Are you as frustrated as George Costanza when it comes to hiring field service technicians?
Finding and hiring the best employees is one of the most difficult challenges any business will face. With that said, service contractors have it far worse than most industries due to the declining interest many young folks have in trade labor. From HVAC to fire protection contractors, this labor shortage results in an aging workforce making it difficult for companies to modernize, maintain competitive pricing, and meet customers’ evolving expectations.
As daunting as this challenge seems, there are a couple glimmers of hope in labor market trends and new recruiting strategies. As more and more young people find the value proposition of college to be in decline, they will shift to professions that will provide a career that doesn’t leave them in debt for the rest of their lives. Additionally, by applying, what we at ServiceTrade call, a “digital wrap” to your field service company, you can attract the best and brightest technicians with a strong online presence.
The Economic State of Higher Education
All contractors are aware of the stigmas that surround skilled trade labor. These stigmas are deep-rooted in our society and founded upon the belief that career success can only be achieved through years of collegiate education. This belief was established at a time when a secondary education was a rarity and relatively difficult to obtain compared to current times. This can be seen in US Census statistics that show college enrollment is around 9X what it was in 1950 compared to a population growth that only doubled over the same period of time. Enrollment in higher education is outpacing population growth for a multitude of reasons, and many point to easy access to financial aid as the primary factor followed by an overall increase in educational capacity to meet the well-funded demand.
High demand and easy money has resulted in steady cost increases for secondary education which has, ultimately, been followed by an increase in student loan debt. The Institute for College Access and Success found that average student loan debt tripled from 1993 to 2012 to around $30K. This increase in student loan debt is beginning to to impact the cost-benefit analysis young people make when considering their career. The story I heard from my parents about paying for school by picking up an evening job is no longer a possibility, and many of my close friends already recognize that a career in the field of their educational background will never enable them to pay off their outstanding student loans.
As a result, college graduates are considering career alternatives, and high school graduates are considering educational and career paths that have superior cost-benefit outcomes such as skilled trades. Additionally, the stigma of “getting dirty and working with your hands” is eroding and being replaced with a fear of sitting in front of a computer all day. For me, the economic argument described above is best exemplified by one of my closest friends who crumpled up his undergraduate degree to take a job as an HVAC technician to get out from behind a computer monitor and increase his income.
Hiring With the Digital Wrap
This economic forecast is great news for service contractors, but these changes will be slow and they don’t address your immediate need for great technicians. You can easily find a host of blogs and articles that will teach you the ins and outs of “outbound” recruiting with Craigslist, LinkedIn, online forums, and industry associations. So, instead, I wanted to help you with your “inbound” recruiting efforts via your digital wrap and online reputation.
Aside from job boards, Google is the first place skilled laborers go when hunting for a position at a new company. Just like your potential customers, they are using a keyword combination of industry and city that looks something like this:
- “HVAC company Raleigh”
- “Fire inspection company Durham”
- “Hood cleaning company Cary”
And, much like your potential customers, your prospective employees will find, and initially judge, your company based on its Google search ranking. Afterall, Google tends to return relevant results for our other searches, right?
Once potential employees find your website, will they be impressed by your professionalism and reputation? A well-thought-out website is critical in convincing prospects of any type that you are a good fit based on multiple factors. Here is a quick checklist you can use to determine if your website is helping or hindering your hiring efforts:
- Modern – Your website is mobile-friendly and is backed by a common content management system that is easy to use and update such as WordPress.
- Location – Your office location(s) and coverage area are obvious.
- Offerings – There is no question about what services you provide and who your customer is.
- Expertise – It is obvious that you are an expert in your domain because you have a page on your website for every service you provide that accurately explains how you perform the service.
- Customer Reviews – It is obvious that you can be trusted based on your high volume of great, real customer reviews.
Finally, after making your company easy to find and putting your best foot forward with a great website, ensure that your website has an obvious section for candidates to learn more about working at your company. This section should help future employees qualify themselves and make it easy for them to provide you with their information. As a general rule of thumb, keep the webform down to a minimum to prevent dropoff. Name, phone number, and email address should be more than enough to continue the conversation.
Don’t Worry, It’s Easy
If any of this website functionality or search engine optimization is beyond your skillset, never fear! ServiceTrade is here to help you out. By applying a digital wrap and turning your every-day service activities into digital artifacts that engage your customers and prospective employees, you will set yourself apart from the competition. ServiceTrade can help you create an online presence that attracts both new customers and future employees.