Ask any experienced contractor about how they recruited their good crews and great supervisors and they will tell you the secret in one word –“Years.” No mystery, we have to go through a few people who look good on paper (their resume) and discover that their behavior is not what it should be. Only after mostly trial and error, do we find that one professional who is the right person for us. Unless you are paying well above market salaries, this reiterative process is the realistic way to find quality people who want to work. There is some luck involved but, it is mostly patience on the contractor’s part.
With drug testing, criminal records and other background checks disqualifying a high percentage of potential hires, we need to increase the number of applicants. Finding more people who could potentially work for us gives to us a choice. Always having one more prospect gives to us a plan “B” in an emergency.
I am certain that is takes more than one hire to fill a new position, say a Safety Manager or General Foreman. As a company grows, it will likely add these kinds of positions. The business is more complex at higher numbers of people so, additional specialties are needed. I have seen one situation where four people were hired for a newly created position over a couple of years (3 people fired) before a satisfactory manager was found.
So, what is the major part of building a great set of crews and managers? Finding sources of prospects. Below, we have listed several ways to find more people who could be your next employee. Take a look and see if any of these ideas will help you with your human resource. There is never a danger in having too many applicants.
1. Did you know 45% of people who start college don’t finish? Think of that Civil Engineering or Construction Management Student who doesn’t care for the classroom. He or she may be your next field superintendent. Certainly, their education level is higher than average. Get to know the dean of your local college(s). That person may be able to direct or refer you to a soon to be ex-student.
2. Is there a local “Boot Camp” for younger people who have made mistakes early in life? After the exposure to the military style life, these youngsters are on a more disciplined path. Most of them certainly don’t want to go back to that life.
3. Look to countries with political problems. It may be legal for them to immigrate to the U.S. because they could be viewed as politically persecuted. These individuals have proven to be very reliable and hard working employees in years past. Giving anyone a piece of the American Dream will make them very loyal.
4. Consider recruiting Canadians — most of them love the U.S., can move here freely, and most speak English already.
5. A contractor in the western U.S. is working with people who haven’t gotten off to the greatest start in life. They particularly target high school dropouts. The company attempts to communicate the potential long-term income potential from learning a trade. Most kids today don’t realize just how much you can make working with your hands. They provide training, mentoring, and require classes. The retention has been high, and morale is great.
6. A company has found staff by running ads in depressed parts of the country. Some states are slowing down in construction activity resulting in people looking for work. They also have run ads in the sports section as opposed to the classified section of the newspaper.
7. Contact the National Center for Construction Education and Research in Gainesville, Florida. They have programs currently targeting exactly the type of person who, when trained, will raise the caliber of employees.
8. One possibility is to conduct a series of industry oriented training programs for the vocational schools in the local area. By taking the lead, the company positions itself as a firm to consider. Another possibility is to actually develop and present a qualified training program for the local vocational school. The training is actually run at the contractor’s office or training facility and the students get credit for a School to Work Program. Both of these take some effort but they do work. In the end, you will be in the “pole position” when it comes to recruiting these students.
For more information( and more recruiting ideas) on this critical subject, purchase a copy of my McGraw-Hill book, Managing a Construction Firm on Just 24 Hours a Day. We offer a bundle with Excel templates that are featured in the book and 5 on-line courses to help teach construction business concepts. Go to www.stevensci.com and click on the book link
Our workbook companion with 10 case studies is titled, The Business Managment Workbook for Construction with Case Studies is now available.This text is focused as an assist for Colleges, Associations and Contractor Training Programs that teach the business of construction.
My next book, The New Business Model of Construction Contracting is planned for December 2007. Its focus concerns the changing construction environment and what processes address those changes.
Matt Stevens is President of Stevens Construction Institute, Inc. A management consulting firm which works only with construction contractors. Learn more at www.stevensci.com. Take a free course at www.constructioncbt.com and sign in as a new student.