by Jeff Winter

Jeff Winter is the VP of residential marketing for Sherwin-Williams. In his role, he communicates with contractors to better understand the products, marketing and other resources they need to effectively run their businesses. The labor shortage is one topic that comes up frequently in conversations with contractors these days, and Sherwin-Williams has deployed initiatives both on and offline to help. Here is a question Winter hears often.

Q: The labor shortage makes it hard to attract good people. Where are the best places to find quality employees?

A: This is a challenge for most of the contractors we talk to. Right now, skilled labor is hard to come by, so we’re finding that those who are the most successful in finding talent are hiring for attitude and then training people to their standards.

In order to find these people, you have to look in different places than you did in the past. Today, the most successful companies are utilizing digital resources. This is definitely a culture shift. It used to be that you could go to your network of friends and family to find people, and now that has become a pretty shallow pool.

Most companies have a Facebook presence for marketing their business to potential customers. That’s also a really good place to market your business to potential employees. Think of any social media channels you currently have for your business and use them to communicate your need for quality people and, above all, your willingness to train them for a good career. You also want to do your best to communicate exactly why becoming a painting professional is a solid career choice.

We also see success with the new digital employment sites such as Indeed, LinkedIn or even Glassdoor. Many painting contractors are overlooking these resources because they think these sites are for office jobs. The reality is that today’s younger workforce—those digital natives—are more technologically inclined, and they’re starting their job search online, so you want to be there, too.

One place to start is with a job posting on a job board such as Indeed. It’s an employment marketplace where you can let people know you’re hiring and that you’re looking for great people to join your team. Since you’re hiring to train those new to the field, know that you may have to drop the ‘looking for three years of painting experience’ part of your employment ad. There just aren’t as many people that can check that box, but there are motivated prospects who can become happy and productive employees.

The thought of hiring someone who doesn’t have painting experience can be a little scary, especially to legacy painting companies who have, for decades, found people through referrals and/or an internal network. Today, hiring requires a perspective shift for these employers who need to ask themselves, “If I am unable to find someone with traditional experience, what are the traits that I would accept as applicable experience, which might even be outside of the painting trade?”

Another way contractors have seen success with finding quality employees is in paying attention to the people they interact with every day. Think of that friendly person at the bagel shop, the server that is particularly helpful, the customer service employee who effectively anticipates your needs without you needing to ask. We interact with people all the time and some of them could bring great customer service qualities to the job.

Finally, contractors need to be prepared to get new hires up to speed. It’s important to develop training and mentorship programs that encourage a positive employee culture and personal growth. Your new painter may have found you through technology, but he or she values an inclusive workplace that is more than a job.

Contractors can also look to online resources for help. For example, Sherwin-Williams is a learning system developed to help onboard the next generation of painting professionals. Using the platform, painters new to the trade can start to learn the basics and keep track of their progress.

While it may seem difficult to find the right fit for your company, the labor shortage is only part of the challenge in play today. Knowing how to adjust expectations around experience, train new hires and look in the right places will be the keys to building a team to support your growing business.

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