As a contractor, your reputation rises and falls on the quality of your work. That might be fine if you’re the one doing it all. But for the most part, you’re not. Instead, you have to trust other people to do the work on your behalf. So, of course, you want to hire good people: skilled, honest, hardworking.
According to the USG and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Commercial Construction Index, 60% of contractors report having trouble finding skilled workers. With such a severe labor shortage, it’s even more important that you’re intentional about your approach to finding and retaining top talent. Here are nine tips to help you navigate that process:
Hiring Tip #1 Define your ideal candidate
Who, exactly, are you looking for as an employee? Make a list of every qualification you can think of: skills, character, attitude, knowledge, work ethic, experience, education, and so on. Craft a specific job description from those notes. If you’re flexible about any of your requirements, say that. More importantly, if you have some non-negotiables, indicate those, too. Defining your expectations up front will help weed out mismatched applicants.
Hiring Tip #2 Adopt an “always on” approach
Don’t wait until three weeks before your busiest season to start looking for help. Other contractors may have already snatched up the best employees, leaving the talent pool shallow. Then, as you get closer to your first few projects, you may make poor hiring decisions out of desperation. To find the best people, adopt an “always hiring” mentality.
Hiring Tip #3 Think outside the ad
Don’t just run a newspaper ad and expect applicants to line up at your door. Get creative and think about where your ideal candidate may be looking and to whom they may be talking:
- Social media
- Tech schools and community/junior colleges
- Job fairs
- Current employees
- Job posting sites such as Indeed, Monster, LinkedIn, and SimplyHired
- Job Corps
Hiring Tip #4 Vet your applicants
Regardless of how quickly you need help, take the time to conduct interviews and check references. Most of us sound at least a little better on paper than we present in person, so don’t trust an application to tell you the whole story about a potential employee. Have a face-to-face meeting so you can better assess how the candidate will fit with your business culture. Call references to see how their reports match up with your initial impressions of the candidate. And remember: It’s easier to teach skills than character. So trust your gut and pass on an applicant who simply doesn’t seem like a good fit—even if they have the knowledge, skills, and experience you’re looking for.
Hiring Tip #5 Build a strong brand
Talented people want to work for successful companies. So, think about the other contractors you admire in your community. What makes them so great? From your perspective, what specific characteristics make them successful? What’s their reputation among other contractors and with homeowners? How did they develop that reputation, and how can you match it?
Hiring Tip #6 Be honest about the work
If your employees tend to get 20 hours per week, don’t promise full-time work. If you offer opportunities for advancement, say so. If your work culture is a bit unusual, be up-front about that. In short, make sure your applicants know what they’ll be getting into. If they sign on with right-sized expectations, they’ll be more likely to stick around.
Hiring Tip #7 Offer better-than-adequate compensation
Most people work because they need or want the pay. Offer competitive wages (and then some) and benefits, including paid time off. If you think you’ve found the exact right employee, it may be worth stretching a bit to bring them on board.
Hiring Tip #8 Deal with underperforming employees
If you want to keep your best workers around, you’ll need to make sure they’re not picking up the slack from underperforming employees. If you seem to have a revolving door when it comes to your top talent, it may be time to look at yourself and determine how you can become a better manager.
Hiring Tip #9 Genuinely care about your people
Go above and beyond to show your employees you care about them as people, not just as workers. Remember birthdays and work anniversaries. Be generous with your praise and careful with your do-better speeches. Offer training opportunities so your employees feel like you’re investing in them and their work.
Re-Bath is seeking new franchise owners. If you’re ready to make the transition from contractor to small business owner, we’d love to talk. Learn more here.