Durham’s Most Wanted!

Who remembers the old days when all you had to do to be flooded with skilled trades job applicants was put a want ad in the local paper?  You could say a few words like “Millwright wanted, $25/hr”, list some contact info and pretty soon, qualified millwrights would be banging on your door.

That just does not happen any more.

The Globe and Mail recently published an article confirming what we already knew: 

“The shortage of skilled workers in Canada’s industrial sector is reaching a new intensity, with many factory owners saying the lack of talent is hindering the growth of their companies.”

“The difficulty in finding workers such as welders, tool and die makers, machinists and millwrights has long been a problem for industrial companies …”

          “In the war for talent, the battle is over, and talent has won.”    (Forbes Nov 3, 2017)

The economy is robust. Statistics Canada reported in January 2019 that private-sector employee positions climbed by 111,500 which is the biggest month-to-month increase since the agency started collecting the data.  44,000 of those new jobs were created in Ontario alone.

Manufacturing and construction companies are significantly adding skilled trades to their rosters, contributing to the existing major supply and demand issue!

It is no secret that finding and attracting talent particularly, skilled trades is extremely challenging. Many articles tell us the what and why to the shortage however, they generally don’t offer solutions on how to attract the ‘right’ candidates.

I will share some tips on how we’ve managed to be successful in attracting and connecting top talent with our clients. Now, I must mention that while we’ve had successes this is NOT a guaranteed full-proof strategy, but will help set you up for success.


Here are some suggestions that we’ve used to attract ALL types of candidates and NOT just skilled trades.

It’s Not Just About “Show Me The Money” 

Too often, companies looking to hire focus on the applicants’ skills and experience in their job posting and entirely overlook this critical aspect:  “What can we offer candidates, what’s in it for them?”  We have found that changing the traditional mindset of  “what you can do for us” and moving to “what we can do for you” has been successful in attracting candidates.  This is why telling your company story is critical.  You have to let the applicants know why working for you is the best choice they could make, get them to picture themselves working for you.  I’ll give you an example.

One company was struggling to find a heavy-duty mechanic to add to their team.  One of the prime candidates for the position had a 310T certification and other qualities that made him an exceptional applicant.  The problem was that he also had SEVEN offers from different companies.  In the end, he accepted a role that, yes, paid well but that also fit his values, that satisfied what he was looking for – a positive and supportive workplace, great culture, good safety record and growth opportunities. 

In point of fact, the runner up companies that missed out on hiring him also had many of the same things to offer but didn’t emphasize them in their job posting or interviews.  The company that did hire him simply did a better job of fully representing their company and was successful in landing a high quality person.

Of course, you’re going to have to offer a competitive wage (and in some cases pay above market) and benefits package, but that alone is not going to do it. The time for long robust job postings that focuses on what YOU, the company, are looking for with endless bullet points is gone.  The “what can they do for you?” approach just won’t do it.  Nowadays the focus needs to shift to what’s in it for them.

Communication SpeedometerWhat do I mean by this?

Everyone has a story to tell. Our company always focuses on two critical aspects when we recruit:

    • what is the candidate’s story?
  • what is the company’s story?

and essentially find a match based on certain criteria that includes values. You should consider pulling the curtain back and offer a full picture of what your company is all about.  Everyone loves a good story.  It’s not always easy to construct so I’ve listed a few thoughts to help you.

What is your company’s history?

A good business founding story takes the reader on your journey, gives them a glimpse of who you are, and helps to gain emotional buy-in.  Just reading your story makes people feel like they already know something about your company and they can start to imagine what it would be like to work there.

What contributions does your company make to the community?

If you’re an active supporter of the local community, say so.  Stable, steady work is a big draw.  Participating in food drives or toy drives, sponsoring little league teams, hosting local events says that you are a committed part of the community and gives the feel of stability. This is also very important for attracting Millennials!

What are the benefits of working there?

Paint a picture of what it’s like to work at your company.  According to our Durham Recruiting Survey conducted with people from the Durham Region, work/life balance is the #2 most important reason (after wage) in choosing a company to work for.  Applicants need to know that they’re going to be able to flex their schedule to do things that are important to them.  They need to know that they’re going to be able to take the kids to their dance lessons or hockey practice or pick them up from daycare at a reasonable hour.  They need to be aware that working for you doesn’t mean they have to give up the rest of their lives.  Do you promote work/life balance?  Yes?  Good!  Say so. 

Give them an overview of the role rather than endless bullet points.

Of course a candidate’s experience and qualifications are important to you, but you should give candidates an overview of what the position is in addition to the responsibilities.    Is the workload varied?  Does the role offer learning opportunities?  Will the person be allowed the opportunity to lead projects?   Will their ideas be heard by the owner or senior level staff?

pizza on table with hands grabbing slicesTalk about the “big little things” that makes your company a great place to work

Many companies offer things like meals, tuition reimbursement programs, dental plans, insurance plans, bonus schemes, extra vacation time, retirement plans.  More big little things are company barbeques, lunches, Christmas parties, lunch ‘n’ learns.  There is a long list of big little things that can attract the people you’re looking for.   Let applicants know that these extras are available to them.

Talk about your corporate culture

When you’re describing your company, don’t overlook those elements that contribute to the corporate culture.  Are you health and safety conscious?  Is your company ‘green’ conscious?  Does your company’s management lead by example?  Does it promote open communication that invites honest feedback from its employees?  Does it practice meritocracy?  Do your company’s leaders have a clear vision that they effectively communicate to the employees?  Do you have a culture of collaboration?  Do you provide growth opportunities for your team members?  If so, that’s great!  You need to say so.

The Kellow Approach

Durham Recruiting perfected the proprietary Kellow Approach.  We invest a large of amount of time with you to gain a deep understanding not only of the specific position you want to fill but also of your company and its culture, its values, its approach to employee relations.  Then we craft a message that will fully depict the appeal of your company, something that will resonate with and attract the candidates that are right for you.

Close up of handshake on construction siteWe also devote many hours developing and expanding our network of candidates, getting to know them and their qualifications, their aspirations, their goals and what they’re looking for in an employer.  We find out what makes them tick.

Then we play matchmaker.  We meticulously review both the company’s values and requirements and the candidate’s qualifications and goals and then we pair the company and the right candidates.  The Kellow Approach works!  Our impressive record of successful placements and retention says it all.

We know that attracting and retaining the right team member can be a challenge.  We can help!