Hiring Great Employees in a Labor Shortage: Tips for Home Service Companies
Do you struggle to hire skilled labor for your home service company? The current labor shortage has made this problem harder than ever before. The lack of skilled tradespeople impacts the construction industry and all home services, and makes growing a business hard.
In this blog post we’ll discuss where to find a new pool of candidates, how you can identify if they’re a good fit for your company, and how to retain great employees in this environment of scarcity.
The Labor Shortage Overview
The current labor shortage has been building for a while. There are a few reasons why it exists.
The big decline started when the baby boomer generation began retiring. These older, skilled workers were replaced by a younger generation of workers.
Unfortunately, few young people are interested in the trades. The average age of a tradesperson is 46 years old. That’s 10% higher than other industries! This means there’s little potential talent coming into the market, creating a long-term problem for companies like yours that rely on contractors and trade professionals.
Not to mention, people in the trades tend to retire sooner because of how physically demanding these careers can be.
And finally, there’s the impact of Covid-19 on the job market. You would think people would be interested in getting back to work and earning a paycheck...but that isn’t reflected in the latest jobs report.
The good news is you can still find skilled labor. You just need to know where they are and how to connect with them.
Be Sought After
When you're hurting for labor, you don't want to be in a position of begging for labor. Instead, position yourself as a business that applicants seek out. In order to do this, you need to consider important questions like:
Does your company have a good reputation?
Is your brand a household name in your local area?
Do you have a presence online?
Do you have a website that’s easy to find and navigate?
Does your site have a careers tab for people to apply directly?
There are so many home service companies competing for attention. If you want applicants to find you, you have to be visible and recognizable.
It’s crucial that you have a magnetic brand.
Branding and marketing play a big role in both customer acquisition and employee acquisition.
Promote your brand consistently in all your marketing efforts. A brand with a distinct identity will attract the right kind of potential employees.
If you want to hire professionals, your company needs to appear professional.
Your company’s name and logo should be easily recognized by your target audience in social media posts, emails or text messages as well as on websites, business cards and advertising materials.
And your brand is more than just a logo. It encompasses your values, goals, and personality.
The more people who know you exist (and why), the more likely they are to take a chance with you when looking for work.
Create marketing campaigns that show who you are and what sets your brand apart from others (more on this shortly).
Your best qualities need to come across in order to really stand out against other home services companies vying for attention!
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Use Social Media
Recruiters who only focus their attention on traditional job boards are missing out on so much talent!
Social media can be leveraged since it offers the ability to target specific demographics while being cost-effective at the same time. Plus it’s way underutilized by employers in the home services.
A great place to start is on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the place to go for professionals, and skilled workers are no exception.
You can set up a custom search by location and skill in order to find contractors that meet your needs perfectly. You can also use hashtags to search locally, by skill, or by trade.
Instead of posting a job description on Indeed and waiting for applicants, find people you’re interested in on LinkedIn and make a connection. Reach out with a quick message introducing yourself and ask if they would be interested in hearing more about your company.
The Nextdoor app is also a great place to find employees.
If you’re not familiar with the app, it’s a social media site designed for neighbors and homeowners living in an area to communicate about things like local events and job opportunities; think of it as Facebook or Instagram, but solely for your neighborhood.
Nextdoor is one of the best places on the internet where skilled labor can be found just by asking around — your employees are already there!
As a business you can set up your profile and create 2 social posts a month for free. You can also sponsor zip codes of your choosing for a small cost, and that allows you 2 more posts per month.
Take advantage of these posts. Beyond sharing valuable content for potential customers in your area, you can share about what it’s like to work at your company.
Who knows, you might just attract the right person.
And of course Facebook is the big kahuna for social platforms. Try targeting people on Facebook in local groups.
Use the “Discover” tab to find groups for your city, county, state, or beyond. Join the group, provide value when you can, and share about your open positions as long as the groups’ rules allow it.
Not only could this help you find new employees, but you’ll have more visibility by being in front of homeowners in your area who might need your services.
Besides using groups, you can always promote that you’re hiring either on your page through regular posting, or with sponsored ads on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, etc.
Expand Your Search
If you can’t find skilled labor locally, look nationally! You may have exhausted the pool of talent in your local area. So start expanding your search to potential employees in neighboring states.
Use location filters to search on job boards for the types of employees you’re looking to hire.
You never know when someone that matches your company’s needs might post their resume online. There are plenty of people from out-of-town who are willing to relocate.
To entice these out-of-towners, some companies offer hiring bonuses or are willing to pay to relocate the employee and their family. In fact, this Florida HVAC company is offering a $25,000 hiring bonus!
This might sound expensive, but could be worth the investment if it means you can hire the people you need.
Explore Trades Platforms
Did you know there are innovative new platforms built just for the skilled trades?
Hammr, a San Francisco-based startup, is a social media platform designed to help people in construction build a community worldwide.
From CEO and Co-Founder, Brek Goin, “It’s becoming a standard place where the next generation of trades are coming to connect, build their network, set up visual work portfolios, and find work.”
The platform is currently in beta testing, but its gaining a lot of traction. They plan to distribute their product through their community of 300k followers on Instagram. And they will be adding robust hiring features down the road.
But already, Hammr is quickly becoming a great place to build relationships and find good employees.
And if you live on the West Coast, ToolBelt is another pioneering software in the trades. This app is specifically for the purpose finding work and closing the skilled trades gap; by connecting labor with contractors in the Pacific Northwest (soon to spread nationwide).
From CEO of ToolBelt, Joshua Engelbrecht, “Our mission at ToolBelt is to connect the construction industry’s labor. We solve the labor gap by connecting GCs, remodelers, and builders to skilled labor. GCs and builders love ToolBelt because it helps them increase their production capacity and find skilled labor that matches their project needs.”
While both of these platforms are in the early stages, they are making major strides in solving the skills gap!
Setup profiles in both and watch as they expand and offer fresh ways for you to find talented tradesmen and women.
Create Enticing Job Ads
Home service companies who want to attract the best candidates to their positions need a job ad that stands out.
Write your ad with clear descriptions of your company’s goals, values, mission and culture. It’s also vital to include a detailed outline of the skills and qualifications that are necessary for the position.
Keep your ad conversational. Make it feel personal. Job applicants want to know what they’re in for, and this is the perfect opportunity to show them how you and your company are unique.
To really set yourself apart, think outside the box and share something interesting or exciting about your business.
Include things like why someone should work for you, how they will fit into your company, and what kind of growth potential you offer.
And be sure to highlight your most enticing benefits:
Do you offer top pay in your region?
What kind of bonuses or incentives do you use to reward your team?
Do employees love your medical benefits package?
Are flexible schedules an option?
What kind of ongoing training do you invest in?
Are you willing to pay for certifications if an applicant doesn’t have the right ones yet?
Can employees work or dispatch from home?
The list goes on and on.
Think hard about what sets your company apart. Talk to your current employees about what they appreciate, or find out what they might like to see offered.
All this information can give you more hiring power when you’re headhunting!
Use Visual Media
Using video is a creative way to attract talent by showing a behind-the-scenes look at what its like to work for your company.
These types of recruitment videos can be done in a variety of ways. You could do an inside scoop about your company culture for potential employees to see how they’ll fit in before accepting the job offer.
Or you could show them why people love working at your company by highlighting stories from current employees.
Check out a few of these great examples:
Make your recruitment videos available anywhere and everywhere you can.
Put them in paid ads, share them as social media posts, trim them down and upload them to Facebook and Instagram Stories, put them on your website, include a link to the video(s) in any job descriptions, etc.
Don’t feel overwhelmed by the thought of making rectruitment videos. They don’t have to be anything complicated or expensive.
A candid cell phone video will work just fine — and might even work better because it gives an honest look at your company.
Glossy, highly produced, and overly edited videos could seem too corporate or disingenuous.
LinkedIn released a tutorial on how to make a great recruitment video with your cell phone. It has actionable and easy tips to get an effective recruitment video filmed quickly!
But if video isn’t your thing, you should at least share pictures of your team.
Photos of employees on the job can go a long way to help people see your work environment in a new light.
Screen Applicants Carefully
There’s a lot of turnover in the trades, and that gets expensive. So when you’re looking for a new hire, qualifications aren’t the only factor.
Once you get some resumes on your desk, sort through them carefully. While experience is important, consider more than just skill level.
Instead look at your applicants’ work ethic and loyalty.
Have they stayed at prior jobs longer than a year or two?
Do they have certifications that weren’t necessary for their trade, but bettered them in some way?
Do they have leadership experience or skills that could translate into becoming a leader?
Enthusiasm is another important factor.
As you interview candidates, see how they answer questions like:
How do you stay motivated?
How do you help others stay motivated?
Where do you see yourself in 1, 5 or 10 years?
What other skills would you be excited to learn about?
What kind of training do you wish you got at your last job?
A positive attitude and a willingness to learn might be a better fit than you realize. Skills can always be taught to the right individual.
Finally, when considering candidates, take into account their hobbies and interests too — especially if they could relate to your company in some way.
You might be surprised at what someone brings to the table outside of the role you’re actively hiring for.
Their talents may even cause you to create a new role that could fill some gap in your company!
Develop Good Onboarding
This is the most important part of hiring, and it’s not just a one-time thing. Onboarding should be ongoing to ensure that your new hires are succesful longterm.
The first step in onboarding is setting expectations. You should provide a thorough overview of what’s expected day-to-day from the perspective of both employee and employer, as well as an outline of how they can grow and find success over time.
Take your time creating a new hire training program for each position. This will help your employees be adequately prepared for the role they’ll be undertaking.
The last thing you want is to hire a talented person, only to have them leave because they don’t feel like their skills are being utilized in the way that makes sense given their level of experience and qualifications.
Examine your company culture too. There may be some things about the job environment or office that could reveal itself as challenging for an inexperienced person.
Having a solid training period in the beginning helps employees feel confident and you’ll see better results faster.
It may seem expensive to spend days or weeks training a new hire, but this investment is well worth it.
A lack of attention to these things may lead some people not wanting to stay long term. And this would have been preventable had it just been taken care of in the beginning.
And onboarding doesn’t end once they leave orientation…
Always be thinking about how you can continue the learning experience even after day one of work has come and gone.
Many companies find that one-on-one mentorships with experienced professionals on staff are a great way to go!
The last step in onboarding? Frequently check in with your team members to get feedback about what’s going well, where improvements could be made, and any issues or questions they have.
This helps ensure more open lines of communication between supervisors and employees, which leads to healthier workplaces overall.
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Have Resources Ready
You would never show up at a customers house without your tools of the trade. The same should be true for onboarding.
This is an area where the old adage "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" applies.
Create the following resources and have them ready before you bring in a new employee:
A "welcome" letter from management outlining expectations. This letter should clearly state what it means to be successful at the organization's functions, as well as how success is measured internally by leadership teams.
A packet with a company overview, their job description, definitions of key organizational terminology, checklists of any tools or equipment that will be required, benefits package information, etc.
An employee handbook or policy guide that outlines time management, discipline policy, security procedures and protocols, etc.
Training materials that can be accessed anytime. This is one way to ensure all employees are on the same page when it comes to safety standards, sales, or other training topics.
Written instructions for completing key tasks related to their jobs responsibilities at different stages in their employment period. This helps avoid confusion if someone onboarded replaces another team member who is no longer there or leaves.
Having manuals for training, quick-reference sheets for safety, tutorials for any software your company uses, and other necessary materials readily available will make a world of difference.
If your employees receive ongoing, weekly training, make sure you have resources ready for new hires to get up to speed.
This will make them feel more confident at work from day one — and that confidence is contagious!
Yes, finding a skilled tradesperson is tough. Getting them to work for you can be even tougher.
But with these ideas, attracting talented people with desirable skillsets and attitudes will be a little easier.
Opening up recruitment channels, seeking out more applicants through social media platforms, showing what makes your company special, and keeping employees engaged and well-trained will all help fill this skills shortage.
Have any of these tactics helped with filling your positions? I want to hear from contractors who have been successful with their hiring challenges! Tell me what worked and what didn’t below.