Where Can Recruiters Find Technician Talent?

Traditional technician recruitment methods often fall short. Discover where recruiters can find technician talent and strategies to attract top candidates.

Parminder Jassal
July 2, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • Skilled technician shortage is a major challenge across industries due to an aging workforce, misconceptions about trades, and rapidly changing skill requirements.
  • Recruiters should diversify sourcing channels beyond traditional methods, including social media, in-person events, veteran organizations, and partnerships with educational institutions.
  • Attract and retain top technician talent by building a strong employer brand, promoting continuous learning, and leveraging data analytics and AI.
  • Unmudl goes beyond other recruitment sources. We offer targeted talent pipelines, collaborative curriculum design, scalable solutions, and custom training to address the skills gap.

Ironically, the hunt for skilled technicians is its own kind of skilled technical work. 

Despite their necessity to keep the world running, we’re experiencing a skilled labor shortage. It's hard to find qualified workers, let alone your ideal workers, partly due to a skills gap in the trades industry. 

This shortage is delaying projects, overworking employees, and halting growth — all of which cost companies time, money, and productivity.

Traditional methods of searching for skilled technicians often fall short, leaving you with a pile of resumes but few qualified candidates. However, there are many alternative approaches to finding your perfect needle, no matter the haystack’s size.  

Employers do face serious challenges, but knowing where to look – along with effective strategies for attracting and retaining top talent – will keep them ahead of shortages. 

Read on as we clue you into all the recruitment pipelines you can use to find technician talent. 

a person using a laptop

Why is Find Technician Talent Difficult and What Can We Do About It? 

The demand for skilled technicians is surging across industries, from manufacturing and construction to healthcare and IT. 

According to the 3M "State of Science Index 2023" (SOSI) study, 94% of the respondents believe that the labor market urgently needs more skilled trade professionals.

Yet, the supply of qualified candidates isn't keeping pace. Why?

  • Aging Workforce: A generation of technicians is nearing retirement age, creating a wave of retirements that will further increase the shortage. The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) estimates that 2.1 million manufacturing jobs could go unfilled by 2030 due to the skills shortage.
  • Misconceptions About Trades: Young people often opt for college degrees without having enough accurate information about their other choices. Societal biases against vocational education are strong — a report on Gen Z and the Uncertain Future of the Trades found that 74% of Gen Z respondents said there is a stigma associated with pursuing vocational school. 
  • Competition for Talent: The shortage of skilled technicians has created fierce competition among employers, making it difficult for smaller companies to compete and attract top talent.
  • Required Skill Sets Changing: Technological advancements change the skills required for technical roles. In the past few years, such advancements have been more frequent. Recruiters need candidates with both traditional trade skills and can adapt to new technologies.

Despite these challenges, there’s a lot of potential for future technician talent recruitment. 

  • Untapped Talent Pools: Many underutilized talent pools, such as veterans, women, and underrepresented minorities, possess the right skills and experience.
  • Shifting Perceptions: The old perceptions are shedding, and there is a new, growing recognition of the value of skilled trades. New initiatives promoting vocational education and apprenticeships are gaining momentum.

Where Can Recruiters Find Technical Talent? The Answer is Simpler Than You Think!

The short answer is to diversify your sourcing channels. However, you can’t pick randomly — choose a combination of channels that fit your needs and budget. Once you’ve picked, design a strategy to compete with other recruiters in the same space. 

1. Career Fairs and Campus Recruiting

Get to where the students are and recruit at the ground level!

Career fairs and campus recruiting events provide access to recent graduates and students eager to start their careers. Meeting them in person provides a layer of vetting, as you get to see their personalities and communication skills right off the bat. 

It’s also good for your company's brand to become a regular sight in these spaces. Visibility brings the candidates to you. 

However, this is a more costly and time-consuming option, given that each school you plan to establish a presence in will take up resources. Picking just one school isn’t enough, but the more you add, the more the cost.

You should target schools with specific technical programs that meet your needs. 

2. Your Local Talent Hub: Community Colleges

Don't overlook community colleges as a prime source of skilled technicians. 

Much like trade schools, community colleges have some stigma around them. However, many of these institutions do offer specialized programs that train students in various technical and trade skills.

Technical skills have grown in popularity, with programs ranging from welding and machining to electrical and HVAC becoming commonplace.

An increasing portion of all community school students are pursuing Career and Technical Education (CTE), creating a rich pool of potential candidates.

Some simple steps to be more effective at recruiting here:

  • Forge Partnerships
  • Offer Internships and Apprenticeships
  • Tap into Alumni Networks

Unmudl makes collaborating with community colleges easy, helping you partner with community colleges to build cost-effective training solutions.

community college students

3. Online Job Boards: Cast a Wider Net

Online job boards are a go-to resource for recruiters looking to fill roles, and technician roles are no different. 

Platforms like Indeed, Glassdoor, and others provide access to a vast pool of candidates. Estimates have varied over time, but a report over 50% of job seekers use job boards!

While generalized job boards can overflow with applications, niche platforms like ZipRecruiter and LinkedIn have features for targeting specific skill sets, locations, and relevant keywords to zero in on the qualifications you need.

Why you should use online job boards:

  • Wide Reach: Sites like Indeed and LinkedIn attract tens and even hundreds of millions of users from various backgrounds and experience levels.
  • Precise Targeting: You can narrow your search down in mere minutes.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Most job boards offer free or affordable posting options, making them budget-friendly for smaller and mid-size companies.

But there are some drawbacks.

  • Application Overload: The sheer volume of applications received can be overwhelming, with many candidates not matching up to basic requirements. 
  • Passive Candidates: Many candidates on job boards are not actively seeking new jobs, just shopping around instead. This wastes your time as they are less responsive, engaged, and likely to follow through.
  • Limited Candidate Insights: Resumes or quick questionnaires often fail to provide a comprehensive picture of a candidate's skills, experience, and cultural fit. You’ll still have to put in a lot more effort.

4. Industry-Specific Platforms and Forums:

On the internet, every community finds a space for itself. 

Plenty of niche job boards and forums are dedicated to specific trades or industries. These platforms often attract experienced technicians and more engaged candidates. 

Some examples include:

5. Online Communities & Social Media Groups 

Besides job boards and niche platforms, online communities allow recruiters to talk to professionals in these fields outside of a job recruitment environment.

These communities play a big role in professional networking and information sharing. Reddit, for example, hosts numerous groups and communities dedicated to specific trades and industries. 

Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have become popular channels for finding jobs. By sharing job postings and engaging with relevant groups, recruiters can build brand credibility and attract a broader group of technicians.

According to CareerArc’s 2021 Future of Recruiting Study, 86% of job seekers use social media in their job search.

social media apps

6. Veteran Organizations and Transition Programs:

Veterans often possess valuable technical skills and experience gained during their military service. Many veteran organizations and transition programs are dedicated to helping veterans find civilian careers that match their skill sets.

Programs like the Department of Defense's SkillBridge help build their capacities, allowing service members to gain civilian work experience (job training, employment skills training, apprenticeship) during their last 180 days of service.

  • Partner with Organizations: Connect with organizations like Hiring Our Heroes and Helmets to Hardhats to access a pool of qualified and motivated veteran candidates.
  • Highlight Veteran-Friendly Policies: Show your company's commitment to supporting veterans by offering training programs, flexible schedules, and resources for transitioning to civilian life.

7. Trade Shows and Conferences:

Your in-person events don’t just have to target students! 

Industry events like trade shows and conferences help you network with technicians, learn about what they’re looking for, understand the latest industry trends, and establish your company's brilliance.

  • Set Up a Booth: Being creative and clear at trade shows can instantly connect with prospective employees. It might even leave a mark on others who interact with your booth and might spread the word organically. 
  • Attend/Give Workshops and Presentations: Learn from industry experts alongside potential candidates. Alternatively, position yourself as a leader and draw in candidates by hosting excellent sessions.

8. Employee Referral Programs:

Employee referral programs work wonders! Current employees often know peers within their network and provide an additional layer of assessment when vouching for them. 

Referred candidates are more likely to be a good cultural fit, have reduced time-to-hires, and tend to stay longer with the company. 

Encouraging employees to refer candidates is also a super low-cost strategy!

So, how do you incentivize referrals?

  • Offer Rewards: Provide bonuses, prizes, or other incentives to employees who successfully refer qualified candidates.
  • Make it Easy: Create a streamlined referral process that allows employees to easily submit referrals and track their progress.

9. Recruiting Agencies and Headhunters

Agencies and headhunters have built their businesses around connecting employers with qualified candidates. A focused, experienced team helping you find candidates is a big help.

Headhunters tap into their extensive networks and even reach candidates who are not actively seeking new opportunities.

However, this method can cost much more than others, and fewer agencies specialize in finding technicians.  

You need to be very sure about the agency that works with you since you will be trusting them to understand your company’s culture and specific needs. They will also handle the screening process, making good communication all the more important.

10. Partnering with High Schools for Early Talent Identification

Partnering with high schools may seem a little early, but this investment can pay large dividends in the future. 

Working with high schools allows you to identify and nurture talent early. Programs like career days, technical workshops, and dual-enrollment courses can spark students' interest. 

Introducing students to technical careers at this critical point in their lives dispels misinformation and communicates the field's benefits, possibly increasing the number who pursue them.

Once they pursue this career, your business will be at the top of their mind.

11. Building Relationships with Technical Schools

Don’t just rely on choosing from a pool of graduated students! 

Form partnerships with technical schools and community colleges to provide a steady stream of qualified candidates – one that continues to grow as you establish credibility and word-of-mouth over time.

Unlike simply visiting a school, invest in collaborating with the most relevant educational institutes on:

  • Curriculum development
  • Providing internships
  • Running skill development programs

It’s not just the students who will appreciate the support — the technical schools will, too! A long-term, positive relationship will reap benefits that you didn’t even expect.

12. Internships, Co-op Programs, and Apprenticeships 

Internships and cooperative education programs help identify and develop technician talent early. It enriches the field by providing students with practical work experience, and successful interns often transition into full-time roles at their place of internship

According to a recent NACE quick poll, 80% of 166 responding employers indicated that internships provided the best return on investment (ROI) as a recruiting strategy.

Apprenticeship programs are another similarly effective way to recruit and develop talent. 

These programs combine on-the-job training with classroom instruction and, apart from new workers, are great for mid-career workers who may feel hesitant about taking on internships.

Looking in the Right Place with the Wrong Strategy 

Let’s say you’ve pinpointed which recruiting sources will work best for your company. You give them a go, but the results are disappointing, to say the least. With today’s heavy competition, there’s a good chance this hypothetical comes close to becoming real. 

This isn’t a sign to move on. It’s a sign to reevaluate how you present yourself when tapping into these sources.

Here are some tips, tricks, and strategies for attracting better technical talent.

Build Strong Employer Branding

Having a standout employer brand is crucial for attracting top technician talent. 

It showcases what makes your company an amazing place to work and lets the top candidates know why they should choose you. Candidates want to align with an organization that shares their beliefs and offers a positive environment.

A 2023 report remarked that it is “challenging for growing companies to attract qualified candidates if they have a lesser-known employer brand”

Investing in employer branding initiatives, such as sharing employee testimonials, promoting your company culture on social media, and increasing in-person presence, play a big role in your recruitment efforts.

Highlight Company Culture and Values

Employees care more than ever before about finding a company with the right culture and values.

According to the Talent Board, in 2022, candidates reported that company values were by far the most important factor when looking for a job.

Continuous Learning and Certification Programs

For technicians, continuous learning and certification programs are a top priority. Their career depends on staying up-to-date with changing technology. 

Apart from attracting new candidates, these programs enhance the skills of your current workforce, possibly helping many become suitable for new roles within your organization

According to a survey by The Harris Poll for the American Staffing Association, 80% of employed U.S. adults consider an employer’s professional development and training offerings an important consideration when accepting a new job, but only 39% say their current employer is helping develop their skills. 

By promoting a culture of continuous learning, recruiters can attract and retain top technician talent.

Data Analytics & AI in Recruitment

Don’t make decisions purely on instincts. Data analytics can provide critical insights into your hiring strategies and identify the best potential candidates – all while saving you time. 

Recruitment technologies have now received a big boost due to AI-powered applicant targeting, tracking, and assessment. This further streamlines the typical hiring process. 

But you don’t have to limit yourself to using AI in one way. It can even help you plan and execute other recruitment strategies, like in-person events or employee referral programs.

Unmudl: The Ultimate Partner in Technician Talent Acquisition

Where traditional and non-traditional recruiting channels falter, Unmudl shines. 

Our approach goes well beyond a job board or agency model. We work with you as a true partner to understand your pain points. 

Accordingly, our models find and create the right candidates just for you.

Targeted Talent Pipeline

Instead of focusing on widening the net, we pinpoint your exact skill requirements. Through our partnerships with community colleges, we build custom training programs that create job-ready technicians.

Real Marketing Muscle

Yes, we build great courses. Then, we get them in front of the right eyes. 

Our marketing experts promote your training opportunities to a vast network of new and experienced working learners. We attract motivated candidates eager to upskill and join your team.

Collaborative Curriculum Design

We believe in teamwork. 

Our instructional designers collaborate with your subject matter experts and college partners to create courses that precisely match your industry's needs and standards. 

Why wear a generic shirt when you can have a tailor-made suit?

Scalable Solutions

Whether you're a Fortune 500 giant or a growing enterprise, we can scale our solutions to your distinct needs. 

Unmudl has worked with industry associations, government agencies, and workforce coalitions, so we know how to tackle talent shortages at any level.

Beyond Courses

Our commitment to bring you the best doesn't end with course completion. 

We help you integrate training with industry certifications, academic pathways, and internal talent development initiatives. We're all about your long-term success, not just a quick fix and exit.

The Unmudl Disruptor Lab

Our Disruptor Lab is a collaborative think tank where employers and colleges challenge norms and brainstorm innovative solutions to the skills gap. 

We're not afraid to shake things up, which keeps our solutions one step ahead. 

Ready to See How Unmudl Finds the Best Technician Talent?

Stop the endless resume scrolling and begin a more proactive, fruitful approach to talent acquisition. 

Unmudl will navigate the complex landscape of technician recruitment so you can build a skilled, adaptable, and future-ready technician workforce.

Schedule a demo with Unmudl today!

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