Over the lifetime of a company, managers and owners will face many challenges, but none as important as recruitment.
Ensuring that you have the right people to drive your vision is just as difficult as formulating said vision in the first place.
Every industry has its specific obstacles, yet field service contractors certainly have it rough these days. From fire and security to plumbing or HVAC, it seems recruiters are struggling with two things, according to the Service Council’s 2017 report, a large population of retiring workforce, and insufficient incoming workforce.
Their findings are staggering:
70% of service companies are worried about losing vital skill-sets due to retiring
Only 52% have a recruitment plan to help them weather challenges
Why are companies more preoccupied with worrying rather than making plans? Perhaps because recruiting in adverse conditions is nobody’s favorite task.
Field service technician jobs: how to hire
The term ‘technician’ is fairly broad and refers to many different specializations, but the gist of it is clear: it designates a person with specific technical skills. These, understandably, take years to train and hone. It’s easy when job seekers are knocking down your door, but not so much when the skills you’re looking for are rare, or take time to teach, especially to those who aren’t motivated to learn.
Some businesses might try to throw money at the problem and hope it goes away, but it’s not as simple as that. So, how do you impress the job-seekers who are in a position to choose? Why would they work for you and not your competitors?
Wages are rarely the only reason someone will join a company, much like low prices won’t help your customer experience if you’re not actively listening to the voice of the customer.
This is why we’ve put together a list of what the best recruiters do to hire for field service technician jobs.
Ways to recruit field service technicians
Demonstrate a positive work culture
Show that you're forward-thinking
Have impactful communication
Don't forget the curveballs
1. Demonstrate a positive work culture
You’ll notice a theme with our tips:namely, that there’s no switch you can simply flip to instantly transform your company. It might sound cliché, but it all has to come from within. A positive company culture is not something you can fake during the interviewing phase. People catch on very easily and it becomes obvious if they’re dealing with the kind of company that likes to micromanage employees, impede on their personal time, or limit them in an unfair way.
Company culture shows in all sorts of ways, including the way you formulate a job ad, for example. In the service sector, many ads are simply a list of demands, with little to no information on the company or the team that a prospect might be joining.
No one’s saying an ad must be a work of art, but a field service technician job posting should include the following elements.
A quick introduction to the company
Is it a family business? A fast-paced, commercial environment? Are you looking to fill large teams or create a close knit small group? These are all basic questions that will help prospects gauge if your company is what they’re looking for.
A list of core responsibilities
Don’t include phrases such as “employee will help with anything the manager requires.” There’s no louder alarm bell than a job ad saying an employee must do anything and everything. After all, technicians have worked hard to hone their skills in a particular area; why would they agree to cold call customers, for example? It also implies that employees have to do extra work on a regular basis, work that isn’t covered in their contract.
A list of benefits
This is your chance to shine a light on how good your employees have it. Benefits aren’t just about salary and bonuses, but small everyday things that make life that little bit easier. For example, office snacks, a weekly coffee allowance, or a pet-friendly attitude are all things that cost little, but improve everyone’s work life. The occasional dinner with the team is also a great perk that promotes healthy relationships between colleagues.
If there is to be a magic dust you can sprinkle on top of these 3 simple things, it should be personality. Add a bit of flair to your field service technician job ad! Avoid making it sound like a shopping list so that applicants know they’re looking at a company that knows how to make life more interesting.
If you’re recruiting for field service technician jobs using online forms, you might be tempted to add automatic rejection criteria. While these might help with sifting through CVs, it could also screen out candidates that perhaps don’t meet the exact requirements because of experience, but who would actually be more than capable to learn skills.
TIP: If you're looking for a way to automatically reject unfit candidates before going through the laborious back-and-forth interview process, implement ATS, or applicant tracking software, to help you work through the processes more smoothly.
2. Provide training
One way to futureproof your business is to hire the stars of tomorrow and help them get there. Make it clear that you’ll provide training and opportunities to learn at various stages - then do it!
Recruiting for field service technician jobs is all about thinking ahead. Not to mention that opportunities to learn and improve will appeal to any candidate, not just those on the greener side. Indeed, research has shown that even people with seniority value learning opportunities, while 70% of respondents to Gallup study on retaining Millennials said that they will reconsider leaving a job if they’re offered a chance for self-improvement.
When you find yourself thinking a technician would be perfect for the job if only they had this one extra technical skill, consider the cost of training them versus that of hiring someone with said skill who is a terrible fit for the team. At the end of the day, personality isn’t something you can teach. If the thought of employees leaving after you’ve helped them develop scares you, imagine if you didn’t and they stayed? Your business risks stagnating if there’s no development, which leads us to point three...
3. Show that you’re forward-thinking
This goes hand-in-hand with the previous point. A business leader is someone who always thinks ahead and tries to anticipate tomorrow’s challenges. These leaders might not even deal with recruitment woes because they invested in their techs 5 years ago. Even so, any recruiter should have an answer when a prospect asks “How do I know I can trust that your company will be here 5 years from now?” Someone with true leadership skills will not answer: “Well, we’ve been around for a lot longer than that.”
Prove that your business is ready for any challenge. Invest in technology that will keep you on top of the competition and show prospective employees that you’re ready for any challenges the market throws at you. An interview is supposed to build a foundation of trust between the company and the individual, and trust has to be mutual. Same as you need assurance that the interviewee is motivated and eager to do the job, they need to have confidence that the company is stable and supportive.
Show them how the average day of a field service technician looks like at a company that knew when to invest in the right tools.
No checking in at the office in the morning.
Drive a tracked vehicle straight to the first job that shows up on their mobile app.
Check a detailed history of the location and appliances on the app.
Deal with a minimum of situations where no one’s home to open the door (thanks to customers being able to book their own appointments and automatic reminders).
Parts are always available because there’s an inventory management software that keeps track and sends out purchase orders when an item is low in stock.
All these details show that your company is working hard at eliminating all those little annoyances that come with being a technician, and building towards greater employee wellbeing.
4. Have impactful communication
The means through which recruiters communicate with prospects has been thoroughly digitized. Do you plan to mail a job post to the local newspaper or release a radio ad? We think that’s unlikely, so why would you continue to use last decade’s methods to keep in touch with potential employees?
Take advantage of social media advertising or software tools like automated notifications to keep them up-to-date with the process (e.g. their application has been received, their interview is being reviewed, and so on).
TIP: Implementing the right recruiting software can help you automate some of these processes. Want to let a mass number of candidates know you've gone in a different direction? Automate that email with recruiting software.
Employers used to complain that they don’t have time to contact each and every applicant but nowadays, it only takes a few clicks and it will go a long way towards building that relationship we mentioned. With all the challenges of the market, a positive first impression will make a big impact on those experienced techs who have plenty of job offers to choose from.
Remember: employees are customers, too, so the same thought and care that should go into your customer experience strategy, also needs to go into the hiring experience. After all, if you were looking for a job and you had a couple of offers, why would you pick the company that didn’t send any replies for 3 months, forgot to notify you of an interview reschedule, or didn’t make any effort to demonstrate reliability?
5. Don’t forget the curveballs
As mentioned previously, you can teach skills but you can’t teach personality. So a culture fit is the most important thing. According to Erika Andersen, up to 89% of hires fail because they can’t adapt to the new team environment. But everyone puts on their best self in an interview so how do you tell if they’re being genuine or they’re just telling you what you want to hear? While it’s not possible to fully get to know someone in the span of an hour, there are definitely ways to filter out any potential bad apples.
This is where the curveball questions come in! These are seemingly random field technician interview questions designed to assess a person’s thought process rather than their knowledge or skills.
When you’re done asking about their most challenging job and worst customer, their ambition and desire to learn, move on to things like:
What’s an opinion you hold that others disagree with?
Convince me that Elvis Presley is still alive.
What’s the first thing you would do in a zombie apocalypse?
What’s your favourite fictional character and why?
These are all questions designed to gauge how a person thinks of themselves in relation to others and how they react in an unexpected situation, as well as the way they deal with the interviewer throwing a curveball. It will show you how they might react to a customer taking them by surprise or testing their patience.
If you start getting doubts about them during the interview, it’s best to listen to your instinct. Like we said, this is the applicant at their best so if their behavior isn’t up to the task now, they won’t get better while at the job.
But the most important question is to ask about their questions. Someone who isn’t interested in who they’ll be working for isn’t ideal. It means they lack motivation, professional curiosity, and dedication. Same with an individual who is only interested in how much you’re paying - they’ll be the employee who will go over to the competition in the blink of an eye if he’s offered slightly more.
All in all, recruiting is not something you should only be doing when you can’t handle the workload anymore. It should be a constant effort. Valuable employees can show up where you least expect them and their expectations are high.
Hiring is a lengthy process and needs to be done the right way so plan your hiring strategy during the low season. Look at reports from years past and try to gauge when it’s a good time to start looking, before customers start calling in, and account for a training period so that the new hire isn’t thrown directly into the deep end. With these 5 tips, you shouldn’t have any trouble getting started.
If you're looking for more ways to hone your overall recruitment strategy for field service technicians, make sure to check out G2's recruiting career resources to make sure your recruitment team is well-equipped to do the job right.
Cristina Maria is a Marketing Executive at
Commusoft, a job management software company, where she helps field service businesses discover the potential of digital solutions. A curious hybrid writer and marketer, you'll usually find Cristina doing what she loves most: using her work experience to produce engaging content for those looking to make the most out of their business strategies. An Asimov fan since childhood, she gets much too fired up whenever the topic of AI comes into discussion.