Hiring Mechanics is no walk in the park, especially now. Even as Mechanic Recruiters we find it hard, there are more jobs available than qualified mechanics and most techs know this. They can choose where they go and for the most part they know what they are worth. Recruiting Mechanics is a bit of an art that I will attempt to break down for you. A little bit of background about me before we get started. I have been recruiting Mechanics for well over 10 years, over the years I have been responsible for Hiring any type of Mechanic you can think of including Automotive, Truck, Diesel Engine, Heavy Equipment, Marine, Crane, Trailer, Generator, Farm Machinery and even one time on Under Water Logging Equipment. I have worked with companies mostly throughout Canada and the United States but have also recruited in about a dozen countries across the globe. I have seen it all, made my mistakes along the way and am here to help you learn from them.
When trying to find a Mechanic the trick is finding someone that has the right skills, experience and attitude. Each of these are equally important, I have worked with many candidates that are skilled mechanics but if they have no experience with what you need them to work on it wont help. For example a guy who is an incredibly skilled Automotive Mechanic will do you no good if you need someone to work on Mining Equipment. That being said Experience is not everything, I have come across a lot of candidates who spent 20 years working with one company but they were never responsible for anything more than Preventative Maintenance so instead of 20 years of experience it is more like they have 1 year of experience 20 times.
Attitude is the one that most people forget but it is so important. If you hire a guy with all the right skills and experience but is a jerk you will end up having your other mechanics leave. Worse yet if you hire a guy who is a good mechanic but is a clown/prankster you will end up with safety issues, injuries and again people quitting.
So Let’s Cover where to find these guys, for more on what to do when you find them see our article “How to Hire Mechanics.”
1. Job Boards
The easiest and first step should be posting a job ad on a job board. There are a ton of boards out there many of which are free.
Free Job Boards
Indeed – If you only use one job board use Indeed. It is the largest board, is on Google first page for almost any job search, has the most users and is free for a regular post. You can sponsor your post which will generate more exposure but that can get expensive. If you do sponsor your ad make sure you put a max that you can afford. It will be maxed out way quicker than you think.
Google Careers – Google’s career page is newer, only about a year old and most are not yet conditioned to use it but that could change quickly. Before too long it is likely to be the go to job board.
Local Job Boards – Do a quick google search to see what boards are available to you. There are a ton of governments that sponsor free job boards for example in Canada you can post on Job Bank (https://www.jobbank.gc.ca/.) A lot of States have their own job boards as well, if the job is in that State they will post your job for free. These can be valuable because they often get picked up by additional job boards. Also if anyone is using a government sponsored job placement service the first source they use is the Government job board.
Paid Job Boards
There are also a lot of paid job boards out there which I do not really recommend for recruiting mechanics. They may do great for other roles but I have not had much luck with them for Mechanics. In the past I have tried Zip Recruiter, Career Builder, Monster, Workopolis, Post Jobs Free and others. At one time they were helpful but have been losing relevance and are returning fewer results.
While Job Boards might be the easiest way to find applicants the people that are on Job Boards are by definition people that are looking for work. This means they are unhappy with their job or are unemployed, either reason is not great and typically not what you want. The best mechanics are happily employed, not looking for a new job but most would listen if you had something better available. These are the mechanics you want and for them you have to move beyond the job board.
Every mechanic knows other mechanics. The longer they have been working in the trade the more they know. They have connections from trade school and places they previously worked. If you can get them to do your recruiting for you it will save a ton of money and should net you good mechanics. Typically people will only refer people that are good, no one wants to work with people that are going to bring them down.
Offer an incentive to referring a mechanic, many shops will offer cash i.e. $500 to refer a mechanic. This is somewhat helpful but as soon as you attach money to something it sounds like work so you may have better success if you offer something that is valuable but isn’t cash. For example offer extra vacation time for every successful referral or some new tools or even a case of beer. Something that your techs will value.
This is the least favorite for most but can be helpful. 2 ways to network, online and in person.
Online networking – get your Linked In, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest etc. accounts working for you. Always be trying to build your following, engage with the people that follow you and when you need techs reach out to that network. Don’t just reach out saying “Who Wants a Job” Instead come at it a bit
sideways try to be less direct. Something like “We have a new opening for a Mechanic on our day shift, we offer leading pay rates, good benefits and have recently updated our shop, if you know anyone that could be a fit please refer them to us.” If you specifically ask who is interested no one will think about others. If you ask them for referrals if they are interested they will refer themselves, if they are not a tech they might bring it up to their nephew who is a mechanic.
In Person Networking – This one is tough but if you are attending trade shows, conferences etc. make the most of that time. Don’t just go to look at what is new make sure to make acquaintances with people, swap information, stay in touch. You never know how these connections can help in the future, they could help you find mechanics or even build your business. It takes work and involves going out of your comfort zone but networking can work.
4. Trade School
Contact your local trade school, most have programs where they help their graduates find jobs. They will advertise your opening for you and can send you
recent graduates. This of course will not help you get experienced mechanics but you can start them at a lower pay rate, provide training along the way and have them work alongside your experienced techs eventually they will gain that experience. If you are hiring a couple of jr. techs every year you will eventually have a shop of technicians at all skill levels. You don’t need everyone in your shop to be stars, you just can’t have anyone who is terrible.
Some good schools to target:
In Canada – NAIT, SAIT, SIAST, BCIT, Centennial College (Click Here For a more complete of Canadian Mechanic Schools )
In USA – Lincoln Tech, Universal Technical Institue, Wyo Tech (Click Here for a more complete list of USA Mechanic Schools)
5. Use a Recruiting Firm
When you have exhausted your other options try using an Employment Agency (Head Hunter.) I am obviously biased here – Use Rockstar Mechanics – but using a firm that specializes in Mechanics is what you want. We spend all day every day doing everything listed above constantly building our network of candidates. We also have a bigger reach than most companies can get, we represent many companies and can give mechanics options so we will often get mechanics calling in asking what is available. A recruiting firm can be expensive but also very effective. Most companies feel that the expense is worth it, a recruiting fee usually pays for itself inside of about 6 weeks (having a mechanic on the job in a retail shop generating profit or a mechanic in a fleet shop saving money by not sending work out.)
I hope these tips help, recruiting mechanics is not easy which is why so many companies now are leaving it in the hands of a recruiter. Stick to what you do best and let a recruiter handle the hiring of mechanics but if you don’t have the budget for a recruiter I hope the other options work for you. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to reach out.