Chapter Corner

Build a Proactive Plan to Find Good Help!

Posted in: Features, September/October 2017

I am tired of hearing contractors say they can’t find any good or trained help. When all they do is complain about their problems, they’ve decided to be negative and not develop positive solutions to their problems. I get calls and emails all the time from contractors asking how to find help. When people don’t apply, you can’t hire them. And when you don’t take out a help wanted ad, they won’t apply. And “yes,” it costs money and a proactive plan to recruit good people to work for your company!
First, you must admit and realize there aren’t any readily available professional, competent trained field trade workers, foremen, superintendents, project managers, or estimators sitting in front of your office begging for you to hire them! Second, if you aren’t being proactive about finding people and keeping your pipeline full of potential candidates to hire, then you’ll never find anyone to hire. Third, if you don’t have someone in your company accountable to continuously seek and find applicants to apply and interview, you’ll never have enough people. Fourth, if you don’toffer great pay and a fringe and benefit package, then potential employees won’t work for your company. Fifth, if you don’t place an ad, people won’t know you need people or apply for work.
To attract and retain good people, you must decide to be proactive about implementing a program to find and keep great people to work for your company. To get your copy of my Org Chart & People Plan, email Attracting and keeping people is a result of building a great place to work where good people want to work for your company. They are empowered,have a future, feel part of a team, trained, inspired, recognized, praised, thanked, participate in decisions, and encouraged to perform at a higher level.

1. Assign a hiring director: 
Put someone in charge of attracting people to apply for current or future positions at your company. This “hiring director” is accountable to manage, monitor, encourage, and keep applicants applying; then ranking, sorting them, and setting interviews with key managers or field team leaders to interview and hire. Assign this part-time responsibility to an administrator, project assistant, engineer, or human resource manager. Give them the task and goal to keep your people pipeline full of applicants for your immediate needs and people on the bench for when you need them. Give them a budget for ads, website pages, brochures, and incentives to attract people to apply for jobs on an ongoing monthly basis.
2. Offer hiring incentives:
Provide referral incentives to employees to encourage them to refer candidates to apply for work at your company. The best people often come from referrals from employees. Most people have relatives, friends, or friends of friends they know who have the same values and work ethic as they do and would likely do well at your company. Put incentives in place to motivate employees to recruit others to apply for jobs and join your company. The minimum referral incentive bonus that works well is a minimum of $250 to $500, depending on the position someone applied for. You can also consider offering a hiring referral reward to suppliers and subcontractors you ask for help filling your company positions.
3. Offer a hiring bonus:
Offer a signing bonus or special perk to new employees who last at least 3 months. The same applies to new hires who last at least 3 months with your company.
4. Offer great pay packages:
To compete for good people, you must offer more pay, benefits, education, perks, and extras than your competition and what is available in your marketplace. Remember, you’re also competing with full-time job opportunities at major companies, utilities, and the government, who offer reasonable pay for a guaranteed forty hours per week plus a full package of benefits, including retirement, sick pay, family health insurance, stock options, vacation, and other perks. In a tight hiring market, you have to offer the right total pay package and top benefits to attract good people to come to work for you. I often hear contractors who don’t offer health insurance, vacation pay, holiday pay, or full-time work, continue to have a hard time getting new people to take a job with them.
5. Develop a hiring webpage:
Add a “We Want You” hiring page on your website that explains why your company is a great place to work and how well you treat your employees as family and teammates. Have testimonials and pictures of your team smiling and working together. Talk about the benefits you offer, your training program, and brag about how long your people stay with your company. Post a simple, easily downloadable application on the page, as well. Also, put the webpage address on all of your job signs and in your hiring ads.
6. Make it easy to apply for a job:
Have a “Now Hiring” sign or sticker posted on your office, trucks, and job signs. Include the direct phone number to the hiring director and your hiring webpage link. Have regular interview times at the same time every week or month. Give everyone in your company “Now Hiring” business cards to hand out with the phone number to call and your regular interview times shown.
7. Always be looking:
Run hiring ads every month looking for positions you currently need filled and might require in the future. The goal is to fill the empty slots now plus develop a list of potential hires ready to join your company when needed. Too many contractors don’t have enough crew leaders, foreman, or superintendents. They try to only have barely what they need to allow for growth, emergencies, accelerated schedules, or new project opportunities that might come up quickly. It is a best practice to always have an extra foreman, superintendent, upcoming leader, and crew ready to fill a need at any time.
8. Offer summer intern jobs for high school students:
Often, the best employees are those who work part time for your company during the summer months and now are in need of a full time job opportunity. Create a program where interns can move around and do fill-in work for different crews, estimators, mechanics, and project managers. Let them assist and learn about your company and the future opportunities available.
9. Hold career days at your shop or yard:
Start relationships with your local high school and vocational school teachers and counselors. Develop a program to get young people out to your company to see what you do and how they can build a career as electrical and systems professionals. By being proactive, you can find and attract good people to work for your company. Follow and implement these proven ideas and I guarantee your company will not have a people shortage problem in the future.
George Hedley, CSP, CPBC, is a certified professional construction BIZCOACH and popular industry speaker. He helps contractors grow, make more profit, build management teams, improve field productivity, and get their businesses to work for them. He is the best-selling author of “Get Your Construction Business To Always Make A Profit!” available on E-mail to sign-up for his free e-newsletter, start a personalized BIZCOACH program, attend a 2 day BIZ-BUILDER Boot Camp, or get a discount at online university for contractors. Visit for more information.