How to Find Highly Skilled Trade Workers

One of the additions we’re making in Construction Business Owner in 2013 is the Case Study section. Here, we share problems that our readers are facing and turn to industry professionals for advice so that they and others facing similar situations can benefit from experts’ counsel.

We looked at CBO’s LinkedIn group and found a question from Ron Mealey, an electrical contractor in Norwalk, Iowa. Mealey has been trying to fill the position of journeyman residential electrician for six months due to an increased demand for his company’s  services. While the company has seen some applicants, Mealey tells CBO that none of them can perform to his business’s expectations. Additionally, those electricians that do have the talent required by the company are currently employed elsewhere and aren’t willing to leave the security of their current jobs.

Mealey asks, Besides word of mouth, which I feel is best, where do you advertise for skilled trade workers?

Greg Clayton
Vice President
Cengage Learning

“Let me start by saying that you are not alone in this problem. In fact, a recent study conducted by ManpowerGroup Inc. found that 49 percent of U.S. employers encounter difficulty while trying to fill critical positions within their organizations. Topping the list for a second consecutive year was the ‘skilled trades’ category, which includes craftsmen such as steamfitters, tool-and-die makers, construction workers, bricklayers, electricians and industrial workers. … Delmar, which is part of Cengage Learning, creates products for the building trades to specifically combat this downward cycle. With less time and money to spend, online and mobile resources, such as the DEWALT Contractor’s Exam Prep program, have become increasingly popular. … Delmar and many other education/training companies partner with industry associations such as the Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC), International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) or National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (NJATC) so that their members can have access to these types of educational resources. As a business owner, you can contact these various industry associations to network and post jobs with them so that these skilled workers will have a direct connection to your job opening.”


Eric Froese
Central Manager
CLP Resources
“If you are looking for ways to increase your recruiting capabilities, other than relying on word of mouth, you should consider hiring a skilled trades construction staffing firm. The use of such a service benefits employers by providing them with access to a large network of potential employees across the United States. … By utilizing a staffing agency, you are also able to tap into a larger network that includes current customers and local trade chapters such as the IEC (Independent Electrical Contractors) or ABC (American Building Contractors) to network. … Staffing agencies utilize online postings, specialized job boards, unemployment offices, local newspapers, supply stores, colleges and more. These resources build our funnel of talent and then screen in the good talent using references, background checks and skills testing and other methods.”


Jamie Schneiderman
Recruitment Specialist
and Co-founder
“You can’t hire the best person for the job if the best person doesn’t know it’s available. … You should consider advertising your job using social media, as social recruiting successes are consistently on the rise. Now, this isn’t to say you should post a job on any and every site, board, etc., but you should not rely on just one path to lead you to the employee you’re looking for.”

For more tips on hiring best practices, read the full commentary from Schneiderman at


What’s your construction business question? Email CBO’s associate editor at to submit a question for a future Case Study.