How do you find good employees?

ptonsparky

Senior Member
Location
NE (9.06 miles @5.9 Degrees from Winged Horses)
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
I'm not sure of your definition of apprenticeship. Do you mean some limited in-house training that runs a few weeks? Electrical apprenticeships, both union and non-union, are multi-years long affairs. I don't suspect any one company can afford to take on that expense by themselves. All the apprenticeships I know of are run by groups of contractors pooling their money.

A better plan in my opinion would be to hire electricians just topping out of apprenticeship school. You can run them through a few weeks or months of company training to teach them your methods and fill-in training they didn't receive. (My trainees would be required to run an attic obstacle course so I can be sure they won't damage ceilings and won't fall through and kill themselves.)
Injuries are more expensive in the long term. I used to tell my help if they fell through a ceiling, from a ladder or roof, the last thing they see would be a hammer.
 

sii

Senior Member
Location
Nebraska
It’s not just the electrical field that’s suffering right now. We are trying to hire for manufacturing jobs, used to have a line of people out the door. Now, few apply and few of those can pass both a drug and math test. At this point i think we might be more likely to hire the guy that passed the math test and failed the drug test than vice verse.
 

blueheels2

Senior Member
Location
Raleigh, NC
Occupation
Electrical contractor
I just don’t care about most drugs. If you’re doing crack heroin or meth that’s a problem but if you smoke pot on your own time or eat mushrooms or lsd on the weekend I don’t care. Then again if you can’t pass the drug test you’re an idiot because they aren’t hard to beat.
 

Strathead

Senior Member
Chances are you are wrong about paying them enough. If you were paying enough you would get plenty of recruits.
This is what I was thinking. What is enough? It would need to be more than your average foreman in the area makes, but let's face it, service work is 90% mundane. The only time you need the Coppersmith qualifications is that rare service call. It would be hard for me to pay someone 40 hours a week for qualifications I only need about 4 hours a week. I know what he is looking for. I live in Ocala, and I agree they are few and far between. I'd like to believe I am one of them (except the age, way too old). It would take a lot compared to the wages in the area, and as an upper management type employee, I wouldn't be willing to pay what I would require to be paid.
 

Strathead

Senior Member
So based on the lack of on-point responses, nobody here knows how to find good employees either.
You actually said it in your first post. They are unicorns. Two things should be pretty clear. First you are going to have to steal them. They aren't going to be looking for a job. Two, you are are going to have to pay more than you think, more likely some sort of bonus incentive program in order to make sure someone else doesn't steal them. My company pays at or more than union wage right now in Leesburg (for journeymen), and we aren't union.
 

ramsy

Owner/Operator
Location
LA basin, CA
Occupation
Service Electrician 2017 NEC
It’s not just the electrical field that’s suffering right now. We are trying to hire for manufacturing jobs, used to have a line of people out the door. Now, few apply and few of those can pass both a drug and math test. At this point i think we might be more likely to hire the guy that passed the math test and failed the drug test than vice verse.
What we have here is a population waiting for the pandemic to go away, before going back to the workplace, or crawling around in strange people's living spaces.

Skilled workers are using their education, experience, and literacy to work from home, or keep unemployment compensation flowing.

Those who fail drug or math tests are the illiterate leftovers, the walking zombies who can't complete paperwork, or qualify for unemployment.
 

Dsg319

Senior Member
Location
West Virginia
Occupation
Journeyman Electrician
That's a good question. Mine is a small company so they are definitely taking a risk. If work dries up, I would have to lay them off. But I think I have a lot to offer. Forty paid hours per week regardless of how many hours (40 or less) that you work; Union wages, health care, vacation pay and other benefits; flexible hours; an opportunity to work on a service truck which some people are interested in doing; and a great employer who is kind to his employees.
That sounds to me like a great opportunity! Wish you were in West Virginia,

I currently work for a contractor who does primarily industrial, some commercial and little things.

I know the grass isn’t always greener on the other side but my heart longs to get into residential/commercial construction and troubleshooting full time somewhere.
 

Coppersmith

Senior Member
Location
Tampa, FL, USA
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
let's face it, service work is 90% mundane.
I have to disagree. While there is short list of tasks we do for residential service calls, when we leave a job, everything has to look finished with no damage or repaired damage. Trying to figure out how to route and fish cables through finished walls and ceilings takes a lot of thought, time and effort. Some residential attics and crawl spaces are too small to navigate. Commercial and industrial jobs are much easier since cables generally run above removable ceiling tiles or on open beams. And try locating an open or shorted cable that hidden behind a finished wall but you don't know how it's routed.

The only time you need the Coppersmith qualifications is that rare service call. It would be hard for me to pay someone 40 hours a week for qualifications I only need about 4 hours a week.
Here is my list of qualifications from the above posts. Please tell me which of these is not required on most or all service calls:

They have to be:
* smart electrically
* customer centric
* look good
* smell good
* have a good, safe driving record
* be efficient
* manage time well
* good with paperwork
 

Coppersmith

Senior Member
Location
Tampa, FL, USA
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
I'd like to point out that my original question was "where do I look for these employees". I have never looked for an electrical job. I'm a union electrician. When I want a job, I go to hall when there is a job call. I don't know where non-union electricians look for jobs. Is there a website where electricians advertise there services to employers? Is there a Facebook page or forum where this happens? Where should I be advertising to find them. I want to hire people but I don't know where to look. Please tell me. The union hall can't supply what I need. They don't have service truck electricians. I therefore need to look outside the union.
 

Dsg319

Senior Member
Location
West Virginia
Occupation
Journeyman Electrician
I'd like to point out that my original question was "where do I look for these employees". I have never looked for an electrical job. I'm a union electrician. When I want a job, I go to hall when there is a job call. I don't know where non-union electricians look for jobs. Is there a website where electricians advertise there services to employers? Is there a Facebook page or forum where this happens? Where should I be advertising to find them. I want to hire people but I don't know where to look. Please tell me. The union hall can't supply what I need. They don't have service truck electricians. I therefore need to look outside the union.
Our company uses a group called.... Tradesmen international. They have a website. Not sure what all areas they serve.
 

blueheels2

Senior Member
Location
Raleigh, NC
Occupation
Electrical contractor
L
I'd like to point out that my original question was "where do I look for these employees". I have never looked for an electrical job. I'm a union electrician. When I want a job, I go to hall when there is a job call. I don't know where non-union electricians look for jobs. Is there a website where electricians advertise there services to employers? Is there a Facebook page or forum where this happens? I want to hire people but I don't know where to look. Please tell me. The union hall can't supply what I need. They don't have service truck electricians. I therefore need to look outside the union.
I soon hope to be in the same boat. Was/am union electrician still paying my dues every month but I own a single man shop at the moment. My business is residential service and when I need to hire I really want to hire union. I believe that some of the apprentices who worked under me at my last job when I was a GF would be willing to work for me now. But the company we worked for did some commercial service so guys had vans and are somewhat used to service calls. I believe with my service rates I'll be able to pay good service guys gf rates and more. All that to say I think you are looking for shop rockets who don't want to travel and don't mind doing residential. You pay enough and I don't think they will mind. But you are going to have to train them. I was that guy I am describing and I would have never started my own shop if our shop wasn't so cheap in how they ran things.
 

James L

Senior Member
Location
Kansas Cty, Mo, USA
Occupation
Electrician
Our company uses a group called.... Tradesmen international. They have a website. Not sure what all areas they serve.
They're nationwide. I don't know how it is everywhere, but here in Kansas City it's like finding people on Craigslist.

I've worked with 40 or 50 of them, some when I had a boss and some on my work.

I'd say at least half of them were new hires, but they were peddled as being really good electricians. It's so bad I started asking how long this guy has worked at Tradesmen.

I finally gave up on them.
 

Coppersmith

Senior Member
Location
Tampa, FL, USA
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
I soon hope to be in the same boat. Was/am union electrician still paying my dues every month but I own a single man shop at the moment. My business is residential service and when I need to hire I really want to hire union. I believe that some of the apprentices who worked under me at my last job when I was a GF would be willing to work for me now. But the company we worked for did some commercial service so guys had vans and are somewhat used to service calls. I believe with my service rates I'll be able to pay good service guys gf rates and more. All that to say I think you are looking for shop rockets who don't want to travel and don't mind doing residential. You pay enough and I don't think they will mind. But you are going to have to train them. I was that guy I am describing and I would have never started my own shop if our shop wasn't so cheap in how they ran things.
I'm glad to see another electrician striking out on his own. A couple of things struck me about your reply that perhaps you are not aware of.

"I really want to hire union" - Since you are a union member, you really have no choice. If the hall finds out you are running a nonunion shop, you will be brought up on charges. Expect to sign an agreement with the hall and do all your hiring through them. The only time you can hire outside is when they cannot supply workers. Then you can hire outside, but you must have these workers sign up with the union.

"some of the apprentices...would be willing to work for me now" - Keep in mind that apprentices are not allowed to work without supervision so you can't put them on a service truck by themselves. Also the apprenticeship school probably has a policy of rotating apprentices to various businesses so you won't be able to keep them long enough to justify a lot of additional training expenses.

"did some commercial service so guys had vans and are somewhat used to service calls" - Commercial businesses are more lenient with service electricians who are rough around the edges. If you are planning to do residential work, many of these guys will not fit the bill. (See my list of resi service electrician requirements above.)

Keep in mind also that it is difficult to hire workers if you don't already have a full schedule of work to keep them busy. Going from a one man shop to a two man shop is very hard. You need to be scheduled out at least two weeks constantly to justify the cost.
 
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gadfly56

Senior Member
Location
New Jersey
Occupation
Professional Engineer, Fire & Life Safety
I'm glad to see another electrician striking out on his own. A couple of things struck me about your reply that perhaps you are not aware of.

"I really want to hire union" - Since you are a union member, you really have no choice. If the hall finds out you are running a nonunion shop, you will be brought up on charges. Expect to sign an agreement with the hall and do all your hiring through them. The only time you can hire outside is when they cannot supply workers. Then you can hire outside, but you must have these workers sign up with the union.

"some of the apprentices...would be willing to work for me now" - Keep in mind that apprentices are not allowed to work without supervision so you can't put them on a service truck by themselves. Also the apprenticeship school probably has a policy of rotating apprentices to various businesses so you won't be able to keep them long enough to justify a lot of additional training expenses.

"did some commercial service so guys had vans and are somewhat used to service calls" - Commercial businesses are more lenient with service electricians who are rough around the edges. If you are planning to do residential work, many of these guys will not fit the bill. (See my list of resi service electrician requirements above.)

Keep in mind also that it is difficult to hire workers if you don't already have a full schedule of work to keep them busy. Going from a one man shop to a two man shop is very hard. You need to be scheduled out at least two weeks constantly to justify the cost.
I talked to someone in NJ some time ago, and you have to make a choice whether or not you're going to be a union shop. Once made, that's pretty much it. You can, IIRC, get in Dutch with the hall if you even try to start a separate non-union shop, because you're still a union man.
 

blueheels2

Senior Member
Location
Raleigh, NC
Occupation
Electrical contractor
I'm glad to see another electrician striking out on his own. A couple of things struck me about your reply that perhaps you are not aware of.

"I really want to hire union" - Since you are a union member, you really have no choice. If the hall finds out you are running a nonunion shop, you will be brought up on charges. Expect to sign an agreement with the hall and do all your hiring through them. The only time you can hire outside is when they cannot supply workers. Then you can hire outside, but you must have these workers sign up with the union.

"some of the apprentices...would be willing to work for me now" - Keep in mind that apprentices are not allowed to work without supervision so you can't put them on a service truck by themselves. Also the apprenticeship school probably has a policy of rotating apprentices to various businesses so you won't be able to keep them long enough to justify a lot of additional training expenses.

"did some commercial service so guys had vans and are somewhat used to service calls" - Commercial businesses are more lenient with service electricians who are rough around the edges. If you are planning to do residential work, many of these guys will not fit the bill. (See my list of resi service electrician requirements above.)

Keep in mind also that it is difficult to hire workers if you don't already have a full schedule of work to keep them busy. Going from a one man shop to a two man shop is very hard. You need to be scheduled out at least two weeks constantly to justify the cost.
I’m aware of the Union rules an the hall is aware of what I am doing. I have considered being rat but I know that’s a crap thing to do nor is it what I want to do. And it really creates more problems than it solves. But I weigh all options. My dream is to provide a union shop that I would’ve enjoyed working at. Figuring out how to handle the hot work rules as well as finding manpower are the top concerns. I can always do what was done for me. My union employer hired me off of CraigsList because the hall couldn’t fill the call.

I wasn’t clear about the apprentices. These are guys that I trained and are now journeyman. I know them well and they are smart, clean , and professional. As far as them not working on service trucks it’s done all the time in my local. Not saying it’s right but apprentice foreman is the running joke/not joke around here. And the local is small enough that rotation of manpower rarely happens. I can think of 2 apprentices off the top of my head that served their entire apprenticeship at one shop. But I don’t want apprentices on my service trucks. But I would want to hire the fresh new jw’s thatcompleted the apprenticeship. They are top notch and are the unicorns being discussed here. That is if they are open to residential.

True the commercial businesses are more lenient but like I said the guys I’m talking about are smart, clean, and professional.
And yeah I would be prefer to be booked out 3 months before I consider putting another truck on the road. I expect I will be there sooner rather than later.
 

blueheels2

Senior Member
Location
Raleigh, NC
Occupation
Electrical contractor
I talked to someone in NJ some time ago, and you have to make a choice whether or not you're going to be a union shop. Once made, that's pretty much it. You can, IIRC, get in Dutch with the hall if you even try to start a separate non-union shop, because you're still a union man.
Yeah probably the only reason I haven’t signed up. Once you do it’s for life. And if it’s not doable then maybe I just run a single man shop forever because I have no intention of going back to work for someone else.
 

blueheels2

Senior Member
Location
Raleigh, NC
Occupation
Electrical contractor
I've rarely seen someone booked 3 moths out with service work.
I consider anything working for the homeowner service work . So some remodels/additions would be included in that 3 months and one area I work in service companies are booked out 6 months. I’m going to wire a hot tub 2.5 hours away on Tuesday because every service company in the area is booked out for 6 months.
 

Coppersmith

Senior Member
Location
Tampa, FL, USA
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
I consider anything working for the homeowner service work . So some remodels/additions would be included in that 3 months and one area I work in service companies are booked out 6 months. I’m going to wire a hot tub 2.5 hours away on Tuesday because every service company in the area is booked out for 6 months.
If I took a job 2.5 hours away, they would have to pay me my labor rate for 4 hours of that driving plus vehicle expenses. That would make the job impossibly expensive.
 
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