Engage with Regional Talent Groups & Resources

Ann Arbor has always been a place rich with talent, and demand for that talent has only increased over the past few years as the number of job opportunities has increased. While this is a great indicator of the strength of Ann Arbor’s economy, it puts more pressure on recruiters and other human resources professionals to acquire the talent they need within their organizations. Ann Arbor SPARK can help alleviate that pressure.

Due to the increased demand for talent, local companies have had to become more connected, deliberate, and creative when recruiting for open positions. In partnership with the Greater Ann Arbor Society of Human Resource Management (GAASHRM) and Michigan Works! Southeast, Ann Arbor SPARK curated this high-level overview of some of the approaches, information, and resources related to talent acquisition. 

Explore SPARK Job Portal
  • Post your job openings on your own website and on multiple job boards to cast a wider net for qualified applicants. Consider advertising your job on all of the major job aggregators (i.e., Indeed, CareerBuilder, ZipRecruiter, etc.), but also look locally at posting your job openings with each institution of higher education, the job portal hosted by Ann Arbor SPARK, and the statewide labor exchange, the Pure Michigan Talent Connect, supported by Michigan Works! Southeast
    1. Be sure to use the latest and most salient industry terms when describing your open positions and also provide as many pertinent, yet concise, details as possible. 
    2. Consider the applicant’s experience when determining the application process (including the user interface on your website). Be sure to eliminate any unnecessary steps so as not to create barriers for interested applicants.   
    3. Share links to your job openings on your website and all social media outlets, including LinkedIn.
  • Think outside of the box. Consider creating a video that showcases your company and the culture within. Name a menu item at Zingerman’s after your company. Advertise on a local billboard. Host or appear as a guest on a local podcast to discuss the opportunities within your company. Seek out public speaking opportunities in the greater Ann Arbor area. Join GAASHRM and network with other HR professionals. Be creative — the sky is the limit. 
  • Leverage your network to circulate job openings and get referrals. Ask for referrals from the people you trust and know best – including your current employees. Consider incentivizing referrals for current staff members as a way to get the word out. Word-of-mouth is one of the most powerful tools you have at your disposal so don’t forget to use it when it comes to talent acquisition! 
  • Build relationships with the local K-12 school districts, vocational/technical programs, academic clubs, etc. Consider planting the seeds for your company with talent that is younger than you’d expect. This can pay off in the long run (and potentially help with awareness among parents). Many schools are very interested in engaging with businesses and are looking for industry partnerships that could get your brand, and more importantly, your job openings in front of new talent. 
    1. Ann Arbor Public Schools has developed Strategic Partnerships where a dedicated person works to find opportunities for businesses to engage with students at K-12 levels. 
    2. Some high schools have specific areas of focus that could overlap with your business needs. For example, the South and West Washtenaw Consortium (SWWC) provides Career and Technical Education (CTE) to students in a variety of programs. Locating and partnering with programs like this could help build a strong talent pipeline in the future. 
    3. High schools around the region participate in events like Manufacturing Day, which is when manufacturing companies host high school students in their facilities to showcase their operations and the vibrant career opportunities in the manufacturing industry. 
  • While unfortunate, mass layoff events experienced by other companies create opportunities to pick up experienced talent. The State of Michigan lists WARN notices that identify when companies are making large-scale workforce reductions. 
  • Connect with Michigan Works! Southeast. This can be a great way to find talent and gain access to a variety of training programs that are available for new hires, including: 
    1. The Going PRO Talent Fund (GPTF) creates jobs and new opportunities through competitive training grants for employers like you! Winners receive funds to hire talent and upskill current employees, with customized training solutions to meet the needs of your business.
    2. The Michigan New Jobs Training Program (MNJTP), which was designed as an economic development incentive, authorizes community colleges to create a training pool to support employers that are creating new jobs and/or expanding operations in Michigan.
    3. Incumbent Worker Training (IWT), On-the-Job Training (OJT), and soft skills training programs are also available to the business community through Michigan Works! Southeast. We recommend connecting with their business services team today to learn more. 
  • Open interview events are becoming more and more common, especially in manufacturing to reduce touch points and barriers between traditional talent attraction and hiring processes. These events bring talent right to your door for you to interview and potentially make offers of employment to – all in one day. 
  • Consider enrolling your HR and talent acquisition team members in programs like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Talent Pipeline Management (TPM) initiative. “The idea is that if employers play an expanded leadership role as “end-customers” of a talent supply chain, they will be more effective at organizing performance-driven partnerships with responsive preferred education and workforce training providers.”
  • Build relationships with local institutions of higher education and be present on campus.


The SPARK Talent Portal: A free online job posting system that spotlights executive and knowledge-based positions as well as internships and entry-level positions. Check out the portal.

Talent Search and Recruitment Experts: Local recruiters can help you connect with top, specialized talent. Check out a list of regional recruitment professionals.

Training Grants: SPARK will work closely with you to maximize the utilization of worker training programs and funds that are available for companies in our region. Learn more about the programs.

Talent Grants: SPARK offers grants to engage interns and executive-level talent for startups headquartered in Ann Arbor

Academic Relationships: There are great business “front door” organizations like the University of Michigan’s Office of Corporate Relations or Eastern Michigan University’s Engage@EMU programs. Be sure to check in with Washtenaw Community College, Michigan Tech, Kettering, and Michigan State University. Make the most of your Handshake profile, as most colleges use it for recruiting and events. Read more about building these relationships.

Ann Arbor Tech Homecoming: In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, SPARK hosts a casual evening with job seekers and companies as they mingle over delicious food and great conversation. This is an opportunity for local and out-of-town talent to learn about careers in the vibrant Ann Arbor tech ecosystem.

University of Michigan Startup Career Fair: This annual event connects 750+ entrepreneurially-minded students in all majors to internships and full-time opportunities at 45+ high-growth startups from across the country.

tech[inclusive]: A non-profit organization dedicated to empowering underrepresented people in tech, and empowering allies to become advocates.

Eastern Michigan University Digital Divas: Eastern Michigan University’s College of Technology hosts a yearly conference that connects young women in middle and high school to opportunities in STEM.

Pricing Talent: SPARK can do a review using PayScale to determine wage data in specific job categories. We recommend continuously benchmarking and adjusting pay structures and benefits (when necessary). Pricing can vary depending on skill set, experience, and other factors.