Contractor Tip Of The Month: These Boots Are Made for Workin’

Words: Damian Lang

Damian Lang

Everyone keeps telling me they can’t find any good help these days. Help wanted signs are everywhere. Companies put ads online, on billboards, in front of their businesses, on the radio, and in the newspapers seeking to find employees.    Are these same companies missing a pool of potential employees who are ready to go to work but are being pushed aside? I do believe that the group exists. In fact, these future workers may be right in front of you asking for a job, but you are ignoring them.   Here’s how most companies handle job seekers. When someone walks into the office, the person at the front desk hands them an application or tells them to go on the internet and fill one out. Do you know what usually happens after the application is filled out? Someone at the company says they will get back to the applicant if they are interested in interviewing him. In other words, “Don’t call us. We’ll call you.”    The candidate may or may not even fill out the application. If he does, he may never receive that call. But one thing is for sure. He will most likely be visiting several other companies that day seeking employment. The company that interviews him and offers him a job first will most likely be the one that wins the candidate.      My companies are as guilty as the rest of letting potential employees seek employment elsewhere when we have open positions in which we could use them.    Wess, a contractor friend I network with, came to see me one day to tour our operations. As we were walking into headquarters, I noticed a guy walking out of the lobby with an application. I asked Wess to wait a minute because I needed to talk to this guy.    I caught up to the prospective applicant in the parking lot, introduced myself to him, and asked him if anyone had talked to him about employment opportunities since he was already here. He said no, but the lady at the front desk gave him an application to fill out. I asked him if he could wait a few minutes as I wanted him to meet one of our managers before he left. He said yes and returned to the lobby.    I asked the receptionist who gave the man the application to get him in for an interview before he leaves. If we don’t, then he’ll head down the street looking for the next opportunity. And if the next company interviews him before we do, we may lose him forever, I explained to her.    She went back to find one of our managers who could interview him and see if he was a fit at one of our companies.    When Wess and I resumed our day of networking together, he said, “I am amazed that you actually reached out to that guy to see if he was interested in coming to work. As the chief executive officer (CEO) of these companies, and with hundreds of employees, do you regularly do things at that level? Or, was there something different about him that made you want to reach out?” I replied, “Yes, he had his work boots on, so I knew he was ready to go to work.”    At our Vistage group meetings, when we discuss finding employees, Wess always makes the comment, “If they have their work boots on, they are ready to go to work.” Then he tells the story about me reaching out the guy with his work boots on, so I felt it would be a good topic for a contractor tip.    I thought my managers knew that no potential employee is to leave the building without an interview, so I was surprised that this one almost got away. In the future, I plan to go as far as having the front office staff do a mini-interview, and once they approve of the candidate, they make sure the person gets an interview with a manager before leaving the building at any of our facilities.    If you are struggling to find employees, make sure you don’t miss those who are right in front of you. When someone comes to your place of business looking for a job, start your own policy of interviewing them immediately. If you don’t, then those boots will be walking straight to your competitor’s office.  Damian Lang is CEO at Lang Masonry Contractors, Wolf Creek Construction, Malta Dynamics, and EZG Manufacturing. To view the products and equipment his companies created to make jobsites more efficient, visit his websites at or To receive his free e-newsletters or to speak with Damian on his management systems or products, or call 740-749-3512.
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