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Finding Quality Painters

The key word here is “quality.” As an industry, it is important for all of us to change the perception that anyone can learn to paint in a day or two. Too many entrepreneurs are hiring unskilled labor which reduces the quality of work to the customer and drives down prices for the whole industry.

The skilled workforce shortage is a constant topic of concern in the construction industry, and finding qualified painters is especially challenging. The future won’t be particularly bright unless a new generation of workers gets the vocational training they need and some motivation to enter the field.

A good source to find new employees are vocational training programs in our communities. Many community colleges and technical trade schools offer programs in painting and coatings application. There are apprenticeships available and career paths for students to become true craftsmen. Becoming acquainted with these programs, lending your expertise and partnering with them could be a smart way to find eager, newly trained talent.

Some trade/vocational schools hold career days and invite high school and community college students to find out about jobs in the construction industry. And they often have online job boards and invite local businesses to participate in job fairs. Examples in California are Cal Apprenticeship, Contractors’ School and LA Trade Tech. In Arizona, check out Arizona Contract School Online and Gateway Community College. In Nevada and New Mexico, try Sierra Nevada Job Corps Center and the National Center for Construction Education and Research at AGC New Mexico. Local chapters of the Paint and Decorating Contractors of America (PDCA) are good resources, too.

As soon as the students get the training they need, you and your competitors are going to be vying for the same small talent pool. Here are a few tips to attract today’s worker:

  • Be specific about what you’re looking for. Indicate what training or certification you require and what the position will entail.
  • Make your job listing stand out. If everyone else is running generic ads that say “We’re hiring; experienced painters needed,” you should say something about your benefits or opportunities for growth in your organization. Let them know you care about your employees with a listing like: “Does your boss appreciate your painting skills? We will.”
  • Convey what further on-the-job training you offer and if you pay for continuing education.
  • Ask people for referrals…if they know a skilled painter who is not happy in their current situation. Consider offering a generous finders’ fee for any new hire that stays for at least one year. That will end up costing you much less than other recruiting tactics.
  • When you get a lead on a potential employee, reach out immediately and stay in touch if you’re not quite ready to hire. When a quality person is looking to make a move, they’re not going to be on the market too long.
  • Remember, it’s much easier to keep good people than to be constantly looking for new employees. Do you know the top three things people want in their job? Surprisingly, it isn’t money. Number one is having pride in one’s organization. Those who are proud of their organization are three times more likely to be happy than those who are not. The second and third top factors driving happiness are feeling appreciated, and being treated with fairness and respect.

How have you been successful finding and keeping good workers? Let us know.