Recruiting is simply a game of statistics and odds. What are the odds on any given day that the right applicant is looking for a job at the exact same place that you're advertising?

That's a great question that I'm sure some brilliant statistician has the answer to, but we both know that in an industry such as ours, it's probably not very good. The fact is this: unemployment in our industry is extremely low and the percentage of qualified people searching for a job is very small.

When it comes to recruiting, there is no magic bullet. There are a number of ways to find the person you're looking for. They all work some of the time, but none are guaranteed to get you results.

Most people take their entire recruiting budget and place one newspaper ad or one job posting on the Internet, putting all their eggs in one basket, so to speak. It's like playing roulette and putting all your chips on one spin for red 27. Obviously, if you win, you win big. However, the odds are stacked heavily against you.

Seven Suggestions

Rather than playing "recruiting roulette," why not diversify your efforts? Figure out what your budget is and utilize as many different methods of advertising as you can. With each additional form of advertising, you increase your odds of finding the right person. Here are some tips that may help.

1. Run a small ad in the newspaper every week rather than one big ad for one day - or, a small ad in several different newspapers, rather than one big ad in one paper.

2. Get some "We're hiring" magnetic signs made to put on the back of every truck. These are typically very affordable and can be used over and over for several years.

3. Call the instructors and career counselors at trade schools in your area. They can refer recent graduates and past students who may have graduated two-plus years ago and can hit the ground running.

4. Call all the suppliers and distributors that you buy equipment and/or parts from and ask if they'll let you post a help wanted flyer at all their branch locations.

5. Post an ad on at least one Internet career site in addition to your newspaper advertising. With each new day, more and more people in this industry are using the Internet to find their next job.

6. Contact all the local workforce commission offices. Some people will go to a workforce office to find a job if they've recently relocated to the area and don't know the market. These offices are funded by the government and provide free assistance to any American who is looking for a job or wants to change careers.

7. Offer an employee referral bonus. If one of your employees refers someone that you hire, pay them a bonus after that person has been working for 90 days. The bonus could be $100, $250, $500, or even more, depending upon the position you're trying to fill.

Be Proactive

Once you have diversified your recruiting efforts, you really need to be consistent. Each of these things has increased your odds of finding the right person, but timing is still a factor. There is a window of opportunity for everyone.

Recruiting is exactly the same. Most people will change jobs or search for another job at some point, but not all the time. When the window of opportunity is open, you need to be there. Once you are doing everything you can to find the right person, you need to repeat those things every day, week, or month to ensure that when the right person is looking, he or she knows that you are too.

I suggest to most people that you make recruiting a fixed part of your monthly budget and always be recruiting. You never know when you'll need to hire someone, so be proactive. Don't wait until you are desperate and losing revenue to start your search.

Mike Mayberry is president of HVAC Agent, partner of The News in its Career Center, an online resource for HVACR job seekers and employers. For more information, go to and click on the Career Center button.

Publication date: 09/06/2004