Australia is currently experiencing a shortage of quality tradespeople, which means that experienced tradies are in high demand. As a result, finding skilled workers you can rely on can be tricky. And retaining them can be even harder.
There’s a lot at stake when it comes to recruiting tradespeople. Hiring the wrong person can cost you serious time and money. You may have to invest in additional training or even go back to square one and start the recruitment process again if things don’t work out. Hiring the wrong person can also lead to substandard work, which can damage your reputation.
To avoid this, you want to make sure you get the recruitment process right. So, let’s have a look at a few tips for hiring (and retaining) good tradespeople.
Create a Targeted Job ad
A generic job ad will bring in generic applicants. You may be tempted to cast as wide a net as possible to get the largest pool of applicants. However, that just means you have more work to do narrowing down the applicants and a greater chance of hiring the wrong person. Instead, spend some time working out exactly what you want in the perfect applicant. Based on that, create a targeted job ad that clearly specifies not just the qualifications and experience you’re looking for, but also the type of person you want.
Make sure the job ad also promotes your company as an attractive place to work. Make the role sound as appealing as possible (but be realistic). Remember to showcase more than just salary. Highlight any additional benefits to the role including things like skills development and additional training, opportunities to work on high-profile projects, opportunities for advancement or progression, job flexibility and any other potential benefits.
Remember that a good job ad does more than just let applicants know what is required of them. It should also let them know what the role and your company have to offer.
How to find the Right People
Once you have your perfectly crafted job ad, you need to get it in front of the right people. Don’t just rely on general job sites like Seek or Indeed. Talk to specialist construction recruitment agencies. They can work with you to pull together a list of qualified and experienced applicants that meet your requirements.
Besides online ads and working with recruiters, it’s also a good idea to ask around your network. Talk to industry colleagues, partner contractors and suppliers to find out if they know of any good people.
It’s also worth looking at your existing staff to see if there’s an opportunity to promote from within. Sometimes upskilling or training an existing staff member can be a better option than recruiting.
It’s also worth talking to your team members to see if there’s anyone they can recommend. If you have valued team members that are committed to your business, they may have valuable connections. And when recruiting, there’s no better ambassador for your company than a satisfied employee.
Make the most of the Interview Process
Too often a job interview can feel like a perfunctory process, sort of like a face-to-face resume reading. But it doesn’t have to be. A good interview is a vital tool for getting to know your applicants and determining whether they are the right fit for you. While you can get a sense of their qualifications and experience from their resume, the interview is your opportunity to get a sense of who they are as a person, their attitudes towards work, their communication skills and anything else relevant to the role.
When it comes to a good interview it’s important to not improvise. Put together a list of interview questions that are specifically relevant to the role and your industry. These questions will help to structure the interview and ensure you get to cover all the necessary ground.
While it’s important to find out about the applicant’s experience and qualifications, use the interview to find out as much about the applicant as you can, professionally and personally. Here are a few key topics you should explore with the candidate:
- Find out if their trade is a real passion or simply a job. A tradie who’s passionate about what they do will take pride in their work and be a real asset to your company.
- Find out if there are additional skills or qualifications they would like to gain. If they are interested in expanding their skillset, they could end up taking on work beyond the role for which they are being considered.
- Discuss their previous workplaces. Find out what they learned and why they left and listen to their attitudes regarding their former employers. This can provide valuable insights into their attitudes towards work and what they need to thrive.
- Talk about what they look for in an employer and how they like to work.
Remember that a good interview should go both ways. Provide plenty of information about the role and your company and encourage the applicant to ask questions. While you want to make sure that the applicant is suited to the role, you also want to make sure that the role and your company is a good fit for the applicant.
Once you’ve hired the right person, you want to make sure you can hold onto them. If you’re having problems with staff retention, then chances are you’re recruiting more often than you should be and your problem might not be with the recruitment process.
It’s important to remember that employment is a two-way street. Your employees need to work for you, but you also need to work for your employees. Ask yourself what you’re doing to create a work environment that people want to work in. Are you creating a safe, positive and inclusive workplace? Are you incentivising your staff and providing opportunities like training, upskilling and career progression?
Take a look at your successful competitors. What are they doing that’s different? How are they adapting to difficult situations? What additional training or incentives are they offering? Get inspired by your competitors and think about what would work for your team.
It’s also important to stay up to date with what’s happening in your industry. If you’re providing training or using techniques that are out of date you may struggle to attract or retain the best people. Likewise, if your incentives aren’t industry competitive then your staff may start to look elsewhere.
If you want to attract and retain the best people, you should ask yourself why a good tradie would want to work for you and, if given the opportunity, would they prefer to work somewhere else?
Recruiting can be a costly and time consuming process. However, it’s worth taking the time to do it right to ensure you get the best people for the job.