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How to Recruit Hard-to-Find Industrial Workers

How to Recruit Hard-to-Find Industrial Workers

The unemployment rate continues to trend downward after spiking during the Great Recession but it’s not at a point where it would be considered low. In some fields, however, there just never seem to be enough skilled workers available. This especially applies for industrial fields, where employees often move around as the available work ebbs and flows, with projects followed by shutdowns and layoffs.

We spoke with Quinn Guidry, personnel manager for Turner Industries Group in Baton Rouge, to find out how he approaches industrial recruiting. Here’s his advice.

Know Where to Look, Including Your Own Records

Turner has been in operation since 1961, and Guidry says the deep pool of past hires that comes with that longevity is a major resource when he’s looking to fill a job. “The first step is looking at your current database — past employees that have worked for Turner,” he says. “We have a large database of workers that have been employed so that is always the best place to start.”

But Turner also seeks out newcomers, he says. “We reach out to colleges and vocational schools for individuals looking to get in the industry for training,” Guidry says. “We have training programs for people starting out. We have craft training and we have professional training for recent grads.”

The company also uses job ads, he says, and has seen increasing effectiveness with Internet job boards and social media.

Know What You Need

After you’ve identified sources, it’s time to start finding ways to narrow the field to the best candidates. Turner has four divisions — Construction; Maintenance and Turnarounds; Fabrication; and Equipment and Specialty Services — so candidates are sorted for those areas but also for other factors, Guidry says.

“They need to have the ‘industrial experience,’ ” he says. “Look at the different jobs worked  —shutdowns, long-term construction projects, maintenance positions. Also any certification they may have.”

Unlike many other fields, gaps in a resume are unlikely to raise an eyebrow, Guidry says. “It’s the nature of the type work — employees will have lapses between projects and shutdowns. The average construction project will last 8-12 months and the average shutdown will last around 2-4 weeks,” he says.

Know What the Candidates Are Looking For

As your list of candidates is narrowed, the emphasis shifts toward making an offer that can get them on board. At this point the traditional factors come into play — pay and benefits catch people’s eye.

“If you have a good benefit package it’s always a good seller. It’s always part of my recruiting pitch,” Guidry says. “401(k) plans are always asked about, and so are vacation and health plans. I always talk about training/professional development.”

But he says there are some differences within the fields, as professionals and craft workers tend to emphasize different aspects. “I find on the craft side it’s about the money and hours working, while on the professional side it’s about stability and benefits,” Guidry says. “This makes your recruiting approach different.”

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