Technician Recruitment

Technician Recruitment

Notes from the TMC Fall Meeting

Notes from the TMC Fall Meeting

At the TMC Fall meeting this past September, I extended my stay to take in the last session of the program, “Effective Employee Recruitment and Reten-ions Strategies.” The presenter was Mel Kleiman, president of Humetrics, an international recruiting, selection and retention consulting firm, and author of Hire Tough; Manage Easy, a best-selling book on the topic.

It was unfortunate that, due to its placement in the program, many fleet managers had left the meeting to return home. They missed Kleiman’s informative, insightful and entertaining perspective on the subject generally and his input about the challenges of recruiting qualified service technicians specifically.

Previously, I’ve discussed this subject at some length in this column, particularly as it related to new or inexperienced technicians, but (let’s face it) we can’t always afford to wait for the development time for this approach. From time to time, we need qualified, productive technicians to get the job done.

Listening to Kleiman reinforced the concept that recruiting qualified employees is more of a process than a project or a task. A project, characteristically, has a starting and an ending point and, typically, is temporary in nature.

If you wait until you have an opening or other need, you are more likely going to be limiting yourself to selecting from candidates who ‘need’ a job. The most qualified candidate is likely not in the job market but, rather, currently employed.

On the other hand, if you are constantly and systematically looking for qualified technicians, you are much more likely to find them when you need them. Or, as Kleiman might have phrased it, if you are looking for eagles, you are less likely to end up with turkeys.

Boiled down to its essence, this recruitment process is pure marketing – mixing product, pricing, place and promotion. Your product (the job) and pricing (its compensation) are the end game. The process is creating the right messages and delivering them to the places where you are most likely to attract the right people. However, in our business, fleet managers are typically better technicians than they are marketers.

The strongest message you can develop is: “This is a place where you want to work.” Again, with credit to Kleiman, “…people join companies; they leave managers.” If you can successfully create an environment/culture that values the individual contributions of your people, this message will be a direct outcome. This is, in itself, another process that lies beyond the scope of this column.

The next recruitment challenge is delivering this message to targeted audiences. Should you wrap it into a classified ad, for example? Who will you reach with that medium? Of course, the answer to that question is: “people looking for a job.” Does that group include the qualified technician you need? Maybe. But, more likely, that person is not in the job market because, if he or she truly is ‘qualified,’ he or she is currently employed. Yet, how many times are the classified ad departments of local publications one of the first calls we make when we have an opening to fill?

So, how do you reach the qualified technician? The short answer, says Kleiman, is referrals. And, he goes further to specify some promising sources, including people who have left or are leaving your company, new hires and existing employees.

There is far more to the process suggested here than can be developed here, but with one final nod to Kleiman’s expertise, I will close with this kernel: “Make it easy to get into your system, but if you don’t make your job hard to get, it has no value.”

Chuck Roberts is ASE’s executive director of industry relations.

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