Tips for Hiring Employees as a Contractor
Business is taking off – it’s an exciting time! Calls are coming in and appointments with potential clients are piling up. And then it dawns on you – how are you going to get all this work done?
Running and growing your contracting business has a lot involved, but one major factor is the ability to find and hire quality employees. You might be in charge, but you still need people you can depend on to get the work done. Let’s have a look at ways you can find them and hire them.
Know When to Hire
“Act in Haste, Repent at Leisure” – so goes the saying. It’s true for a huge number of aspects of life, and that includes hiring.
On the one hand, it can be intimidating to try to hire ahead because you may have doubts about how much work you’ll have. You might fear being stuck with paying someone that you didn’t really need. However, the alternative can be far worse.
If you wait until the last minute to start hiring, you’re more likely to “settle.” You can be desperate to get bodies on the job and not have the time to look for the best candidates. That’s especially true when the economy is strong and the supply of workers is low.
Instead, hire ahead – at the beginning of the “high season” or better yet, even earlier. Allow yourself time to be choosy. Also, allow for time for new employees to get used to company culture. You might not think you have one – but you do. Every company, like every family, has its own way of doing things and handling work. New members need a chance to get used to that.
Of course, there may be times when you suddenly have more work than you could have predicted. It might at times to hire someone as soon as possible. But make that the exception, not the rule.
Know Where to Look
Once you’re ready to start looking, you have to figure out where to look. Odds are, you’ll need to do more than putting a “Help Wanted” sign in the window (although that can still work, too!)
In the 21st century, there are more places than ever to advertise when you want to hire. And none of them is the single correct solution. All can be helpful! Don’t write anything off just because it seems too newfangled or too old-fashioned. All these avenues are helpful.
Trade and Vocational Schools
Trade schools are a great place to start, whether you’re dealing with stamped concrete like us or you find yourself in another trade. Contact a school and ask about opportunities. Many schools will offer job fairs where you can set up a table and students learn more about your business and fill out an application. There may also be bulletin boards – both physical, cork ones and virtual ones on the school’s website that only students can access. With the right connections, you might even be able to talk about your work in front of a class and promote your business while you’re at it.
Another place to advertise your job openings is through classified ads. This is an area that now has both “traditional” and “virtual” opportunities, too.
It’s a fact that newspaper circulation has declined since the advent of the internet. But it’s still worthwhile to take out an ad in the help wanted section. In some cases, the paper will also run this ad on their website.
There are also many websites where you can post job openings for free or for a low fee. Craigslist is one that’s basically classified ads for anything. But there’s also a large variety of job sites. Indeed.com seems to be the biggest for both the US and Canada, but there are many others also.
It might seem like the whole world is on social media and that it’s the only thing on the internet. While that’s not quite true, it’s still a great way to reach people.
Hopefully, you’re already present on one or more social media platforms to market your services. You can make your ad seeking applicants part of your regular posting schedule. However, platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook also offer special (paid) “help wanted” ads that can reach a targeted audience in your area. LinkedIn tends to be more for white-collar work, although it could still be worthwhile to try. But Facebook might be the way to go for the trades, and it’s a relatively new feature so most people aren’t flooded with tons of ads yet.
Neighbourhood or community groups on social media are another place you can usually post for free.
The Local Hardware Store
In this era of big-box stores, we don’t always get the same opportunities to hang around the hardware store like Tim Allen and friends used to do on the TV comedy “Home Improvement”. But if there’s still a shop like that in your area, it’s a great place to let people know that you’re looking for help.
That’s not to discount big box stores completely; you never know who you might meet while you’re getting supplies. Once you get to know the knowledgeable staff (and they usually do work in the contractors’ area), they can be a great source of information and help connect you with someone who might be looking for work.
Know What You Need
Of course, when you start advertising, you need to know what the ad should say. What exactly are you hiring for? Is it a long-term or short-term position? How much experience is required? Is it strictly labour, or will it involve supervision of other employees as well?
Knowing your needs is going to be key if you want to hire the right person. Have the position pretty well defined before you invite the first candidate for an interview.
Write your ads with enough information so that the reader will have a decent idea of whether they’re a good fit. It will save both you and them a lot of time and frustration!
We know that occasionally you may come across someone with skills and experience that would be invaluable to your company, even though they’re not an exact match for what you were looking for. It’s ok to make adjustments – and it’s horrible to let a good employee get away. Having flexibility is good; on the other hand, don’t forget you have to fill your need for particular skills.
Look for Experience and References
Once you’ve got the word out and start getting responses, you have to know what to look for. If they’ve submitted a résúmé or application, you should have a good idea of whether they fit.
One thing to consider when looking at work history is how long they’ve held each job. There can be perfectly valid reasons for only being in a job for a short time. However, it can also be a huge warning sign and indicate a problem employee.
That’s why it’s always a good idea to check out references. Who is able to speak of this candidate, their personal level of responsibility and their skill in their job? Knowing these things can help make your decision a lot easier.
Another factor is experience. It is important, although it’s not necessary for every job. Some skills can be picked up on the job – especially if you follow our advice above and don’t wait until you’re too busy to provide any training.
Get the Right Fit
Remember, too, that finding someone with the right trade skills is just part of the hiring process. Not only do they have to know how to pour cement properly, but they also have to be able to work as part of a team.
You’ll be able to learn a lot about a person when you talk to them on the phone and through your interview. Contacting their references is also a big part of this.
Also, you want to be sure that they’re right for your position. Just because they’ve worked in your trade for years and have good references doesn’t mean they’ll work out.
For instance, someone with years of experience, including time as a foreman, most likely will not want to take a step backward. There are exceptions, of course. But most people who have risen to that level are likely looking to put all he’s learned to use and move into an equivalent or better position.
By the same token, not everyone who is great in the day-to-day grind is going to make a good supervisor. Different people have different skills. Someone may be the most-skilled person you’ve ever met when doing an installation. But they may be a horrible supervisor or teacher. You might encourage them to try, but it’s not good for anyone to force someone into a position they’re not suited for.
Know the Competition
Finally, it’s important to not live in a bubble. We’ve talked elsewhere about why it’s important to know other contractors, in and out of your trade. One of the reasons for that is because it’s important to be able to compete for workers.
Remember that people applying for a job with you are probably also applying with others. Are you offering a competitive wage? Benefits, including insurance, vacation time and much more, are also important. The overall atmosphere of a company makes a huge difference, too. The pay is important but hardly the only factor that goes into someone choosing and staying with a company.
The whole process of finding new employees can be more challenging than you’d expect. But by using various channels, checking out references and finding the right fit, you can bring on great additions to the company who will hopefully be with you for a long time to come.