How to Hire the Right Players

Construction & Engineering

To fill the positions with the best available perfect people you need is not an easy task. You first must have a company that is attractive to prospective employees. And then you must have a recruiting program that keeps your pipeline full of available top talent.

Contractors who need field employees have a tough job attracting great people. Working outdoors is cold, hot, wet, dirty and dangerous. Employees start work at 6:00 am and then work all day on their feet doing heavy lifting. As they get older, employees become less valuable and must be replaced by a younger and cheaper people. The position has no job security or guaranty of ongoing work. If there is no work, the employee goes home without pay. Check out this construction want-ad I saw in the newspaper.


Construction field worker. Work is hot, dirty & unsafe. Be ready to work real hard. Bring your own tools & truck. No training program included. No room for advancement. Pay is not guaranteed. Apply at jobsite.

Would You Work for You?

For high school seniors, construction ranked number 248 out of 250 career choices. Workers today want more than hard work and good pay. They want a comfortable job that fits their lifestyle, is high tech, and fulfilling. There are enough good workers available, they just don’t want to work for your company doing what you want them to do. This requires a new attitude about attracting the best employees to work for your company. Employees must be your #2 priority, right behind finding new work/ acquiring customers.

Take a look at how you treat your employees. Is your pay fair? Do you have a written training program in place where employees can see their progress and move up the training ladder? Can your people get ahead if they meet their goals (if they have any)? Can your employees build a career with your company and eventually retire comfortably? Is there a future to build with your company?

Why do employees look so good at the interview? You try your best to hire the right people, but some just don’t work out. I have a rule of thumb: one in three will be the right ones! It must be random luck to get a good one. Yes, you can improve your odds with good questions, screening and testing. But over my thirty plus years of hiring employees, one out of three seems to be the number. So first remember, your job will be to continually improve and replace your staff on an ongoing basis. You need to cut out the deadwood in your company if you want it to prosper. Just like in your garden, only when you remove and trim the deadwood, new growth can happen. A Fortune magazine study shows that a bad hire can actually cost your company two to three times the employee’s annual salary.

Some employees are built to make your life miserable and make your money disappear. And I know it is not your favorite thing to constantly find good or replace bad employees. You really just want to hire them, leave them alone or tell them what to do, and then hope they do a good job. But, employees are a real pain in the _ _ _! (LEG) They take time, nurturing, coaching, training, and pruning. These are not your favorite things to spend your time on. After all, you’ve got important work to tend to like counting screws to order!

Back to professional sports. Why do team owners spend millions of dollars on finding and retaining the best coach? So their players will perform their best and the team will win. You can’t win a game without your players and coaching being a top priority. Most business owners and managers want people issues to go away. Hiring is a pain, so it’s done hastily without proper care. Remember what Peter Drucker said about people:

“The ability to make good people decisions represents the last reliable source of competitive advantage, since very few companies are good at it.”

You can’t hire people who don’t apply.

Hiring the right people starts with a good recruiting program. The old method of hiring employees was to take out a classified ad in your local newspaper, wait for the phone to ring, review the resumes, interview the applicants, and then hire the one you thought you could work with the best who costs the less. Hiring the right people today is totally different. People looking for work have many options and choices even during tough economic times. They will not work for companies who don’t respect employees or give them an opportunity to grow. To attract good people now takes an outreach and marketing campaign. Ads must be attention grabbers that attract potential employees to “please work for us’ because we are a great company to work for. You must work personal referrals, use assessment tests, offer flexible pay programs, have an excellent total compensation and benefit package, and allow employees a quality of life.

The tendency is for top players to be attracted to other top players who want to excel. The best hiring decision makers are your top performers. Let them decide who gets hired. Second and third tier players settle for lesser players who won’t compete hard for their jobs. Never let poor performers pick any players for your team.

Hire Winners

When reviewing resumes and during interviews, the natural tendency is to look for experience and "trained help.” These are easy hires and not necessarily the right ones. To pick the right people, look for TALENT, ATTITUDE, APPTITUDE and DETERMINATION! Remember, if you’ve got the right person, you can train the skills. (This assumes you have an ongoing training program!)

Hire people who:

  • Are consistent
  • Have potential
  • Have what it takes to perform
  • Have their act together
  • Have their life in order
  • Are responsible
  • Are willing to perform
  • Are self motivated
  • Have a good attitude
  • Are team players
  • Are competitive
  • Know how to win

I like people who played sports in high school. They know discipline, teamwork, and how to get along with all types of people. Plus they are competitive. Look for what you want, not what people tell you. Finding great help is like a blind date. You know what you want, but, you’re not sure you’ll get it. Ask the right questions and you will get the right answers. Use open ended questions like: “Tell me about your accomplishments in high school sports.” Don’t ask obvious questions like: Can you finish projects on-time?”

How To Attract The Right People

  1. Decide recruiting is a part of everyone’s job, including yours!
  2. Make recruiting a company wide program
  3. Pay for referrals to employees for new hires they referred
  4. Offer a signing bonus to new employees
  5. Have company recruiting flyers or brochures
  6. Give everyone recruiting business cards
  7. Make it easy for potential recruits:
    • Have a recruiting phone line
    • Interview on the phone first
    • Have a weekly time to call in
    • Use a simple employee application
    • Always take a picture of applicant
  8. Offer applicant referral fee to suppliers and subcontractors
  9. Hold seminars on how to get a good job
  10. Get involved at high schools
  11. Offer summer jobs to potential employees
  12. Offer part time jobs to students
  13. Offer craft training after school and on Saturdays
  14. Hold career days
  15. Offer college scholarship programs

Great Want Ads

Placing a great ad that will attract the best people is easy if you think about what you are trying to accomplish. You want to attract the best people to apply to your company. So you’ve got to give the best people a reason to apply. Ask yourself, what would attract you to apply to your company?

Bad want-ad

Construction worker needed. UG water & sewer lines. Minimum 5 years experience. Own tools & truck. Mail resume PO box 123.

What's wrong with this ad ? The ad isn’t exciting and doesn’t attract people who have potential. It looks like a tough job for a company who just needs work done – no opportunity for growth. It also doesn’t allow for a quick response. This ad is short to save money and won’t recruit the right people or get the job done.

Ads should be placed on online job websites to attract people who are computer literate and can function in today’s work environment. Everyone you want to hire must operate a computer and should know how to surf the net. So stop wasting money on ads printed in the newspaper. Only take out ads online in the online newspaper or employment sites like ‘’, ‘’, ‘’, ‘’, or ‘’ to get the best results. If you are looking for Hispanic workers for example, use employment websites that specialize in Spanish speaking readers.

Build a better want-ad!

To write a good ad, follow these four steps:

  1. Create an attention grabber . Use themes like ‘ run your own job’, ‘ready to move up?’, or ‘full charge.’
  2. Be straight and honest. Tell them exactly what you want like ‘dirty, long hours, hard work, etc.’
  3. Include the human factor. Use words like: ‘fun, energetic company, flexible, or great staff.’
  4. Have a call for action. Use incentives like: ‘call today from 9 – 4 & leave a brief message to explain your interest in the job’ or ‘apply @ _____ m-f from 2 – 7’ or email or fax resume to ___’

Good Want Ad

Full charge construction superintendent. Growing innovative commercial contractor seeking 1 great field leader to run major projects. We build quality, on-time projects for repeat customers. Need computer and job management skills. Great benefits, profit sharing & career opportunity. Call job hotline to setup interview @ 800-222-3333. Fax your resume today to 1-800-111-2222. e-mail to

It's Time to Put in Some New Players

Now the challenge is to make finding great employees a priority for you and your company. Coaches won’t keep their jobs very long without the right players in the game. Take a look at what you’ve got versus what you want. Make those tough decisions, bench a few players, start a few new players, and hire a few new players on an ongoing basis to build the best team you possibly can. You can win.


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