I speak with North American HVAC client’s everyday and regardless of whether they are located in Florida, Texas, California, New York, Massachusetts, Ontario, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Alberta, or P.E.I, the one common issue they all lament is: the skilled trades shortage of experienced HVAC Technicians.
While this is not ground breaking news and generally common knowledge, what is surprising is the lack of change in companies outdated hiring practices. With such a high demand for qualified and experienced HVAC techs and a shortage of available talent, traditional HR lengthy and time consuming processes are killing deals and just not up to today’s reality. In the current competitive field, companies and employers, you need to streamline your hiring process to effectively fill your hiring needs and give potential employees a positive experience. Below are some successful hiring strategies we have found companies are using:
- Reduce the # of Steps
- Avoid the Fluff
- Be Decisive
- Use a Niche HVAC Recruiter
REDUCE the NUMBER of STEPS
Unless you are hiring for a senior level management position, gone are the days of having a 3+ interviewing process, especially when hiring HVAC Technicians, Installers, Fitters, Sheet Metal Workers, Dispatchers, Service Coordinators, or Parts People. Realistically, companies should have no more than two steps:
- Phone Interview: Use the initial contact to quickly assess their interest in your position and if they have the skills and experience you need so as not to waste either of your time.
Reiterate what the position is, your shop location and geographic service coverage, shift, wages and overall compensation package, and the type of HVAC equipment and systems they would be working on. Candidates often apply to multiple jobs simultaneously and will not remember each specific position or blindly apply for jobs without reading the full job ad.
During this stage, find out why they are looking to leave their current or left their last place of employment, what industry licenses/certifications they currently have – including ensuring they have a valid driver’s license and clean driving record, and review their overall experience and skill set (i.e. type of equipment, scope of experience, industry training etc.).
If there is an application or background consent form required if hired, let the candidate know you are emailing this and ask them to bring it in completed when they come for the scheduled in-person interview. If applicable and where possible, you should advise the candidate to be prepared to complete a medical or drug test following their in-person interview.
- In-person Interview: Be flexible to meet with the potential hire outside of ‘normal’ business hours and days to help eliminate raising red flags to their current employer or affect their work.
Ensure anyone who is responsible in the hiring decision (i.e. Service/Install Manager, Owner, Operations Manager, etc.) and where possible, a senior technician, is available and present at the in-person interview. This way all parties –employer and candidate- can assess the ‘fit’, ask in-depth technical questions, and determine long term goals. Having candidates come back multiple times because not all decision makers were available is not only time consuming, but it’s not feasible for working candidates who have to take time off work to meet. Not to mention, it makes potential employees question why a company cannot trust the decision of the manager/supervisor who was present at the interview.
As mentioned above, if time permits and you know you want to move forward with the hire, have the potential technician complete any physical, medical, or drug screen required following the interview as it could take a couple of days to get results. I have several clients that do this, which has really helped cut down on the time to hire.
AVOID the FLUFF
It’s long past time to eliminate the use of behavioral and/or personality assessments as tools in your hiring process. This is an HR practice not relevant to skilled trades hiring; nor does it accurately determine the success or longevity of the potential candidate. It’s an extra unnecessary step to the hiring process that can turn off candidates and needlessly adds more time.
Time kills deals…and hires! Too often, I see potential hires fall through because of the length of time it takes to make a decision and when they finally do, the candidate is no longer available. In this tight market, employers should be able to come to a decision within 24-48 hours. It’s easy to get caught up in the need to have choices or be caught in the ‘what if’ scenarios: what if someone better comes along and applies; what if s/he doesn’t work out; what if they can’t up sell, etc. If there were tons of available talent, you would not be struggling to hire and build your team. The grass is not always greener – don’t hold out on a great hire with a current candidate for the sake of waiting for more candidates simply to compare. You’ll end up with nobody and your business and service will continue to suffer.
Use your assessment notes from the interviews, trust your instincts, and where necessary, complete references to be decisive and make a decision. You can roll out a job offer of employment and make it contingent on references and/or background checks, without the risk of losing out on a potential hire due to length of time.
USE a NICHE HVAC RECRUITER
Partnering with a contingency recruitment firm that specializes in the residential, industrial, and commercial HVAC trade, such as Rockstar HVAC, helps streamline your hiring process, reduces the clutter and ‘noise’ in your inbox from filling up with unqualified resumes, and enables you to focus on your bottom line. An experienced recruiter will only present qualified candidates based on your hiring requirements along with an assessment of their skill set and, experience, wage requirements, and why they are looking to leave. In addition, a niche recruiter can quickly coordinate interviews as well as complete references and background checks, such as driving or criminal background checks.
For more hiring tips or if you require help with any of your HVAC hiring needs, contact Rockstar HVAC toll free at 1-833-937-3546 or email us at [email protected].