Ask a Recruiter: Skilled Trades

Refresh Leadership sat down with a seasoned professional recruiter who specializes in skilled trades from all industries. Melissa Speaker of Express Employment Professionals in Pensacola, FL, has been in the industry for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about this hot job market. We spoke with Melissa about industry insights and what it takes to be successful in her field.

What is your secret to successfully recruiting skilled trades workers?  

I started out with a focus on CDL drivers nearly 17 years ago, and through word of mouth, became known as the only local CDL recruiter in the area. I quickly spread into other fields outside of drivers too. Our number one source for recruitment is referrals. And I think that’s because we treat our employees great and in return they treat me and my clients great. No one wants to work for a bad employer so we take care of them.

What skills do you look for in the perfect candidate? 

There are no perfect candidates; I shape the ones I have into the mold that our clients need. I educate our job seekers on the position and the company as much as possible. I give them any and all history about the company to help them make the right choice for their career. If the associate or the client isn’t happy, I am just going to have to do my job all over again.

 What trends are you seeing in this job field? 

This is an employee’s market and employers that normally do not value their staff do now. There is a huge gap in the skilled trades market, meaning more people need to go get a trade or certification instead of a degree.

What types of jobs do you recruit for?

Electricians, HVAC techs, CDL drivers, machinist, mechanics of all types, maintenance techs, cooks, really any and all. You name it, I will find it or at least give it my best shot.

What are the hottest jobs right now? 

The hottest jobs we’re recruiting for right now electricians, any type of drivers, and machinists.

Do you see any problems with recruiting in a job-seekers market?

It makes it hard to make fast placements because every employee has several different offers to choose from. On the positive side, it is driving up the pay rates.

What is causing skilled trades workers to be open to the Great Resignation?

In my market, minimum wage is getting close to skilled trade wages. So we’re seeing a shortage of workers and the amount of work being put on employees is no longer worth it to them.

With all industries experiencing talent shortages, are you looking past any requirements (like years of experience) to place people in open positions? 

Almost all of our clients are now overlooking what was a requirement or deal breaker before. It is great because now so many more associates get an opportunity they would have never had before.

During such a successful career, I know you have many stories of helping great people find great jobs. Would you share one success story with us? 

Success is defined in so many ways and it isn’t often that you hear from associates about how you helped their lives or they show any appreciation. Our office placed a part-time receptionist who grew into a full-time administrative assistant and then she was promoted to the office manager. Once that happened, she emailed us to let us know that when we found her that job, she and her 5-year-old daughter had been living in her car for weeks. Because of the hope we were able to give her, she stuck it out and was able to get back on her feet and out of her car.

Ask a Recruiter

We appreciate Melissa speaking with us and discussing trends and stories of recruiting for this field. What type of stories from recruiters would you like to read about? What specific industries are you interested in? Let us know in the comments section below!

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