Chapter Corner

State of the Labor Shortage and 7 Recruiting Actions for Today

Posted in: Features, January/February 2017

It is the unpleasant reality that skilled labor is in short supply, with 300,000¹ Boomers retiring², lack of CTE education³, negative perceptions about blue collar work⁴, college track pressure⁵, and historic economic dips⁶ contributing to the shortage. These factors, combined with a projected industry growth of 14% over the next 10 years⁷, indicate that the challenge to find skilled workers is not going away anytime soon⁸.

Contractors, associations (such as IEC⁹ & AGC¹⁰), programs like mikeroweWORKS¹¹, and individuals like Kevin Fleming¹² are all contributing to long-term solution strategies by promoting the skilled trades as a high-value career option. “As electricians, we offer a great Employee Value Proposition: No college debt, a true earn-and-learn 4-year training program that leads to a great job market with great pay and entry into the workforce with above entry-level marketable skills,” shared Spenser Villwock, CEO of IEC. Many contractors grow their own employees by networking and inviting individuals to build a trades career within their company. “Find someone who is mechanically inclined and they can become useful pretty quickly,” said Gary Golka, president of Golka Electric, Inc., National Secretary of IEC, and former Chairman of IEC’s Apprenticeship and Training Committee, in a recent interview. Going forward into 2017, Bruce Seilhammer, group manager at SECCO, Inc., and IEC’s current President, encourages contractors to “get involved sooner in the educational process. Get to folks at the high school level and let them know there is a great living to be made where they can use their heads and hands. This issue isn’t going away soon; be proactive.”

With no quick-fix materializing, the frustration around recruiting skilled workers is likely to continue as contractors are forced to turn away project opportunities to maintain their standard of customer service. Long-term strategic efforts are vital to diminishing the labor shortage for the future, but what can a contractor do today to attract skilled workers to their company?

Here are 7 online marketing tactics to consider integrating into your overall recruiting strategy:

1. Define Your Ideal Employee: Get clear on your ideal hire.

Ask yourself: If you could have 10 new employees, but they all had to be a clone of 1 of your existing employees, who would you choose? The best way to find that employee is to identify who is the most profitable, a joy to work with, refers your company to potential new employees, and who you would genuinely like to have more of. When you can name who it is you want on your team, you can identify what would attract them to work for your company. See the Resources link in the byline for more details. Once you have identified this Ideal Employee, ask, “What is important to them in an employer?” or “What part of my Employee Value Proposition would most appeal to this candidate?”

According to an MRI Network survey, an overwhelming 90% of recruiters say the market is becoming increasingly candidate-driven¹³. Use this to your advantage and develop language in your advertisements that speaks directly to the desires of your Ideal Employee, encouraging them to open an employment conversation with you. Action: Revisit your Employee Value Proposition from the eyes of your Ideal Employee.

2. Optimize Your Website: Let it recruit for you.

Visit your website and read the pages related to employment with your company. Review the pages as if you were your Ideal Employee. Imagine that this page had been built specifically for you. Does the language resonate with you? Are the images/videos engaging to look at? Is the information relevant and interesting? Your recruiting page should be designed for your Ideal Employee and no one else. This is usually difficult to execute because we are afraid of potentially losing other possible recruits. However, if we have identified who our Ideal Employee is, doesn’t it make sense to focus solely on attracting more of them? If you have identified multiple Ideal Employee personas to recruit, consider having a separate relevant webpage for each of them. Lastly, is your site mobile-friendly¹⁴? A Glassdoor survey found that “45% of job seekers say they use their mobile device specifically to search for jobs at least once a day¹⁵.” Action: Create a list of edits for your employment pages. 

3. Audit Your Online Footprint: Be consistent. 

According to the Pew Research Center, a majority of adults in the US have looked online for information about jobs, and 45% have applied for a position online¹⁶. Take 5 minutes and list all of the places your company is found online, such as your company website, social media pages, and job boards. Does the language on these pages properly and consistently represent not only your company brand but also appeal to your Ideal Employee where appropriate? Action: List potential edits.

4. Optimize for Conversion: Maximize return on your efforts with conversion tools.

What is a conversion tool? Anything that encourages your website visitor to take the action you desire them to make. In recruiting, this means clear, convenient call-to-actions that make it easy to open an employment conversation with your company. By taking action, candidates can pre-qualify and prioritize themselves for your recruiters based on what information they share and how they choose to interact. For instance, a visitor who opts-in to receive automated email announcements of job opportunities most likely has a different priority level than one who opts-in by sharing multiple contact and resume details to secure a hiring bonus. Action: Consider adding conversion tools, such as social media links, employee testimonials, click-to-call, opt-ins, or multimedia targeted to encourage your ideal employee candidate to take action on your careers pages.

5. Utilize Social Proof17: You will be Googled.

A survey in January 2016 found that “61% of Glassdoor users report that they seek company reviews and ratings before making a decision to apply for a job¹⁸.” Consider asking your current ideal employees to post reviews on Facebook, LinkedIn, your company website, and other places where your company has a web presence. More than 80% of online survey global respondents report that they trust recommendations by friends and family¹⁹. Given that 76% of all American Internet users also utilize social media²⁰, this can be a way to meet the needs of your web-searching candidates. Do you have existing online reviews? See more in the Resources section of the byline. Action: Identify where and how you want reviews posted, create your guidelines for responding to reviews, and ask current ideal employees to review your company.

6. Develop Conversion Paths: Automate engaging and nurturing candidates.

Did you know that – according to a Gallup Panel Web study – 51% of employees are considering a new job²²? Think about creating unique conversion-optimized paths for passive candidate website visitors as well as active job-seekers. For example, a visitor clicks to learn more about an apprenticeship but isn’t ready to apply. Have an option for them to easily continue the conversation, like an opt-in to receive more information via email (be sure to follow anti-spam guidelines). Automate delivery of that contact to your recruiter and launch an email sequence to nurture and educate them on your awesome employment offer. Keep the conversation flowing from the candidate’s perspective. Action: Identify where passive candidate paths could be integrated into your recruiting strategy to convert your ideal employee to an active job-seeker for a position with your company.

7. Integrate Outreaches: Increase ROI
Maximize ROI by integrating your conversion-optimized online footprint into recruiting outreaches. For example, for job-fairs: Create and display a QR code that links to your relevant webpage, have a tablet open to your webpage offering an opt-in to receive job announcements via email (connect an automated email follow-up series), or simply hand out business cards with links corresponding to the appropriate webpage for the card recipient. Or, send an email, including appropriate links, to current employees with a bonus offer for them and their referral when the referral is hired. Note the consistent theme of relevance and specificity to the candidate!


1. National Public Radio, “Economists Say Millennials Should Consider Careers In Trades,” All Things Considered, February 2, 2015, podcast,

2. Joshua Wright, “America’s Skilled Trades Dilemma: Shortages Loom As Most-In- Demand Group Of Workers Ages,” Forbes, March 7, 2013, emsi/2013/03/07/americas-skilled-trades-dilemma-shortages-loom-as-most-in-demand-group-of-workers-ages/#2f4474614545

3. Kevin Fleming, “Success in the New Economy,” video,

4. Kevin G. Hal, “Needed now and in the next decade: Electricians, roofers, plumbers,” McClatchy DC, September 2, 2016, http:// world/national/article99328727.html

5. AGC of America, “Preparing the Next Generation of Skilled Construction Workers: Workforce Development Plan,” https://www.agc. org/sites/default/files/Files/Communications/ Workforce%20Development%20Plan.pdf

6. Kim Slowey, “A new twist in the labor shortage: Are infrastructure firms seeking more work than workers?,” Construction Dive, December 1 2016,

7. Kevin G. Hall, “Needed now and in the next decade: Electricians, roofers, plumbers,” McClatchy DC, September 2, 2016. http:// world/national/article99328727.html

8. Heidi Schwartz, “U.S. Employers Suffer Largest Talent Shortage In Skilled Trades,” Facility Executive, May 20, 2015,

9. Independent Electrical Contractors,

10. The Associated General Contractors of America,

11. Mike Rowe Works Foundation,

12. Telos Educational Services,

13. MRI Network, Recruiter Sentiment Study 2015 2nd Half, 2015, http://www. recruiter_sentiment_study_2nd_half.pdf

14. Andre Lavoie, “4 Ways to Cater to the Mobile Job Seeker,” Entrepreneur, March 24, 2015,

15. MRI Network, Recruiter Sentiment Study 2015 2nd Half, 2015, http://www. recruiter_sentiment_study_2nd_half.pdf

16. Aaron Smith, “Searching for Work in the Digital Era,” Pew Research Center, November 19, 2015,

17.“Social proof,” wiki/Social_proof, accessed December 2016

18. Glassdoor, “Top HR Statistics,”

19. Andrew McCaskill, “Recommendations From Friends Remain Most Credible Form of Advertising Among Consumers; Branded Websites Are The Second-Highest-Rated Form,” Nielsen Global Trust, September 28, 2015, press-room/2015/recommendations-from-friends-remain-most-credible-form-of-advertising.html

20. Shannon Greenwood, Andrew Perrin, and Maeve Duggan, “Social Media Update 2016,” Pew Research Center, November 11, 2016,

21.“Social proof,” wiki/Social_proof, accessed December 2016

22. Annamarie Mann and Becky McCarville, “What Job Hopping Employees Are Looking For,” Gallup, November 13, 2015, http:// job-hopping-employees-looking.aspx?g_ source=EMPLOYEE_ENGAGEMENT&g_ medium=topic&g_campaign=tiles

Supplemental Resources are available at Have more questions? Book a quick chat to get answers; just mention IEC when booking through the Resources link. Dainella applies her toolset of online marketing tactics to automate delivery of skilled tradesworker candidate leads to contractors. Her positive experiences as a journeyman electrician also drive her keen interest in promoting the skilled trades as a career option.