Finding Qualified Candidates Sometimes Presents Major Challenge
Qualities such as honesty, integrity, and a strong work ethic are always among the characteristics managers seek in prospective employees. But maintenance and engineering managers must extend their search to include such traits as an appropriate skill set, including the ability to operate and troubleshoot a commercial HVAC system.
Leon County’s generalist model requires that technicians have a background in one of three specialties — HVAC, electrical, or carpentry — as a hiring condition.
“If we were to suddenly find ourselves weak due to retirement or other forms of attrition in a particular skill set, then we might target that specialty for our next hire,” Brantley says. “I think we tend to look for common-sense employees who are both willing and capable of being trained to serve our county’s needs. But above all else, we need an employee who can assess situations, admit limitations, and make appropriate decisions.”
Prospective employees striving to learn new skills and improve their performance tend to have an upper hand in the hiring process, Van Hook says.
“We look for confidence in their ability to learn and interest in continuing education,” he says. “If they aren’t looking to better themselves or aren’t confident that they can better themselves, then I’m not sure they will be able to make our organization better. Ultimately, each person we hire is hired to make our organization a better place to work.”
Once qualified employees arrive, the challenge for managers is keeping them. Training and education opportunities can help a manager in these efforts, but one factor often makes the difference between an employee staying and going.
“It nearly always comes down to the money,” Van Hook says. “Right now, there seems to be more talent than money available, and we can’t offer what the talent is worth.”