Finding labor has been difficult for everyone. Traditional means of hiring haven’t been as successful in recent years as they were in the past and adjusting the way you hire may be the solution.

This NARI lesson comes from Vicki Suiter, president and CEO of Suiter Business Builders, who has been in the business of helping contractors and designers build solid foundations for their businesses since 1990. She conducted a webinar on the topic of, “Where to Find Your Next Great Hire.” The webinar, which can be found at, formed the basis of this article.

Finding Qualified Candidates

One thing we can all agree on is that finding qualified candidates can be challenging, and it’s frustrating when the traditional ways of finding people just don’t seem to be working. In addition, there are fewer young people coming into the trades.

As a result, it has fallen on contractors and remodelers to find new and different ways to find candidates. Therefore, how can we be creative and think outside the box about how we find and recruit employees?

Being Creative

I look at recruiting a lot like building a sales pipeline to your business. The more you have focus about what you’re looking for in terms of projects, the more likely you are to actually find those types of projects that are best suited for you. Well, the same thing is true when you’re looking for an employee. The part about setting goals has to do with having a job description first that clearly outlines: What do I want that person to do in that job? What are the skills and qualifications that I am looking for?

One of the reasons this is really important, besides the obvious of needing to give somebody a description of the job, is that not everyone has the same definition for the same job titles. I have noticed that if I ask five contractors what a project manager means to them, I can get five different answers about what that position is in their company.

Therefore, you might have an idea of what you’re looking for when you post a title, but who shows up may not necessarily be the best candidate. The clearer you are about what you’re looking for, the easier the process of finding the right person for that job will be.

Having the Right Mindset

When you think about a mindset in sales, it has to do with realizing that when you’re selling, you’re not just out there hawking your wares. You’re not trying to get somebody to buy something that they don’t want or don’t need. What you’re doing is solving a problem for somebody, and you’re helping them create a solution that will help them get what they want.

As human beings, our fundamental desire in life is to have a sense of contribution, belonging and mattering. We want to feel like what we do is valued. Remember that as you begin to go out and do recruiting and hiring of people, especially when you’re thinking, Oh, but they’re in another job, why would they want to come work for me? keep in mind the opportunity you’re giving someone is the opportunity to be valued for their contribution and to bring more to you and your organization and make a contribution in a greater way.

Best Practices

When you’re looking for someone, as with the process of making connections in sales, referrals are golden. It’s a really easy win because when that person comes to you as a referral, you already come with credibility. And you never know who knows somebody who might be looking.

A great way that I’ve seen be very effective is instituting an employee referral problem. The thing about this is your employees want to work with people they know, like and trust—people they can count on. So, they’re going to have a tendency to not serve up people who are mediocre because they don’t want to work with mediocre people.

Vocational schools and colleges are an awesome way to tap into the younger generation of people coming into the trades. You’re not going to find someone who is an estimator, but it’s a great place to start building those connections with schools and being able to help in starting to build the next generation of contractors.

Online posting is a great resource and tends to be the traditional place where people look for jobs. Here are other ways to tap into places specifically targeting the construction industry. Better Teams is a website that has a section specifically for posting about construction positions. When posting to LinkedIn, you’re not going to find a laborer, but you will find an office manager, a controller, an estimator or a project manager.

Traditionally, headhunters are hired through an agency that charges 20 to 25 percent of a position’s annual salary to do a recruiting process. They have access to a backdoor on Facebook and LinkedIn that you and I don’t have access to, and they pay a lot of money to be able to do very targeted searched to find candidates to fill your position. Headhunters can be really good for more senior positions because you don’t have somebody who is out there looking for a job; you want somebody who is in a job that’s looking for a better opportunity for themselves.

Finally, you should be posting your open positions to your website. Anyone whom you’ve networked with, or any warm lead who’s heard of you is likely to check out your website and having an open positions section lets them know you’re actively hiring. QR

Vicki Suiter is a business coach, trainer, national speaker and author. To receive CEUs from NARI, take the quiz at, then email Heidi Riedl at NARI will notify you of any CEUs earned.

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