As seen in the February 2007 edition of HVACR Business magazine.

13 Methods — Some You Probably Aren’t Using

Recruiting is the practice of getting people interested in working at your company. Recruiting people is totally different than hiring them; however, you can’t hire them if you don’t recruit them. Recruiting is the first step in properly staffing a company.

In last month’s column, I said that I have experience in 15 different methods of recruiting and elaborated on two: newspaper classified ads and newspaper display ads. In this column, I will elaborate on the other 13 methods. You probably are not using many of them. And, I’ll bet you have not even thought of all of them.

Co-worker rewards. This is one of my favorite methods, and I have used it very successfully in my own contracting companies as well as recommended it with good results to many consulting clients. Basically, encourage your present co workers to help you find new ones. The money you normally would spend in newspapers and other methods of recruiting is spent on your own co-workers, keeping it “within the team.” An added benefit is that I’ve found co-workers to be selective in whom they recommend.

Many contractors using this method pay their co-workers $1,000 or more for a new hire. If that sounds like a lot of money, remember you pay only when you get a qualified candidate that you hire. As you well know, you can spend $1,000 or more very quickly in a newspaper classified ad and often get no candidates. Or you might get one or more candidates, but no hiring decision. With this method, you pay only when a recommended candidate is hired. Make certain that the reward conditions are well understood. For example, set a minimum employment of 90 days.

Military. The military always has a job-information program, although it sometimes changes. Go online and search operation transition. Job openings can be posted on a worldwide electronic bulletin board, making them available to all military personnel preparing to be discharged.

Truck signs. A few years ago this was a new recruiting idea. Now it is not unusual to see a truck pass by with a recruiting message on back of it. Often, it says something similar to: Openings for experienced HVAC technicians, phone (company’s number).

Your Web site. If you already have a Web site, and certainly you should, why not include recruiting information? It’s just one more method with no additional cost.

Job fairs. Some companies conduct job fairs regularly. I visited a consulting client in Florida that holds a company job fair about every six months with good results. They promote the event with radio ads and at local supply houses. Installers and service technicians attend the evening function, held in the company’s facilities, and enjoy hot dogs, hamburgers, and soft drinks while a representative makes a presentation and tries to generate enthusiasm for the company’s job opportunities. Interested candidates can meet with a company representative before leaving.

Job-placement Web sites. There are several of these sites, and a few are appropriate for our industry; and

Auto, truck, boat trader, and career magazines. You see these free magazines on racks in grocery and convenience stores. Many people read these, particularly younger adults. Some, not all, have a classified section for employment.

Vocational schools. It is an excellent practice to establish a relationship with the vocational/technical schools in your area, both with the adult groups and high school students. Get to know the instructors and ask for the opportunity to speak to the students about the industry. You also can donate equipment, both used and new. Although you cannot openly recruit, you can certainly establish yourself as an authority and in your talks refer to your company. It is a casual method of recruiting.

Other trades. I have enjoyed good success recruiting experienced electricians to my companies and then teaching them the required hvac skills to be high-performing installers and service technicians. The result is a good hvac co-worker with accomplished electrical skills.

Trade journals. These have worked fairly well for me and apparently for some others as they commonly are used. There are many regional and national hvac publications that you can use to recruit.

Out-of-town newspapers. The U.S. Department of Commerce can provide information enabling you to identify areas of the country that are economically depressed. Often, people from the areas are considering a relocation. I’ve done this several times with mixed results. It’s worth a try.

Supply houses. This is one of the reasons why we figured out how to get necessary parts without our service technicians going to a supply house. Recruiting, even in a casual manner, is quite common there. Although my techs did not go to supply houses, except in very rare instances, I recruited there by posting attractive ads in the stores.

Radio and television. Although I have run radio ads several different times, the results often were not good. However, many companies use this method. Television, a very powerful medium, works well but is expensive unless you can use a local cable provider. One of my consulting clients has had good success with this method. It presented the company so well, it not only attracted some new hires, but new customers as well, a pleasant surprise for the company.