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Recruiting for the Next Generation

Grow Your Business With the Right People

Recruiting the Next Generation of Independent Contractors

As a contractor, you understand how difficult it is to recruit and retain millennial trade professionals. With nearly 70% of high school graduates enrolling in a college or university, the pool of available talent is limited and shrinking.

How many millennials are truly interested in pursuing a career as an electrician, HVAC tech or plumber? Between higher education and other high-demand vocational training programs (think computing programming and IT), recruiting tomorrow’s contractors is becoming increasingly difficult.

That said, your profession is essential to the construction industry and the regular maintenance of commercial and residential properties. Technical trades also require skill and mastery to succeed, especially if you aspire to eventually run your own business.

So, how do you find the right talent to sustain and grow your contracting company? Below, we’ve highlighted three ways to help bolster your recruitment efforts so you and your business don’t fall victim to the widening talent gap.

Maintain Partnerships with Technical Vocational and Training Schools

To stay in touch with millennials preparing to enter the job market, consider proposing a partnership with your business and a local vocational school, or look for opportunities for your company to interact with up and coming tradesmen. Explore a variety of partnership activities, including options to:

  • Establish an apprenticeship program
  • Participate in hands-on learning seminars or job shadowing
  • Offer training classes in the evenings or on the weekends
  • Become a guest speaker or volunteer informational sessions to high schools and vocational schools
  • Host an after-school networking event
  • Participate in job fairs or open houses

Solid apprenticeship programs are a no-brainer. They help prevent talent shortage from impacting your business and a number of other benefits, including:

  • Customized training that meets your industry standards and your specific business needs.
  • Improved recruiting and retention rates.
  • Provides a reliable pool of qualified contractors ready to fill positions within your business.
  • Enhances safety in the workplace, if you choose to hire a student following completion of their apprenticeships.

Depending on your level of involvement, partnerships help prepare individuals to work for your business specifically, and can also foster connections with soon-to-be contractors who go on to work elsewhere. Don’t underestimate the importance of maintaining connections with other contractors in your area. Consider your competition to also be an ally in the business, and resource for future recruitment purposes.

Lastly, while recruitment and apprenticeship activities are invaluable, they also take time and effort—something you don’t necessarily have on top of running your business.

It’s important that you find the right mix of recruitment activities for your business to help you maintain a steady pipeline of talent (but without biting off more than you can chew).

Encourage Recruitment Through Your Employees

You don’t have to do it alone! Beyond apprenticeships and partnerships with local schools / training programs, another way to boost recruitment is through your current employees. Word-of-mouth marketing is a promising way to encourage prospective employees to apply to your business.

Encourage your contractors to reach out to their connections and refer friends who are a potential fit. Even consider a referral bonus for any referred hires.

Compensation is one way to motivate employees to stay for the long-term, but if that’s all that’s keeping your employees there, chances are they may not be truly happy. Instead, look for ways to create a workplace where people want to work. In turn, they will share positive experiences with their friends and peers in the business — it’s a win, win situation for everyone.

Many employees—prospective and current—value continued education and professional development. Continued training and leadership programs in the workplace encourage a mastery of the industry, and create intrinsic motivation for employees to advance in their careers. Your current employees can then share their experience with younger talent as a recruitment ambassador.

Other job benefits to highlight that young generations of talent look for include:

  • Job flexibility Transparency in the workplace
  • Broken down silos, or regular interaction with other departments and management
  • Mentorship

Hearing about the benefits firsthand from your own current employees will help reassure applicants that your business is a fit for them.

Offer a Career Path, Not Just a Job Description

The best way to ensure you’re attracting the right job candidates is two-fold: Ask the right questions and make sure your job postings are as clear as possible.

Many contractors struggle to find contractors looking for a career destination, versus a job to get by. The talent shortage is expected to worsen in the coming years, so attracting talent that is committed to making a career out of the contracting profession is important for the sustainability of your business.

Young professionals and millennials are likely to stay at a company if there is clear room for advancement. Consider adding talent success stories to your website, or offer more information about promotion expectations within the job description.

So, how can you promote contracting as a career? By meeting prospective applicants where they are: online.

Amp Up Your Digital Presence

Place your job posting online where younger pros are searching for new opportunities. Social media channels like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are often used as recruitment and HR tools to evaluate potential employees. Just as these channels provide a platform for your business to share job openings, they also serve as a way to screen potential applicants.

Many young pros head to LinkedIn groups to inquire about job openings or opportunities. Similarly, LinkedIn offers many opportunities to virtually network and apply for jobs. Here are a few groups to help you get started:

Other possibilities include specialized job boards, similar to Indeed, but are made just for those seeking contracting opportunities. Consider scouting on one of these boards:

Proactively seeking out prospective talent will help your business avoid the talent gap and continue business as usual. Apprenticeships, employee recruitment ambassadors and other networking opportunities will help position your business as a leading desired employer.