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Tackling the Challenges of Maintenance Recruiting




I'm Steve Schuster, associate editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is maintenance recruiting.

Institutional and commercial facilities are becoming unbelievably complex. Technological advances in HVAC, power management, and lighting systems — to name just three — are entering facilities faster than ever. Front-line technicians are challenged daily to efficiently install, operate, test, and maintain these systems.

What should managers look for when interviewing candidates who oversee these systems?

Steve Plaxco, director of maintenance and facilities with the Yuba City (Calif.) Unified School District, says while he looks for a number of things, including technical skills, training, and actual work experience, customer service skills are even more important.

The fact that customer service is now a skill managers looks for when hiring a new candidate demonstrates the growing complexity of recruiting and retaining technicians — one already made complex by competition from other employers, tight budgets and a lack of qualified candidates.

In fact, recruiting has become so complex, in large part, because pressure continues to build on managers to make sure each new hire is not just technically qualified but also that he or she meets departmental expectations related to the soft issues. In other words, each new hire has to be the wisest possible long-term investment of the organization's money.

The real test for managers is to develop the ability to judge job candidates based on an evolving set of qualifications. Managers already know how to check applicants' credentials and licenses and test their technical skills.

What many managers will have to develop more fully is the ability to assess an applicant's feel for the job — whether he or she is capable of building upon technical skills by developing personal habits and interpersonal skills that are required for success in a new, more challenging era for maintenance and engineering departments.

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