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Places You Might Have Overlooked When Searching For Workers

One of the biggest headaches contractors face, especially when they're a non-union shop, is finding and hiring good help. If that's the case, the following suggestions could be a life saver for you.

by Ron Roberts, "The Contractors' Coach

Ron Roberts, The Contractor's Business Coach

With most sweeping contractors, their struggles typically generate from three obstacles:

  1. Providing full time work.
  2. Getting the word out to potential candidates.
  3. Can't afford proven, skilled workers.

Let's take each one at a time and explore solutions.

1. Providing Full Time Work

Most workers keep very close track of the hours they work. Hours are about the most important issue to them. Depending upon the circumstances, these can be much more so than the hourly pay. If you want to be able to bring in and retain good workers, your task will be much easier if you manage to get them close to 2,000 hours a year.

You do that by aggressively marketing and selling your services.

If you need tips on how to market and sell, read my report (10 Biggest Mistakes Contractors Make and How to Correct Them) or contact me via telephone or email. Back to our topic.

In cold weather states, many sweeping companies have trouble getting their workers 2,000 hours because their work requires good weather. In cold weather states, the construction season is pretty short and there isn't much you can do about it.

If you find yourself in that situation, you need to find temporary winter work for your key workers. That way they can afford to work for you during the season.

You might want to provide snow plowing and snow removal, tenant move-out services or try to find another company whose seasonal work is the exact opposite of yours. They are not easy to find, but some are out there.

2. Getting the Word Out to Potential Candidates

If you struggle generating interest in your job openings, you probably are using the most common methods of publicizing your opening: newspaper help wanted classifieds and the online job search services such as

There are two problems with those approaches. The first is that your ad competes against your competitors' ads. The second is that many construction workers do not read the local newspaper. Here are some out-of-the-box suggestions for you to try.

Right at the moment, one of the best places to find workers is on a web site named Craig's List ( Craig's List is meant to be an online classified section and it is used primarily to sell used stuff, like furniture and household goods. However, it also has a Jobs section. The Jobs section has a category for skilled labor, which for the most part is a listing of open construction-related positions. Unbelievably, the job listings are FREE and the responses tend to be HUGE.

A handful of my clients have used the service recently and enjoyed spectacular results. They were flooded with quality candidates. The responses far exceeded the numbers and quality they were receiving from traditional, high cost help wanted ads. Apparently, younger workers have flocked to Craig's List to find jobs. Since results are listed by date, to maximize the effectiveness of your Craig's List ad, you need to update it daily. That keeps the ad at the top of the list and easy to spot.

If you are open to using Hispanic workers, which you should be, go visit their community churches and let it be known that you have openings. Often, churches know of young adults who are looking for a chance to prove themselves - a chance to better their lives through hard work.

Another proven approach is to place a help wanted ad in the local Hispanic newspaper. You will probably enjoy far better results than by placing a help wanted ad in your local big city paper.

Another place to network into is local high schools and vocational schools. They are jam-packed with young men who have no interest in going to college and no longer find the military to be an attractive option. Get to know the vo-tech teachers. They will point graduates in your direction once they know you are an upstanding businessman.

Other options are to scout out your competition. Watch them work. Do that cautiously. You don't want to start a labor war but, on the other hand, unless you are going to hire inexperienced workers, you are stealing your workers from someone else anyway. It's like the Godfather said "take it to the mat." You're in competition for both good clients and good workers. You'd better embrace the fight. Otherwise, you will never achieve financial security.

3. Can't Afford Proven, Skilled Workers

Be prepared to train your new workers and foremen. If you are a small contractor you've probably already learned how difficult it is to recruit and pay for highly experienced workers. If they are available and interested in working for you, they usually bring either heavy wage demands or heavy personal baggage. Those that are experienced and don't have baggage are almost always gainfully employed and not easily pried away from their current company.

As a small contractor, you need to focus on finding eager to learn, hard working employees. Then mold them in the image that you want them to be. Teach them how to do the work the way you want it down. Encourage them to step up and take pride in their work. This type of worker can be hired for a much more reasonable rate.

What more could you ask for in a new worker anyway? Work ethic almost always trumps work experience when it comes to getting things done, when and as they need to be done.

More information about Ron Roberts' and his company may be found on his website You'll also find a link to sign up to his informative e-newsletter on his site. You may also reach Ron via email sent to

The Contractors Coach

This article was added to in 10.07.

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