Bring Your Next Employee In-House After a Visit Online

The Internet has replaced newspapers as the best resource for finding quality employees. It's where the people are, and where you need to go to find them.

Everyone knows that good employees are hard to find. Ironically, in this era of “information overload,” it may be harder than ever. Why? Because potential employees have so many more ways to spend their time than ever before. The audience for your call for help isn't just reading the newspaper, as previous generations did. They're online, using the Internet to get their news and information. They're also using the web for social networking — and that includes job hunting.

So while it's logical to assume that you can find talented young employees online, the Internet is a huge place. Where do you start? How do you reach the people you want to reach?

At E. Smith Heating & Air Conditioning, we still use all the traditional methods of recruitment, such as newspaper ads, recruiting from technical schools, word of mouth, and more. We've also found the Internet to be a valuable resource in obtaining good employees. Our Internet recruitment program holds some lessons for other contractors: how you can create such a program, what expectations you should have, and how to avoid some pitfalls.

Have a Plan

Setting up an Internet recruitment program is like any other venture you undertake in your business. Approach the process as you would any other project. That means you must:

  • Set goals
  • Determine your budget
  • Put together a plan
  • Execute the plan
  • Evaluate the results.

The goal is straightforward enough: Finding a quality employee — or, identifying a steady source of quality employees, if your company's growth calls for that.

Budgeting and planning are a little trickier. While your own company's website is a low-cost option to place recruitment ads, it may not be your best choice. How would you get people to go to your site to find your ad?

That's why you may want to consider Internet job boards, such as Monster, Career Builder, Hot Jobs, etc. We've found that such sites usually charge anywhere from nothing to $400 for a 60-day ad placement. That's still a good deal when you consider that a good-sized newspaper classified ad can cost up to $1,000 per day, and recruiting services can charge 20% to 50% of annual salary of each employee they provide.

Find a Niche

We have had our best success using “niche” boards that specialize in the HVAC industry. Sites like MEPjobs.com and HVACagent.com are targeted to our industry, and will give you much better results than a non-targeted board.

In addition to posting the job description itself, you can include a list of specific criteria related to the job, and most sites allow the candidate to fill out an application on-line. The list of criteria serves two purposes: it can get the right people fired-up about the great opportunity they've discovered, and it may help weed-out people who aren't quite as good of a fit.

MEPjobs.com has a feature called the “Talent Alert” which will notify you by e-mail of potential candidates in your area that meet your requirements, even if you don't have an active job posting. We have hired several good employees who came to us in this way.

Within your recruitment ad, you'll want to include a profile of your company, and a link to your company's website. Remember, you're selling yourself and your company to good candidates just as much as they are selling themselves to you. Don't rely just on your local reputation, candidates from across the country may see your posting and check your company out. Make sure your profile and website represent you well.

Try the Sites Out Yourself

Be careful when listing your job on job boards. Make sure you're placing yourself in the right area. Some sites break out HVAC-specific jobs, others list them all under a broader mechanical/electrical/plumbing category. So, look before you list! Try out the sites you are considering. Search for a job in your area and see what results come back. If a site is hard to navigate for you, it will be for job seekers, too.

After you've selected a site and posted your job opening, you may be surprised how quickly you will have applicants responding. Now you have to use your instincts to go through and decide which ones seem to best fit your profile. If you are not getting the type candidates you hoped for, you may want to review and revise your job posting criteria to narrow the field.

Now that you've candidates lined up at your virtual door, deciding which one is the right person for the job is still up to you. But, hopefully, the Internet has connected you with talent that you never would have had access to before.

Over the past decade, the Internet has become the number one source of information and research in the world. It's where the people are. If you want to find them, it's where you need to go.

Barry Abernathy is president of E. Smith Heating & Cooling, a $13 million commercial Design/Build, service and retrofit company in Marietta, GA. He can be reached at 770/422-1900 or by e-mail at [email protected].

This article is based on the presentation “Using the Internet to Find Employees,” which Barry Abernathy presented during HVAC Comfortech 2008 in Atlanta, GA HVAC Comfortech 2009 — Grow. Succeed. Dominate.will be presented Sept. 23-26, 2009 in Nashville, TN. EARLY BIRD SPECIALS apply. Visit www.hvaccomfortech.com.

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