6 Tips to Go From 'Help Wanted' to 'Help Found'

You don’t need to see the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to know that our industry is suffering from a severe skilled-worker shortage. The Trades have been hanging the proverbial “Help Wanted” sign for years as qualified applicants have remained elusive.

Because we’re short-staffed, we’re extra busy. We don’t have time to do the hard work of attracting top talent. So, we turn to ZipRecruiter and Indeed, which deliver tons of applications but few serious prospects. We end up hiring people outside of our network who may or may not work out. Around and around we go. Sound familiar?

If you’re tired of the turnover, you need to reconsider your approach to hiring.

6 Ways to Recruit Quality Help Faster

1. Network, Network, Network

Online job boards are convenient but if you really want to find good local candidates, consider establishing community relationships with these untapped talent pools:

High schools: There’s an old quote that goes something like, “When is the best time to plant a 30-year-old oak tree? Thirty years ago. When is the second-best time? Today!” As leaders in our fields, we need to do a better job presenting the trades as a viable alternative to expensive four-year universities. Too many high schoolers are utterly unaware of the lucrative career opportunities in our fields. Consider this: The average annual salary for recent college graduates is $50,000 (likely doing a job unrelated to their degree). While an entry-level position in the skilled trades pays somewhere around $12-15 an hour, they can double their income by becoming a licensed journeyman plumber within a couple of years. That means they’ll be making about as much as their college-bound peers (if not more) without absorbing mountains of student debt. From there, the sky’s the limit!

We need to plant the seed when they start exploring career paths. Here’s how:

  • Participate in job fairs and career days: Instead of handing out boring brochures, let’s give them hands-on experience with the cool technology we use. See if you can arrange a demonstration showing how plumbers use pipe cameras to find leaks and clogs. Or let them see how diagnostic equipment works on the school’s HVAC system.
  • Sponsor an athletics program: It familiarizes students with your company as a potential employer, and it’s pretty effective advertising.
  • Offer scholarships to trade schools: Technical schools supply our industries with the talent we so desperately need, so let’s return the favor and help supply these schools with students. Offering scholarships will inspire students to consider trade schools as an enticing alternative to a four-year university.

Technical schools: You can’t expect trade school graduates to come knocking. In this competitive environment, you need to be proactive. Sit on the board of advisors, network with instructors, and participate in job fairs so you can identify talent before your competitors.

Church: Anyone can be trained, but not everyone will share your values. A good work ethic and a great attitude go a long way. If you hear about a fellow congregant who’s looking for work, they may be a good cultural fit with your company. If that person doesn’t have the technical aptitude, he or she may be a rockstar marketer, CSR, or human resources manager.

Veterans organizations: Veterans seeking post-service careers are adaptable, dependable, and equipped with many skills transferable to the trades. There are countless organizations, such as Hire Our Heroes, dedicated to matching employers with qualified veterans.

2. Develop a Robust Apprenticeship Program

Because finding experienced workers is becoming increasingly difficult, many of us need to train people from the ground up. An apprenticeship program might include a full-time instructor and a dedicated training facility. It’s obviously a big investment but giving people the opportunity to learn on the job under the guidance of an experienced journeyman is a great way to foster your own talent. The trick, however, is to incentivize them to stay the course. Upon graduating from apprenticeship to journeyman, technicians need to have a roadmap for success. That means they know exactly what they need to achieve for the next pay increase and promotion. For example, if they want to grow into a leadership role, you need to show them what it takes to get there.

3. Utilize Your Employees as Recruiters

An employee referral program can be an effective way to bring in talent, and it’s fairly straightforward: If an employee’s referral is hired, he or she gets a bonus. (You can consider certain stipulations. For example, the referrer doesn’t receive the bonus until the new hire is employed for 90 days.) What’s great about this approach is that it’s an organic channel to reach candidates who already have a connection with the company. Plus, referred employees tend to have higher retention rates.

4. Streamline Your Hiring Process

The old expression “hire slow and fire fast” still holds. However, if you’re losing quality candidates to your competition before your next round of interviews, you might want to reevaluate your hiring process. Are you making candidates jump through too many hoops? Can you outsource background checks to a third party? Is your job description on-point and reaching the right people?

5. Take Advantage of Social Media

Who isn’t on social media these days? If you aren’t already, it is time to take advantage of some of the many benefits of social media, including the ability to recruit new team members at the click of a button. Your social media should be focused 50% on recruiting new hires and 50% on adding value and entertaining your new and existing customers. Always be sure to remind your followers that you are looking to hire in addition to creating posts about company growth, culture, events, training sessions, and job benefits. Even if your followers aren’t looking for a job at the moment, a strong social media presence ensures they will think of your company when they are ready for a change.

6. Make Recruiting a Full-Time Job

If recruiting sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it is. If you can’t hire as fast as your business is growing, consider investing more in your recruiting process. That could mean bringing a full-time recruiter on board to do all the networking, advertising, and interviewing. It’d be a tremendous resource, one that would take the brakes off of your company’s growth.

Dan Dowdy is a John Maxwell-Certified Leadership Coach, Business Owner and a second-generation Master Plumber. As the founder of Built For The Trades, he helps home service businesses like yours reach new heights through industry-specific training andpeer-to-peer mentoring groups.