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Heidrick & Struggles Survey Reveals Talent Relocation Trend
Best and Worst U.S. Cities for Attracting Top Talent

CHICAGO, July 23, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Heidrick & Struggles International, Inc. (Nasdaq:HSII), the leadership advisory firm providing executive search and leadership consulting services worldwide, conducted a trend survey polling more than 50 of our U.S. search consultants to better understand the most and least desirable cities attracting executive talent today. Consultants were polled in 2010 and 2012 with each set of results consistent.

The participating consultants have an average of fifteen years of search experience and represent a cross section of industry and functional practices across the U.S. Each speaks with several hundred candidates annually with regular discussions about location preferences. We reviewed and compiled demographic information with regard to cost of living, diversity, business infrastructure, population, weather and transportation.

In addition, we also asked about three specific regions where many companies have moved – the South, Southeast and the Mountain West.

The Winners, and…

We found that four cities have all of the qualities necessary to make them attractive both from a professional standpoint as well as quality of life. The "best in class" to recruit top talent include:

    Atlanta is perceived as the city where it is easiest to recruit people to - with 70 percent of the vote due to its strong business infrastructure, affordability and quality of life.
    Chicago also was viewed as a highly recruitable city with a strong culture, ethnic diversity, moderate cost of living and public transportation.
    Denver is attractive for the active adult and outdoor lifestyle.
    Dallas has several Fortune 500 companies and affordable living.

"These are significant metropolitan areas that balance urban life and a high quality of life. They are real business centers with a meaningful business and demographic diversity which is making them very attractive to top talent," said Rusty O'Kelley, Managing Partner, Leadership Consulting for the Americas at Heidrick & Struggles. "Not only are these four cities popular in the U.S., they are also garnering international attention when it comes to attracting the best talent globally."

"Atlanta has it all, it is an incredible city with a vibrant business community. Today, more than ever before, people are weighing all aspects of their lives when considering a job change. The city they choose to live in has to fit their personal lifestyle too. The quality of life and their surroundings in a potential new city is a large consideration," added Laura Brinsmaid, Principal in Charge, Atlanta and member of the Global Consumer Markets Practice at Heidrick & Struggles.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, companies that are based in slower-growth or shrinking cities more commonly face relocation issues and thus, a talent drain, such as Detroit or cities in the Southern states of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. Explosive-growth cities occasionally face some concerns about location. New York City and San Francisco are both considered easy and difficult to recruit to by our consultants depending on the industry but cost of living is a barrier to many candidates.

"For companies, this study provides general insights and trends on how attractive their location is perceived in the market as well as setting and managing expectations for how quickly we will be able to attract the right talent to their business," said Maribel Langer, Associate Principal Leadership Consulting, Heidrick & Struggles. "Will we need to contact 20 or 200+ prospective candidates? The desirability of location directly affects the amount of time, cost and effort needed to recruit top leadership talent."

Additional Insights on Recruitability in the U.S.

While recruiting challenges can vary from city-to-city, many factors are similar across geography and industry, especially over the last decade when the business climate changed dramatically globally.

"You can't run a successful long term business without the right talent in place regardless of what city you are based – from C-level leadership to entry-level positions," said O'Kelley.

Here are some additional insights and key issues we learned as a result of our trend research:

    Talent is Slower to Relocate: Relocation is more difficult today than ten years ago. Reasons include: the instability of the job market; decline of housing market and underwater mortgages/real estate; less willingness to uproot family; and finally, desire to re-establish professional network.
    Compelling Relo Packages are Rare: Existence of strong relocation packages are important in today's environment, but packages are "not what they used to be" (i.e., many companies no longer offer buy/sell financial assistance).
    Commuter Options: Companies are increasingly more amenable to commuting arrangements.
    Family Consideration: Early involvement of family in relocation consideration is critical. The biggest relocation challenge is often the spouse or partner, especially when they have professional careers to consider.
    Double Down: A future opportunity has to be exceptional and 2X better with both near and long term consideration; greater earning potential is not in itself a top priority.

For more survey information including detailed information on the top cities, key issues candidates consider when relocating and cities viewed as least attractive to recruit candidates, please contact Lia Randazzo,

About Heidrick & Struggles International, Inc.

Heidrick & Struggles International, Inc., (Nasdaq:HSII) is the leadership advisory firm providing senior-level executive search and leadership consulting services, including succession planning, executive assessment and development, talent retention management, transition consulting for newly appointed executives, and M&A human capital integration consulting. For almost 60 years, we have focused on quality service and built strong leadership teams through our relationships with clients and individuals worldwide. Today, Heidrick & Struggles' leadership experts operate from principal business centers in North America, Latin America, Europe, and Asia Pacific. For more information about Heidrick & Struggles, please visit

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