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What are the best practices for recruiting and hiring HVAC technicians?
HVAC recruiting goes beyond the technical skills a job requires. It means making an investment in establishing and maintaining a company culture.
Hiring technicians includes introducing them to that culture. Evaluate your culture carefully to determine which job candidates fit best.
When deciding how to recruit HVAC technicians, keep the application process in mind. Where you place the ad and how you write the job post prove critical.
Keep mobile ad formats in mind when you look to hire HVAC technicians.
We’ve already explored the home services staffing crisis on this blog, including how it could impact HVAC staffing at heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration companies across the country. Capable, reliable technicians provide extreme value to HVAC businesses. The sharp decrease in young workers entering the trades and the large number of older workers about to retire serve as evidence of the struggles companies face in HVAC recruiting.
That means HVAC companies must be smart about their recruiting process. Below, we look at seven steps HVAC businesses can take to re-examine the hiring process and how to recruit HVAC technicians, so they can find and attract the best workers out there.
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1. Examine your company culture before hiring technicians.
When approaching the HVAC recruiting process, it's easy to assume that, because you have a paying position available, you're the one who needs to be impressed by a job candidate to complete the process. While that's true, many businesses forget candidates are also evaluating places to work—and they want to be impressed, too.
This is especially true in the skilled trades, where there is a cutthroat poaching culture. Experienced, reliable technicians remain a scarce commodity as competitors regularly snatch valuable workers from each other when hiring technicians by offering incremental pay increases and attractive benefits. Retention of the best candidates can become a challenge.
The only way to avoid this compensation bidding war when you hire HVAC technicians is to offer potential (and current) employees a rich company culture that compels them to invest in your brand and—simultaneously—their own future in the company. This is especially true of young people entering the workforce, who have consistently shown they prefer flexibility and purpose over promotions and higher paychecks.
"I think attracting and keeping employees is just like attracting new customers and keeping existing ones,” says Tom Howard, vice president of customer experience at ServiceTitan and co-founder of the consulting group Blue Collar Profits LLC.
Before joining ServiceTitan, Howard served as president and co-owner of Lee’s Air, a leading HVAC and plumbing service provider in Fresno, Calif., and owned several other service companies.
“Unfortunately in our industry, we spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to sell air conditioners and get more customers, but we don’t realize we should be spending the same amount of time marketing to new employees and our existing employees to keep them,” Howard says.
2. When evaluating your company culture, consider these questions:
What is our company's mission?
What are our company's values?
How do we practice those values?
How do we distinguish ourselves from the competition?
What role do we play in the community?
Do we set goals as a team?
Do we celebrate as a team when we hit goals?
Do we enact policies that respect our employees' lives outside of work (PTO, sick time, maternity, benefits, etc.)?
Does our team have adequate access to management if they need to talk?
Do our employees have a path for further achievement once they're hired?
Ultimately, the goal is to envision and offer a job that the best candidates will want to apply for and keep. To prepare, speak to your top employees and learn about their impressions of where your company excels and what can be done to improve the culture.
3. Write a compelling HVAC job ad post.
What goes into a great HVAC recruiting job listing when you have a full-time job to offer? Less than you think. Ryan Koehler, CEO of ApplicantPro, touched on keeping job ads brisk during an exclusive 2018 ServiceTitan webinar.
“The goal of a job ad is to convince a job seeker to apply for the job,” Koehler says. “That is the goal. It's not a list of your demands.”
Whether you post your ad on Craigslist, LinkedIn or another job listing aggregator, remember this: Job searching is a grueling process and your HVAC job ad offers the first impression qualified candidates get of your company. Do you want to post a litany of requirements and come off as a demanding, unconcerned employer—or entice applicants to learn more about an excellent job opportunity?
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4. When writing your HVAC technician job ad, remember:
Try to stay as brief as possible.
Limit applicant parameters to the minimum requirements.
Mention employee benefits and highlight perks that set you apart.
Give an impression of your current company culture.
Use different avenues and platforms to spread the word.
Once you've written a job ad you're comfortable with, you probably already have a few ideas where to post it. Most job-hunting occurs on the internet now, so if you're planning to post your ad seeking HVAC techs or installers on big job boards hubs such as ZipRecruiter, Indeed, and Monster, you're on the right track.
However, while these kinds of websites tend to generate a lot of applicants, they don't necessarily produce a lot of actual hires. Instead, more localized word-of-mouth promotion tends to be more effective when hiring technicians. If your company uses social media, for instance, posting a link to your job ad on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram alerts an audience that already trusts and engages with your brand that you're hiring—and news will travel fast.
Better yet, encourage or incentivize employee referrals as part of your HVAC recruiting. Referrals provide an extremely effective stream of job applicants, because trusted employees help you select who might be the right fit for an HVAC technician job. This also means your employees work as evangelists for your company, letting promising applicants know the benefits of working for your company.
5. Make it simple to apply for an HVAC job at your company.
Whether you’re asking for in-person applications or using an online form for applicants, you want to adhere to one central principle: Make it simple. As we mentioned, job seekers face a grueling process, and the last thing you want to do is turn off top talent with an overly complicated, confrontational, or inconvenient submission process.
Consider the growing importance of mobile devices, especially among young people, to the HVAC recruiting process:
78 percent of Millennials search for jobs on a mobile device.
73 percent of Gen-X job seekers search for jobs on a mobile device.
57 percent of Baby Boomers search for jobs on a mobile device.
That means you want to keep your application process simple and easy to access online, at their convenience. Koehler recommends keeping an online application process to three minutes or less. Forgo asking for too much information upfront—Social Security numbers and references can wait—and if you use a questionnaire, keep it to five or fewer yes-or-no questions.
6. Be strategic about where you post HVAC job ads.
Consider posting on websites dedicated specifically to hiring technicians. The following sites may provide the perfect place to post your ad:
Direct Recruiters Inc. is an executive search firm.
Gary Richards Associates focuses on HVAC recruiting.
HVAC contractors reveal their suggestions here.
Karen Schaper founded Schaper Associates, which offers a recruiting service for the HVAC industry called HVAC Headhunters.
Still not sure how to approach your HVAC recruiting? Core Matters specializes in helping businesses market their HVAC hiring efforts.
7. Build community relationships to find the best HVAC hires.
Ron Smith, an HVAC consultant and coaching pioneer who’s owned 24 HVAC companies at various times during his career, suggests beginning the HVAC recruiting process at local schools.
“Form a relationship with the leaders of your community’s high schools and vocational schools, and ask if you can speak to the students in group sessions,” says Smith, author of the bestselling book HVAC Spells. “After building relationships, these groups are more likely to keep you in mind when they graduate from school and are looking for jobs. Your education will help them understand the employment opportunities available in the HVAC industry and can assist in your recruiting efforts.”
Smith also suggests creating your own job fair to recruit HVAC technicians, offering referral bonuses to current employees, and advertising job openings on your tech trucks, among other more conventional options.
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