According to the Vermont Department of Labor, the state unemployment rate sits at about 4 percent (February, 2014). Here in Brattleboro, we seem to be right in line at 3.8 percent. With a work force of just over 23,000 people, that leaves very few unemployed. A good story for our area, especially when compared to places like Swanton, Bradford and Newport, all creeping over the 5 percent mark. Of course, Vermont enjoys a rate lower than the national average of 6.7 percent, down from a high of 9.8 percent in 2010.
There's another side to this story that isn't often told. With only 900 people unemployed in Brattleboro, the labor pool leaves many companies struggling to find talent. I speak from experience as publisher at the Brattleboro Reformer. Here in Brattleboro, we employ a team of people who generate content for consumption by our print and digital audiences, and we offer multi-platform advertising solutions to help our customers grow their businesses. That also requires a small staff of support personnel in production and distribution.
On the advertising side, the requirements of the job have changed quite a bit during the last three years. Traditional newspaper ad reps, as we once titled them, are obsolete. It's not good enough to be able to sell space in the daily newspaper to be successful. Instead, we commit to our advertisers that we will provide a multi-media consultant to assist with their entire marketing plan. Effective consultants understand 21st century technology, including web, mobile, social and e-mail. The terms SEO and SEM are common to them. Did I mention that a higher than average energy level is required?
Successful candidates have often come to us from other media outlets; Some have come to us with no media experience but an ability to learn quickly. We do provide full training on our product portfolio, but we do expect that folks will come to us with a very strong sales and customer service background. You'll notice that I said sales and customer service, not or. It's imperative that people have a thorough understanding of the selling process before they join us. Once they complete our orientation, they should be able to begin the selling cycle.
Here are some elements of a recruitment campaign that we are currently running:
... proven track record ... ability to meet and exceed quotas ... ability to prospect, present and close ... local solutions available through our newspaper titles as well as national ad exchange network ....
The headline for that ad aims to grab attention: ONLY SUPERSTARS NEED APPLY.
Where are the superstars in greater Brattleboro? I know people are out there. Our challenge is to change the perception that the Reformer is just a newspaper. We have evolved into a 24 hour news-gathering and sharing operation and a resource for advertisers near and far to be in front of that vast audience. Our audience has exploded in the digital age, in spite of small print declines. People read us throughout the day, often starting in print at home in the morning, then staying with us all day through Reformer.com and social media updates. We certainly have a smaller local staff than we once did, but the energy and enthusiasm in our office has never been higher. I had a friend years ago who worked for a leading bicycle manufacturer and loved his job. He worked in a hip and cool place. I've seen the Reformer and our other media outlets transform into that same hip and cool place to work. We have the folks at Digital First Media to thank for some of that, not to mention Reformer Editor Tom D'Errico and Ad Manager Jordan Brechenser. These guys are passionate about their work and it shows.
I'd love to hear from some of the other business leaders in our community. Do others share in my concern in hiring a quality work force? Are there folks out there reading this who meet the criteria and want to talk about a career with us? I can be reached via e-mail -- firstname.lastname@example.org -- and my direct phone number is 802-779-7873.
Edward L. Woods is the publisher of the Brattleboro Reformer and regional vice president Digital First Media.