What inspired this article was a request for me to put on a seminar on this subject a few years ago. Unfortunately, the people who were to pull everything together for the seminar couldn't do it, so there I was all prepared and nobody to talk to. As a result of that, here it is in written form.

I know that anyone can just put an ad in the newspaper or hang a sign on a wall in the stores, but isn't there a better way to target the person or people you are looking for without all the sifting and interviewing? And how do you find people who know what they're doing and will stick with your company?

What I want to talk to you about is the possibility of looking into some labor markets that you may not have considered.

  • Military Veterans
  • One of the finest sources of good technical people for our industry is those who have had technical jobs in branches of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. They usually make very good employees, because they are used to getting to work on time and following instructions. Also, when they are ready to re-enter civilian life, they often feel very insecure when making this move and are looking for something they can rely on for steady income and long-term employment. And the nice thing is, they expect to move somewhere else to find that employment.

    For a fact, especially in the HVACR industry, military veterans usually don't have experience on small residential-type equipment, but all refrigeration works on the same principles, no matter how large or how small. And don't just limit your sights to those with technical experience. People who have worked in any stocking or warehousing operation are usually pretty good at reading catalogs, locating warehouse stock, driving forklifts, handling over-the-counter sales, etc.

    How do you find these people? You can advertise in military magazines. Most of these people also read our industry's trade journals. And you can simply advertise in newspapers near military bases.

  • Retired People
  • It always amazes me (especially as I get older) that companies are reluctant to hire retired people, yet they are often the best employees. There are probably thousands of retired people in your area with fantastic skills and experience who would love to work for you. What are they looking for? Some supplemental medical insurance; maybe part-time employment; or just something to do. This is where some “outside the box” thinking is required on your part.

    The problem with most companies is that they are always seeking full-time employees. If you don't agree, compare the list you'll find under part-time employment in today's newspaper. However, hiring two part-time employees instead of one for full time is usually the most advantageous for any company. Yes, it requires more bookwork, but there is no benefit requirement for them (no vacations, holiday pay, insurance, etc.), so they can work cheaper. Also, if one misses a day, it is only a half day. And if your company needs people for those odd extended hours or weekends, why pay overtime?

    Also, for retired people, health insurance doesn't always have to cost as much when they are full-time employees, because most would be very happy with (in fact, they would jump at the chance to get) supplemental health benefits. Talk to your insurance provider.

  • The Handicapped
  • I know that this almost sounds like a cliché. However, when was the last time that your company actually looked for a handicapped person to fill a job? That likely isn't the first option on your mind. However, handicapped people, when they are matched to the proper position, usually make excellent employees. In addition, there are often tax benefits for hiring them, and it will give your customers a much friendlier view of your company. Could you use that?

    Yes, handicapped people may have special needs. A deaf person who drives a forklift, for example, may require something to make him or her aware of sounds. Someone in a wheelchair may require special doors or bathroom facilities - but the small extra cost is worth it!

    I received an e-mail from an incredible lady we know who happens to be blind. She has rollerskated with us, she has learned fluent Spanish, she plays the piano in a band in Memphis, TN, and she has just finished a course in medical transcription (she listens to doctor's tape recordings and types the notes). Yet, work has been hard to find for her.

    No, she doesn't want you to feel sorry for her. Most handicapped people don't. All they want is for you to give them a fair chance when it comes to a job that they do well. And in return, most will show up for the job every day on time, and work in the same position for many years without complaining. In addition, they are usually honest! When was the last time you found an employee like that?

    To sum it all up, good employees can be found everywhere, and often at a lower cost. It isn't necessary to hire illegal aliens or to steal qualified people from your competitors (or customers). All it takes is for you to think “outside the box” when it comes to potential labor pools. In fact, I probably haven't been thinking outside the box enough when writing this article, or this might not have been the end.