Rural employment based on a broad mix of industry sectors contributes to the adaptive ability of regions. Research carried out in the rural localities of eight contrasting case study areas in Bulgaria, France, Hungary, Romania and the UK reviewed a number of non industry sector-specific factors that can influence rural employment potential. These can be grouped into two categories. Firstly, those that affect labour supply (via the workforce and labour market), and secondly, those that affect enterprise and economic dynamism. Notwithstanding the diversity of the case study areas, some general conclusions about the impacts of these factors on rural employment can be drawn. Commuting and migration flows are complex and are affected by a number of different driving forces, such as young people seeking education and training, people seeking jobs, and people (including retirees) seeking a better ‘quality of life’ in rural areas. Thus demographic trends can be both a consequence of (via out-migration owing to lack of jobs), or a driver of (via in-migrants constituting new markets) rural job and employment trends. The potential for job creation in rural areas is strongly influenced by the levels of entrepreneurship, innovation, skills, business support and training in the territory. Lower population densities can impede the delivery of education and skills training. As most European Union regions include both urban and rural localities, the implementation of a smart, sustainable and inclusive regional development strategy must include a specific ‘Rural Renaissance’ component if regional economic resilience is to be achieved.