Tom Masters: Hiring the right employee for your plumbing business
Good help is hard to find, but these tips can help you reel in the best job candidates.
When you’re searching for a new, skilled employee, it’s easy to think you might never find the right candidate.
We assume that all the good ones are taken, but the truth is the market is filled with qualified people with all the skills, knowledge and determination you’re looking for. The hard part is finding and recruiting them.
Plumbing is a highly skilled profession that involves direct and frequent contact with customers and clients, so finding the right candidate is important for both your projects and your bottom line. With the right resources and a few new ways of recruiting, we hope to help you find that person.
Determine your needs
Finding the right person for the job means figuring out what the job is in the first place. Do you need an experienced candidate, or will someone new to the trade work? Will this person be doing general tasks, or will they be responsible for managing projects or supervising a crew?
What type of availability do you need from them? Weekends? Nights? Holidays?
All of these are important factors to consider before you start advertising and recruiting.
Go on the hunt
Once you’ve figured out what type of person you’re looking for, you can start advertising the position. There are a multitude of options available for this; some are free, and some require a subscription or fee.
Craigslist and Facebook both have job opportunity sections that are free to post to. These platforms reach a wide range of job seekers and can be a great resource to reach out into the community. Share the posting on your social media pages and ask friends and family to share it. This compound effect reaches thousands almost overnight.
However, these free platforms don’t allow employers to vet the applicants or provide an outside application process. For those resources, turn to a website such as Indeed.com. Paid job posting sites funnel applications directly to your inbox, allowing you to quickly view their qualifications and résumé and reach out to them on a secure platform.
There are also more antiquated methods of posting jobs, such as the newspaper, chamber of commerce and job posting boards in local hot spots. While they are time-tested, these methods of advertising don’t get the same traffic as before and have fallen by the wayside with the younger generations.
Establish an application protocol
Instead of interviewing candidates one by one as they apply, establish a closing period for applications; then, after reviewing all of them, establish a pool of applicants.
Set up interviews on one day and spend that day going through your applicants. This allows you to have all of them fresh in your memory so you can compare them side by side.
The way businesses interview candidates seems to be as different as the applicants are themselves. Some take a formal approach while others just have a chit chat while they are squeezing in lunch. Usually we’d say “to each their own,” but the interview is prob-
ably the most important part of the hiring process.
The time you take with the candidates here is what separates them from each other and brings their paper personality to life. Here, you’ll be able to get a feel for them, question them, get to know them, and truly get a sense of who they are and if they’ll be a good fit.
Set up the interview in a quiet area of your office and make it well known that you are not to be disturbed unless it’s an emer-gency. The environment should be professional but comfortable — you are interviewing, not interrogating.
Have all of the candidates’ paperwork handy, including applications, résumés and any additional documents they’ve submitted.
When you schedule the interviews, make sure to allow enough time to adequately go through the process with each person; typically, 30-45 minutes per person is ideal. Ask them to arrive 15 minutes early so they are there if you happen to get done early.
Open the interview with an introduction to yourself and the company. Go over any expectations that may be out of the ordinary such as night work, weekends and holiday hours. If they can’t meet those, then you won’t waste time with the rest of the interview.
Ask them a few questions about themselves. Where did they grow up? Did they play sports or something of the sort? Do they have kids? You won’t be using these to make decisions, but it will make them feel more comfortable.
Ask them to review their qualifications and experience. If for some reason they lied on their application or résumé, you’ll be able to pick it up here.
Ask them some trade-related questions — simple things that anyone qualified for the position should be able to answer. Have them walk you through a process or repair. If they can instruct you how to do something, they’re usually proficient at doing it them-selves.
Avoid cliché questions like “Why should I hire you?” and “What makes you different?” You’ll rarely get truthful answers here — only what they think you want to hear. Instead, present them with a problem and see how they would handle it. These answers are much better suited at determining how well they handle adversity and solve problems.
Tons of businesses ask for previous work experience and references, but hardly any ever contact them. While you may not get much info from previous employers, contact them anyway. You’ll at least be able to confirm the applicant’s work history and find out what kind of employee they were.
References can be a resource, as well. If they are eager to answer questions and seem to care about the applicant, chances are the applicant is a decent person who does right by their friends and family, which is definitely something you want.
Verify any trade qualifications, education and licenses. Call the various boards and institutions that issue them their certificates or credentials and confirm that they do possess what they claim to. Businesses like Anytime Plumbing have been following this method for years to find people who fit well into their business model and expectations.
Once all of this is done, the decision is now in your hands. You know what you’re looking for, what you need from an employee and what you’ll be expecting.
Go with your gut. If one person stands out to you over the rest, go with it. If you’re torn, consider bringing in some senior people or supervisors to help figure it out. Their input is usually going to be unbiased and based on what they see.
Finding the right person to fill a position can be hard at times, but following these steps help make it a little easier.