Skilled Trade Contractors – Recruiting & Retention Tips

by Coach Rob Balfanz
VSI - Vinyl Siding Institute - Building Codes

Skilled Trade Contractors – Recruiting & Retention Tips

Editor’s note: This is the first in a three-part blog series focused on workforce development in 2021. This first post offers tips on employee recruitment (including recruiting platforms), training and retention.

 A 2019 article published in Construction Business Owner stated: “By 2031, 41% of the current workforce will retire, and exiting Baby Boomers will only continue to exasperate the shortage.”

As I noted in a previous blog post, you have to plan to start recruiting and not stop - ever. Companies that continually recruit have a vision for today, tomorrow and the future.

There are many helpful recruiting sites available today. However, most are ideal platforms for companies hiring or offering jobs. It’s a little more challenging if you are a contractor specifically seeking candidates for skilled trade opportunities. There are countless tools and resources available for those looking to post jobs or show positions available. However, it’s not so easy to dive into a sea of resumes for the skilled trades. The way I look at it, you have to hunt versus fish, and, more importantly, you have to know where to search.

So, where do you find quality candidates? Here are a few recommendations to get you started:


Craigslist is a simple and easy way for local installers/skilled tradespeople to post their skills and their trade – and you may even see some of their work posted. It’s an easy-to-use site that allows you to drill down into region, state, city, village, town or metro area. Lastly, you can search by skilled trade/artisan specifically. And the best part: it’s free to search.


Facebook is a user-friendly way to engage multiple industry types. What I like the most about Facebook, specifically related to recruiting, is that so many people are on the platform. Facebook offers groups, pages and a marketplace, among many other great features. You can almost always find what and who you are looking for on this platform, and it’s also free to search.

General Tips & Tricks

Always leverage referrals, contractor or pro desks at your local big box or lumber yard, as well as local job sites. Stop by, introduce yourself – give a name, take a name.

Where else can you find skilled trade candidates? Here are a few additional suggestions:

All of these options work in their own way, and they work well when used properly, at the right time and for the right reasons.

Suggestions for Contractor Retention

  • Never wait for the right time or the perfect candidate. Guess what? That time and that candidate does not exist. Instead, make hay when the sun is shining – seize each moment and each opportunity.
  • When you onboard, onboard with intention. Know where you were, where you are and where your company is going. You will know how much time is required to spend on each candidate and each class. Be consistent in your approach, regardless of the time of year. Do not rush training or cut it short because of the time of year, and do not let your candidate fail simply because you failed to plan.

Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don't! - Sir Richard Branson

  • Incentivize your team, for referrals, and great quality work – this will always pay off.
  • Make the payroll/payout process easy, do what you say you are going to do and when you say you are going to do it by simply defining the process.
  • Provide consistent work and as few gaps as possible.
  • Know and understand your team members’ capabilities. Do not set them up for failure and ask yourself why it happened later.
  • Offer a quality product for a reasonable price and get it to them in a reasonable time frame so they can deliver the customer experience that you expect from your team. I call this the “three-legged stool” approach to doing business. If one of the legs is broken, the experience will be broken too.
  • Lastly, track everything. If you don’t track it, you won’t improve it. Track everything and let the data guide you. Regarding recruiting: Know where your leads are coming from, how much they cost you and if those leads are working out for you. If not, call a time out and pull out the playbook.

Do you have tips you would like to share? Send them to the Coach.

In the meantime,

Be Resilient – Add Value – Stay Healthy - Trust the Process!

To your success,

“Coach” Rob Balfanz