As local markets gather steam to join the nation's nascent housing rebound, you may consider adding a few more employees to your roster. Bill Tucker, an account executive at Charlotte, N.C.-based executive recruiting firm Schaffer Associates and past president of the Florida Building Material Dealers Association, advises on who you're likely to bring on and how to help them thrive in your organization. Here's what he had to say:
Little in the Middle. There are not a lot of trained employees on the market right now. We see the boomers retiring, and that’s going to leave some openings. But many companies laid off mid-level management during the downturn. They’re gone and they’re not coming back. It’s not a big market out there to find good candidates. We’re working twice as hard to find half as many people and spending a lot of time looking at our clients’ competitors.
Know Who You Want. Think about what you sell and who you want to sell it to. Instead of just having a job description, develop a job profile. That profile should include training, education, experience, and any other qualities that are necessary to do the job. Develop that profile and hire to it. Usually our clients start putting it together—focusing on what they sell and who they want to sell to—and sometimes that changes the expectations of what they’re looking for.
Where To Find Workers. If you’re only recruiting in your market, you’re likely doing nothing more than exchanging employees with your competitors. Think about ways to make that pond larger. Bite the bullet and train new people, and consider relocations—especially for your branch managers and C-level officers. Dealers need to open up to offering more competitive benefits and look for new hires over a larger area.
Out with the Old? Because we let the middle level go, we lost a number of older workers who would otherwise be training new hires. A large part of moving up in this industry is through mentoring. Bring some of those older guys back on 1099 (independent contractors). They’ll spend two days a week in the business—mentoring, training, working—because who we’re going to be hiring now are in their 20s and early 30s. We've got to recruit them, which isn't easy. Once you get them in you've got to train them and mentor them. And they’re looking for that. “Generation Y” is looking for people to teach them, to bring them along.
The Ones You’re Calling Wild … Back in Roman times there was a chariot maker who said, "My dad just won’t listen to me," and the dad said, "My son is just worthless—that worthless generation." There’s a lot of that still going on and it’s easy to generalize. But individuals now in their 20s are soon going to be your customers. And their expectations of your company—not only as an employee but also as a supplier—will be different. They’re going to know more about your company before they walk in the door than you probably know about them right now.
Be Tech Savvy. We’re becoming more of a technological industry and we have to invest in education. As an industry we’re going to have to put those expenses forward. Next-generation groups, trade associations, co-ops, everybody is going to have to invest in training. Doing more with less isn't a long-term employment strategy.