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On National Recruiter Day, Celebrate with Some Best Practices for the Skilled Trades

By: Julie Anderson

Today is National Recruiter Day, where we take time out to celebrate our talent acquisition leaders and staff across all of our locations nationwide. Their indefatigable efforts play a critical part in our company’s—and indeed any company’s— success and help businesses grow by finding the right people for the right role.

But the skilled trades are a unique landscape for recruiting professionals, as the industry has distinct needs and requires a multi-faceted approach to winning the battle for top talent. Here are six best practices for successful recruiting in the skilled trades.

1. Make sure your talent acquisition team is in alignment on your business’ goals
Recruiting for what your business needs at that moment and anticipating what they will need in the near future is critical to making your team relevant to your company’s growth. Is the company looking to expand services or coverage area? Do they need more support in HVAC or another area? Are more operations staff needed? All of these types of questions should be answered before determining your recruiting strategy.
2. Illustrate the value of a skilled trades career
Too many young people and later-stage career-changers are still far too unaware of the opportunity and benefits of a skilled trade career. From stability and job-security, to six-figure incomes without taking on loads of student debt, recruiters in the trades need to educate job seekers about why learning a skilled trade doesn’t just lead to a better paycheck, but a better lifestyle as well.
3. Offer candidates not just a job, but a career path
Share the stories of how frequently a career in the skilled trades can go from apprentice, to licensed journeyman, to master contractor, to supervisor or manager, to president of the entire company. Upward mobility has always been common in our industry, often moreso than in more traditional hierarchal industries. For a candidate with ambition, a career path to upper levels of a company is quite attainable in the skilled trades.
4. Recruit both technical skills and “soft” skills
Obviously, technical or “hard” skills are a must in the trades: candidates need to have the training and certifications to be a successful technician and fulfill their day-to-day responsibilities on the job. But just as important in our industry are the “soft” skills, the emotional intelligence and perception that build relationships in a customer-facing business. Being a calming influence on a stressed homeowner dealing with a plumbing emergency is of great value, as is the ability to interact professionally with co-workers while on the job. Approachability, communication skills, problem-solving ability and teamwork should be part of the job description just as much as any of the technical skills required.
5. Broaden your universe of candidates: recruit women into the trades
Women currently make up only 10% of the workforce in the skilled trades. With nearly a quarter of a million new trade jobs expected in the U.S. by the end of the decade, there is tremendous opportunity in the trades for women. Make sure your technician recruiting targets female candidates and demonstrate a welcome environment and a career path. Also, support organizations and vocational programs that encourage women to pursue a career in the trades.
6. Think like a marketer!
Just like if you were selling a product to a consumer, how you market your company to potential employees matters a great deal. Consider establishing a recruitment marketing team or plan to “advertise” what makes your company unique and why it’s a great place to work every day. This can take a variety of forms: digital and direct marketing, online grassroots outreach and in-house recruiting. Show employee images, testimonials and success stories that give a flavor of what it’s like to work at your company and why the candidate should want to join your team. In a competitive hiring landscape, the companies that showcase what makes them special are at an advantage!

    Obviously, these best practices will evolve over time, but the principles behind them will endure. Part of what makes skilled trade recruiters so special and unique is their willingness to balance a number of challenges and obstacles with innovative thinking and hard work to make sure they hire the best people who will take exceptional care of the customer while pursuing excellence and their own personal goals. We celebrate their work today, and smart businesses celebrate their contributions every day.

    Julie Anderson is Vice President of Recruiting at Wrench Group, a national leader in home services operating in 27 markets nationwide. She has more than 25 years of experience in corporate recruiting and training.