The first requirement is to determine exactly who is right for the job. The second is to let them know that job exists, and invite those people to come talk to us. Here are some effective ways to do those things.

– Chuck McKay

The New Reality

For years many employers have smugly scolded and talked down to applicants. That doesn’t work well today.

Why say things like “Incomplete applications will not be processed,” or “We’ll call if we wish to speak to you?” These comments aren’t only impersonal, they’re rude. Would you be drawn to a company that leaves this first impression?

Respect your applicants. Decide immediately whether you wish to schedule an interview, and inform the applicant either way. Schedule those you will interview. Contact those applicants you will not be interviewing, with something like: “Dear candidate, thank you for your interest in our company. We have decided not to move forward with your application. We wish you success in your job search.”

Good news or bad, there is no excuse for leaving people hanging.

Start with Your Website

Both customers and job applicants will form opinions about your firm through what they’ve heard about you, and by what you say on your web site.

  • Build a page that thanks applicants for their interest, and explains your hiring process.
  • Think visually. Use graphs, flow charts, bulleted summaries, photos of smiling faces, and short videos.
  • Speak for your company, Mr. Owner. Do that “thank you for applying” video yourself to welcome and appreciate applicants.

Advertise for the Person, Not the Job

Job postings should never be job descriptions. Job postings are marketing tools.

Imagine how your ad will stand out from the estimated 96% of “help wanted” ads that focus on job duties and qualifications. Done properly, applicants will see themselves described in your listing, and feel you’re speaking directly to them.

In addition to attracting the best candidates for employment, a well-written recruitment ad will also enhance reputation and attract new customers.

Take this example from Miller’s Heating and Air Conditioning of Norfolk, Virginia. For reasons that will be obvious shortly, this ad, created by my partner, Jeff Sexton, required delivery over radio.

When corporate values override human values it’s the front-line workers and customers who suffer. And, if you’re my kind of air conditioning installer, then you know that the quality of the installation is way more important than the brand of equipment being installed. So if you’ve been forced into compromising your craft with “rip and replace” installs and cut corners in order to squeeze in two installs a day, please stop letting the corporate owned numbers-driven bosses franchise you over and come work for Miller’s. At Millers we do business as if people and honoring your craft matter. We’re hiring do-it-right installers right now. No more “two a days.” No more Saturday installs. No more shortcuts, because you matter, and your family time matters. If you’ve got the right stuff; the tradecraft, the experience, the customer service attitude, and the deep seated need to assure that everything is square, plumb, and level, I’ll personally interview you and you’ll leave with a job offer. It ain’t the work wearing you out. It’s the corporate compromises. So ditch ‘em by applying online at Miller’s Home Comfort dot com.

Out of the quarter of a million residents of Norfolk, Virginia, how many are air condition technicians? How many of them are unhappy with their current employer? How many of those techs feel their integrity is being compromised every day when they follow the company’s directions.

Can we agree it’s a very small number?

But, by putting this ad on local Norfolk radio, it can be heard by that technician’s spouse, children, parents, or friends. Any of whom could be impressed with Miller’s standards and values, and will be eager to pass along to the technician the great news of an opening with Miller’s.

Equally important, the population of homeowners in Norfolk are hearing Jeff Miller talk about his company’s values, and the importance of customer service. Jeff is passionate and persuasive. The 30% of homeowners disposed to liking him will remember that “I like this guy” feeling, and will recall the company when they need heating or air conditioning service. (Remember what we said about mass media improving pay per click results?)

What the Tech Hears

“Resent being forced into compromise? We resent rip and replace installs. You should honor your craft. No more two-a-days. No Saturdays. No shortcuts. Leave with a job offer.”

The impression made on technicians is “If this sounds like your tribe, call us.”

What the Public Hears

“Quality is important. People matter. Miller’s hires for customer service attitude. We install everything square, plumb, and level.”

The impression on the home owning public is “We don’t take shortcuts in customers’ homes. We deliver value. We treat customers as the important people they are.”

Not bad for a single ad, huh?

So, You Don’t Just List Your Opening in the Newspaper’s Jobs Section?

Before you choose to post your opening on Monster, or Craig’s List, Facebook, or your local newspaper, decide what your goal for that ad will be.

Then, based on the audience you’re trying to reach and the message you want to plant in their minds, choose your medium.

To reach homeowners, leave positive impressions about his company, and to influence word of mouth among people who know HVAC technicians, Jeff Miller placed his recruitment message on radio where it could be presented with a degree of emotion.

Steve Holland, of Mr. Holland’s Heating and Air in suburban Milwaukee, wasn’t as concerned about making an impression on the public.  He needed the immediate attention of experienced HVAC technicians.

Steve placed this ad, written by my partner, Peter Nevland, in Craigslist where dissatisfied techs looking for work were likely to check:

Installers & Service Technicians for 1 Hour HVAC

Does your income guarantee your family’s security? Have you dreamed of boating on the lake, putting your kids in a better school, flying a model plane, torqueing your classic engine, or scaling Mt. Kilimanjaro?

If you have what it takes to join a highly organized A-team of installers & service technicians, I’ll find the way to make your dream a reality. I’ll facilitate your vision if you know how to make my company soar.

Can you handle your end of this bargain? I can definitely handle mine. Seriously.  Call my bluff. 866-471-0807.

Steve says he stopped counting the number of responses at 42, but the calls came in for days. Most of the applicants were already employed, experienced, and interested in improving their quality of life.

Steve hired two of those 42+ applicants, and they have turned out to be superstars.

Embed A Filter

There’s an easy way to eliminate those prospective employees that you don’t want on your staff. Place an instruction within the listing, and eliminate those who didn’t read, or who don’t follow instructions.

Here’s an example from Alaskan Air Conditioning and Heating, listed on It was written by my partner, Johnny Molson. (I get to hang out with some exceptional advertising practitioners, don’t I?)

Is it Your Pleasure to Serve?

When something makes that gzzchTINGbwaawwwFLANGbvzzzrrch sound, do you have a magic ability to figure it out?

Have you pulled over and helped someone with a flat tire?

Are you the first to volunteer when a buddy is moving a couch?

Are you intuitive enough to know how things work by instinct…but wise enough to look it up if you don’t?

When someone thanks you for being so helpful, were you brought up to say things like “my pleasure,” “don’t mention it,” or “it was nothing, really…”?

If you wear the word “service” like a hero wears medals, our company (and your strong values) are going to make a great combination.

Alaskan AC is looking for its next Superstar Service Technician.

You’ll show up at someone’s house who isn’t 100% comfortable (and we don’t accept anything less than 101%). They will explain to you, in their own way, what isn’t quite right. Like a diagnostic physician, you’ll figure out the problem…and the best way to fix the problem.

And you do this with the customer’s best interest in mind. Show them good, better and best options that will all work. Present plusses and minuses. Let them choose, and make absolutely sure they’re happy with the choice.

Yeah, we over-emphasize the word “service” in that job title of Service Technician. We’re running a business, and everyone makes a good living…but our job is to help our customers make good choices and win.

You need to be the kind of person who:

  • Shows up on time.
  • Is ready to make $80,000+ a year
  • Keeps your tools clean and working
  • Is willing to learn
  • Knows how to make complex machinery understandable.

Our Service Technicians earn an average of $100,000 a year. The top of the top are making way more than that.

You’ll also get:

  • Health, life, dental, vision, short and long-term disability insurance
  • 401k Plan with company matching
  • State-of-the-art tools, iPad, software, parts, and supplies
  • Lots of opportunities to grow within the company

We’re big on serving our customers, but we also serve each other. Our training is as good as it gets and if you want to grow into a Journeyman, Supervisor, or Manager,

We can make that happen together.

We will run a background check to protect our customers, our staff, and our company. This is the kind of job that requires you to be on your toes and pay close attention to detail.

You can’t cut corners and you can’t miss a step. Your first test is going to be how you apply for this position. When you email us, please put Ready to Serve Klondike Bars in the subject line. We’ll explain the Klondike Bars when you get here…but you’ll never get here if you miss that easy, first step. Most will goof this up. You won’t.

If you’re ready to be part of something bigger than just a job, Alaskan AC has exactly what you’re looking for. You’ll be a part of a team. You’ll have a direct impact on the success of the company. You will be paid well for your talents.

Ready to talk? You know what to do next.

Ron Bott
President, Alaskan Air Conditioning & Heating

For those who skim, notice the emphasis on “help our customers,” “show up on time,” “opportunities to grow,” and “part of something bigger.” This will appeal to the service mindset of the applicants Alaskan wants to hire.

Those who follow instructions typically perform better and stay longer with the company. Prospective employees who only skim and don’t pay attention to detail will miss the very specific instruction that will get their resume considered.

Coming up in Part 15, how to acquire employees carefully screened and trained by the Federal Government.


The content for this series of posts was taken from Chuck McKay’s The Personality Prescription for Contractors, available on Amazon.

Links to previous posts in this series:

Part 1 – Stalled Growth

Part 2 – Never Cut Price

Part 3 – You’re Choosing Cheap Ones

Part 4 – Other Homeowners’ Motivations

Part 5 – Let’s Sell Something

Part 6 – Uniqueness

Part 7 – Company Culture

Part 8 – Your Company’s Reputation

Part 9 – Using Your Culture

Part 10 – The Company Spokesperson

Part 11 – You Should be a Celebrity

Part 12 – The Perils of Celebrity

Part 13 – Finding Talent