, PR and social media campaigns?

Asked about successes and failures?

Not just a survey… actually had a conversation?

Specifically… has anyone asked Target how they are recruiting for their digital engineers, Code42 for their expansion, Arcserve as they move their HQ’s here or any Minnesota startup that is recruiting across the country?

Here is the first article that jacked up my blood pressure:

Does Minnesota's region have an identity crisis?

My immediate answer seeing the headline was… YES!!!

Are we, do we live and work in Minnesota, Minneapolis - St Paul, Twin Cities, Midwest, MSP, Upper Midwest?

In the tech space I frequently hear an attempt at “Silicon Prairie”

One of the ideas in the article that apparently has popularity is “North”.

No way… no freaking way. I am sure Minnesota folks may embrace it, frankly I kind of like it. But I am already here. No way would I want to recruit someone to the “North”.

It sounds cold.

It sounds not diverse.

It sounds far away.

It sounds like Canada. Side note, if we are “North” then what the heck is Canada? “Upper North” or “Really Freaking North”?

We are already (in)famous for our winters. What’s the one shot Monday Night Football always gets? A frozen lake or river shot that looks freaking cold. When is the Weather Channel here? Not on those amazing clear blue 80F degree days in June… they are here when we have a foot of snow and/or a Polar Vortex over our head.

I am all about branding Minnesota as a place to live and work but embracing what many/most folks see as a negative seems silly.

I find myself saying Minneapolis (St Paul please do not be offended) and Upper Midwest. Minneapolis because people know where it is and Upper Midwest because I can talk about a lifestyle.

The second item that tweaked me a bit is this:

Greater MSP steps up efforts to build region’s talent pool

I don’t disagree with any of the statistics cited.

I agree that recruiting and retention in Minnesota is an issue.

I think doing a road show is a great idea. I do hope it is not just targeted at college campuses. Why not actively recruit 30 something’s in San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Seattle, Boston, etc? Those who want to own a home, start a family and enjoy our quality of life?

I am not a fan of “Make It MSP”.


Does anyone outside of our immediate region know that MSP stands for Minneapolis and St Paul? Yes I understand that would be part of the message but… golly gee whiz (is that Minnesotan enough?) why do we make this so hard on ourselves.

If the folks at the event tonight have it their way we will have to change it to “Make It North”.

Seems to me if the goal is to brand Minnesota, Minneapolis - St Paul, Twin Cities, Midwest, MSP, Upper Midwest, North, etc. as a worker friendly place to be we should probably include some folks who… actually recruit.

Minnesota is home to a number of respected Recruiter and HR groups. We have national speakers who live here. We have companies, search firms, Recruiter and HR professionals who are right now running recruiting, marketing and PR campaigns in other parts of the country to bring folks to Minnesota.

We should be asking them what they think.

We should be asking what works and what does not.

I mean… they are the ones doing the recruiting.


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Jason Kolles

The immediate points of hesitation for my candidates include; 1) The weather 2) The weather 3) Cost of living (property taxes, income tax, metro home prices, etc) 4) Have never visited before. Closest they've come is Chicago 5) Negative perceptions like "Fargo" and a lack of overall diversity

Overall, it is an issue of awareness, or lack there of. I spend a lot of time on the front end talking about our culture, schools, change of seasons, theaters, music, restaurant scene, geographical diversity (Lutsen vs. Minneapolis vs. Worthington), and tremendous business climate in terms of Fortune 500 players.

Patti Yaritz

I think Minnesota Boulevard used to address some of these issues. I don't see much activity the last couple years. But they worked together to brand MN at Diversity Recruiting Events like the NBMBAA

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