Written by: Paul Van Metre
Every shop I know can’t find enough skilled staff like machinists & inspectors today. And, it's getting worse! I’ve been hearing this from nearly every shop I speak with in the past year. I recently attended the annual NTMA Engage Conference where I saw an AMAZING talk on this exact topic. It was given by Chris Czarnik, who wrote the book Winning the War for Talent. His ideas about hiring and the labor market are so spot on, and many of the ideas in this post come from his talk. They are very much in alignment with the practices we used in my shop, and today at ProShop. If you have an hour to watch it, I highly recommend it! It’s insightful and funny.
It’s a certainty that there will not be enough people entering the workforce in the coming years to fill all the positions - making it even worse than it is today. Which puts companies in a position to need to get creative in how they recruit, onboard, train and grow the talent on their teams. Many companies are stuck in the past with their hiring practices, and the need to update their processes couldn’t be more important. They post a help wanted ad in their local Craigslist, Indeed, and numerous other places. They describe the minimum requirements, pay ranges, and preferred experience. And there they get lost in the sea of dozens or hundreds of other job listings for the same type of jobs in their region. Does this sound like your shop? How is that working for you? Probably not very well. As Chris recommends, pull out your phone and look for your ads. What do you find? It’ll probably be an eye opener.
Job seekers are humans with their own personalities, desires, needs and concerns. As the Great Resignation has shown us, people are tired of working in jobs they don’t like and they want more meaningful work. You can likely provide that work for the right people. So making job ads that speak to them, draw their attention, and stand out from the crowd is vitally important. Once you’ve attracted their attention, you have to deliver the goods, some of which we’ve discussed in prior blog posts on how to attract employees, and mitigate the lack of machinists.
Start with learning more about your current employees. Ask what they love to do in their spare time, what jobs they had in the past that they loved or hated. Do they like working on their motorcycle or woodworking projects, or playing video games? Study and learn about various personality profiles like Meyers Briggs and DISC. As Chris points out, ISTP types (aka Virtuosos) often make great machinists! (I happen to be one myself). They are logical, like working with their hands, good under stress, are independent and love to solve problems. Sounds like a good machinist in the making?? You bet! So use that language in your job postings! It’ll help your listings jump off the screen and stand out from the rest.
Aside from piquing their interest based on their hobbies and interests, it makes sense to appeal to them on a human level. As our incredibly wise Chief Human Resources Officer Adrienne always tells us, “People are attracted to companies where the corporate culture reflects the values they hold as individuals. People want to believe in, and join, a company that respects them in the ways that are well-aligned and meaningful to them.” It’s important to figure out what you can offer your employees in terms of a relationship; is it loyalty? Is it integrity? Is it a fun work place? And then you deliver on that consistently. People are your most precious resource, and if they know that right from the very first interview, you’re sure to top their charts. It’s worked for us; we’ve more than doubled our team in the pandemic years.
There are lots more great tips in Chris’s speech, so I’d recommend watching it. For the relatively small time investment of learning more about doing this well, the returns you’ll see in improved recruitment will make a huge difference in your company’s ability to scale with the staff you need to serve your clients.
How can ProShop Help?
Honestly, probably not as much in this area as with many others. Once you’ve recruited some great people, we can help you provide a very well structured onboarding and training process for new employees with our training module. We can help you provide a modern paper-free shop floor, eliminating the frustrations of lost travelers, missing setup notes, and tribal knowledge. When you can attract enough of the right fit employees, and provide them with an enjoyable work environment and show you care about their development, you’re one step ahead of many other shops and can help your shop and all its various stakeholders to thrive.