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Finding the right people has been one of the toughest challenges we’ve faced running our plumbing business.

You need more staff to grow your business, but you can’t just pick anyone – the right person needs to fit with your values and get on with your existing team.

I’ve found through experience that the best way to recruit plumbers is to work the way a professional recruiter would.

Write the job description

Start by searching for the job on indeed and gather up examples of job adverts for the the job role you’re looking to fill.

Take a note of the titles of the job adverts, the pay level and the similarities between ads.

Use several examples to help you create your own job description.

Make sure you include these key things:

  • Job Advert Title – Try to name the job the way the people you’re looking for would search for it.
  • Purpose of the job – A summary of what the role involves
  • What / who you’re looking for – Characteristics (e.g. hardworking, enthusiastic), specific qualifications etc
  • What the successful candidate will receive – What staff benefits can you offer?
  • A summary of your company values / brief history – You’re selling the idea of working your company but don’t over-egg it or make any false promises
  • Call to action – What should they do if they’re interested? Call you? Send their CV? I would recommend a simple “Send your CV and a covering letter, or give us a call.”

 

Advertise the Job

Try to identify where your ideal candidate might be looking:

  • Advertise on indeed.com – you can start with a free job listing & upgrade to a paid listing later if you feel it’s necessary.
  • Advertise the role on your website.
  • Advertise on both your company and personal social media channels – e.g. facebook, twitter, linkedin, google+, pinterest.
  • Approach local colleges – they might have physical or website job boards. They may even offer to circulate details of your vacancy around the college.
  • Local plumbers merchants also sometimes have notice boards – you can try dropping in with leaflets or emailing them with a job advert.
  • Gumtree have a jobs section that you can use to advertise for a small fee.
  • Community websites – eg nextdoor.co.uk These are good for finding people who are local.
  • LinkedIn – either use paid job listings or post the advert on your company linkedin page.
  • Ask your existing staff to mention the role to their friends and wider circle – they’re likely to have friends with similar interests.

 

Shortlist Applicants

Once you have some applications, you’re going to want to go through and filter them.

The last time I advertised for a trainee plumber on indeed, I had over 150 applications – that’s a lot of sifting!

I recommend the following process:

  • Don’t believe people who tell you they’re happy to relocate ‘anywhere’. Even if they mean it at the time, the reality of relocating or commuting every day quickly loses it’s novelty. They’ll quit before you can say “Here’s your first pay cheque”
  • When shortlisting applicants, only interview the ones that look interesting – reject the rest.
  • Hold a 10 – 15 minute telephone interview. Your time is precious, so you want to be sure that anyone you take the time to meet in person can string a sentence together. It’s surprising how much you can learn about someone with a few minutes on the phone.
    • You can use an appointment tool like Calendly to send candidates a link. This allows them to choose their own appointment times, based on your availability. This means that they’re more likely to have time to speak to you when you call.
    • Anyone that doesn’t do what you ask them to do at this point can be rejected on the basis that they’re not good at taking instruction, so it works as another test / hurdle for you to check to see they’re going to be right for your business.
  • Ask candidates why they’ve applied to a position with your company – you want to know that they’ve bothered to do some research about your firm.
  • Ask them if they have any questions for you. If they have no questions for you whatsoever, this also indicates a lack of interest / preparation.
  • Shortlist again based on their telephone interview and invite the shortlisted candidates to a face-to-face interview.
  • Keep conversations about the money you’re looking to offer quite vague, but try find out the minimum amount they’d be prepared to accept. You can use this to remove any candidates who have unrealistic salary expectations from the process as they’ll ultimately not be happy with what you may be offering.

Invite for Interview

If you have a company office, hold interviews there. This gives your potential candidates a chance to try out the commute. They also get a feel for the environment they could be working in.

Make sure they understand both the good and bad points of working for your company.

For example, if you plan to ask your candidate to work very long hours as part of the job, they need to understand this before they accept. If you try to hide it, they’ll find out when they start and then quit within a few weeks or months. You’ll then have to start the process again which is a waste of everyone’s time and money.

Make your offer

Select your first and second choice candidates. Make your offer to your first choice candidate and give them a specific amount of time in which to consider the offer and come back to you.

Don’t reject your second choice until you’ve received a decision from the first.

Rejecting unsuccessful candidates

Be polite throughout the process.  You’re an ambassador for your company. Don’t forget that your applicants have families and friends that could be your customers, either now or in the future.

Take the time to thank them for their application and where possible give them a reason for why you won’t be taking their application further.

Offer to keep their details on file – just because they’re not right for this job, doesn’t mean they won’t be right for another position in the future.

In Summary

  • Use existing job adverts to help you write a great job description for your role.
  • Initially shortlist applicants based on their CVs and covering letters.
  • Perform telephone interviews with your shortlisted candidates.
  • Shortlist again, rejecting anyone who’s phone interview didn’t go well.
  • Invite the remaining candidates to a face-to-face interview.
  • Select your first and second choice candidates.
  • Offer the job!

 

 

Have you got any recruitment tips for other plumbing companies? Any nightmare recruitment experiences?  What are your biggest challenges when looking for new staff?