Tips for finding employees in today’s challenging labor market

by Brian Sodoma

Call it what you like: a labor shortage, a labor crisis, a work reassessment, or something else. There’s no shortage of discussion today about how to find good help. Some blame today’s challenges on the pandemic but, in the painting trades, concern about finding help has been around for a lot longer. The good news is that, in many ways, the old strategies about finding employees still apply today. Here are some insights from hiring experts to help you find the right employees for your company in today’s brave new labor market.

Write ads that sell your company

When you create ads, be ‘you-focused,’ said Art Snarzyk, principal with InnerView Advisors, a firm that works with contractors to create successful hiring and retention programs. In short, write about what makes your company different from other companies.

Before writing the ad, the hiring pro encourages business owners to ask themselves one important question: why would someone quit another job to work for me? Nick Slavik, proprietor of Nick Slavik Painting & Restoration Co., in New Prague, MN, has seen success with this approach.

“Create inspiring, interesting ads that say nothing about lifting 50 pounds, driver’s licenses, experience, showing up on time, etc.,” Slavik said. “Post them where the millennials and gen Zs are, and have a real professional company for them to enter into.”

Sell the profession’s perks

Snarzyk encourages contractors to ‘sell the sizzle,’ or highlight the simple perks of the trade in ads as well. Articulating those perks may take a little soul searching at first. You can even ask your own employees why they like the field.

“Finding answers to questions like ‘do you feel appreciated for your hard work?’ and ‘do you like working in different places every day?’ … these are things to highlight in your ad,” Snarzyk added.

Look near and far (but mostly near)

Where do you find employees? That’s another question Snarzyk commonly hears. While social media ads can work, a company’s own employees are often the best pathway to future hires. Friends who refer friends bring you warm recruitment leads, the hiring pro explained. And if you’re treating your employees right, there’s a good chance, your own employees have already sold the candidate on the job before you meet them.

Keep the right perspective about longevity

Today, Snarzyk encourages employers to keep a realistic perspective about how long a hire typically stays with the company. Keep in mind that an 18 month to a two-year tenure is a good one, he said.

“Don’t think long-term,” he advised, “think ‘summer job’ right now. Give them a good experience and maybe you can hook them in for even longer.”

Even better, if you offer them a positive experience and they still move on, they could plug you into their network of friends who might be interested in working for you.

Avoid negativity and dare to think differently

Both Slavik and Snarzyk avoid the labor crisis negativity. Instead, they say employers can put their energy into finding new ways to hire.

“People who put intentional effort toward hiring and try novel things have great results recruiting,” Slavik added. “Be a real company, not just a person who wants to hire so that they don’t have to do all the work anymore. … Millennials want to be part of something, contribute, and see a path for advancement.”

Slavik also sees an overlooked group of prospects eager to work as painters.

“One of the most counterintuitive things about the so-called ‘labor crisis’ is that contractors overlook 47% of the entire workforce (162 million people currently)—women.”

More articles for painting professionals can be found at

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