HR-ology: Reasonable Recruiting Area

Reprinted with permission from the Management Association of Illinois’s Web site, The article was posted on July 1, 2008.

Reasonable recruiting area is a term used in written affirmative action programs (AAPs), which are required of federal contractors and subcontractors with 50 or more employees and $50,000 or more in contracts.

Part of an AAP involves using data from the U.S. Census Bureau to determine the number of minorities and females with the skills required for a position in any given area. This data is collected during the 10-year census and will next be updated in 2010. The Census Bureau collects race and gender data based on Census Occupation Codes (for instance, tool and die makers, nurses, accountants) in each county of each state, and then aggregates the figures into county, state and national breakdowns, with special combinations for major metropolitan areas.

When a contractor completes an AAP, it determines Reasonable Recruiting Areas for its organization based on locations from which employees are recruited. These areas may be different for different jobs. For instance, administrative support positions would probably come from a local geographic area; managers might come from the United States. Using its Reasonable Recruiting Area and the Census Bureau statistics for that area, an organization can determine whether its minority and female representation meets what would reasonably be expected based on the data.