Who Do We Hire For the Future of HVAC?

The growing trend of Baby-Boomers retiring from the HVACR industry has forced many companies to scramble to find candidates to replace those seasoned service technicians and journeymen mechanics.

Without a doubt, the best way to find potential employees is through referral networks. Managers and HVACR contractors must always be on the lookout for new talent, even if they are not actively hiring. Companies that are not fishing for new talent as actively as they should will certainly feel the repercussions once their elder employees decide that golf is more enjoyable in retirement than soldering pipe is in the field.

Proactive recruiting should be at the forefront of any HVACR organization’s professional agenda. Success will come to those who realize the importance of filling their employee pipeline with talent. Some candidates won’t last, eaten up quickly by the competition; that makes it vital to have a stable of potentials in your pipeline at all times.

Today’s job market belongs to candidates; journeymen know they can receive that bump up the union wage scale, and so are selective when looking for their employer of choice. Therefore, I always tell my hiring managers to look at the resume and move quickly when we decide to pursue an individual. Separate your company from competitors by showing candidates the advantages of working for your organization.
For example, Johnson Controls created the Service+Technical Excellence Program (S+TEP) to help groom its current mechanics and for use as a recruiting tool to entice potential employees. S+TEP is an educational training program that employees complete on their own time, with monetary incentives for each level accomplished. Candidates can also receive two certifications: United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices (UA) STAR and Master Technician level achievement. The key is finding the right person to get into these programs. But how do we find those candidates?

Without a formal recruiting strategy to approach these hard-to-find candidates, a company likely will constantly stumble into the same dead ends. You always have to incorporate “out of the box” thinking if you want to successfully fill such a demanding position. One concept I find effective is advanced Internet recruitment strategies (AIRS), a headhunting technique that uses the Internet to find successful, seasoned, tradesman-level candidates that are qualified to fill the employee pipeline (Editor’s Note: For more information on AIRS, visit www.airsdirectory.com).

Another trend is the growing use of technology in virtual recruiting-the majority of recruiters are online and prefer to receive Internet-based resumes more so than paper. This is a trend that is not going away any time soon; if you aren’t recruiting in the “virtual” world and your competitors are, where will that leave you?

We certainly need to recruit mechanical-equipment service tradesmen (MEST) and future apprentices as well. The Catch-22 is locating a candidate that can hit the ground running, without the benefit of our having the time, money or resources to train these people. So what should we do?

The answer is simple: We have to train them and take time to build future employees up to standards so that they become a valuable company asset.
For candidates, I cannot stress enough that their employment search be viewed as a full-time job; actively submitting resumes through all mainstream, niche, and industry-specific job boards as well as company portals.

Candidates who lack Internet access and/or the computer savvy to produce an online resume should take advantage of the Internet access at public libraries; utilize resume templates such as those found at http://www.microsoft.com. Utilize such tools to your advantage, because employers are out there on the hunt.

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