July 2021
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The State of the BAS Job Market – Part 3

(3 Action Steps YOU can take NOW to fill your BAS openings in a talent short market.)
skipSkip Freeman,
 Senior Technical Recruiter,
BASI Solutions, Inc.
Skip.Freeman@BASIsolutions.com


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While this article concludes our 3 part series on the State of the BAS Job Market, we are far from done.

So, therefore, come back here each month to learn, improve, or validate a step within your overall hiring process.

Objective: when you complete the reading of this article, you, the small to medium-sized business, will have 3 key immediately actionable steps you can take NOW to compete more effectively against the major firms who are fishing in the same limited talent pool you are.

 

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You know it…you’re reading about it…your colleagues tell you about it…and you may be living it. We are in a talent short market, especially in Building Automation. We have been addressing this in our three-part series, The State of the BAS Job Market.

       In Part 1 (April 2021), we covered the BAS Job openings and the protocol we use to gather that data.

o   Summary: We use data gathered by the data analytics firm Economic Modeling - https://economicmodeling.com/.

o   For purposes of this study, we only focus on jobs that are in the field or those that support the folks in the field. In other words, the roles that get a commercial facilities BAS controls designed/engineered, installed, programmed, commissioned, up and running, and serviced.

o   We do not gather data on jobs for roles such as BAS software engineers, marketing, etc.

       Part 2 (May 2021) discussed the talent pool and the protocol used to gather that data. We have, as of this writing, now identified 13,419 field BAS controls professionals. We do not yet have contact data for all thirteen thousand. We are about 40% complete on that project.

       Part 3, this issue, discusses ACTIONABLE steps YOU can take NOW to fill your BAS openings in a talent short market.

 

Monthly BAS job openings have been increasing at a rate of 22.6%/month in 2021.

The number of open jobs surpassed pre-pandemic levels in April 2021. At the end of May, the number of open BAS jobs reached 26,234.

 

The number of Monthly BAS Job Openings

 

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Here are 3 Key Steps you, as a Small to Medium-Sized Business Owner, can take NOW to fill your BAS openings in a talent short market.

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These steps are specifically designed to help the small to mid-sized Mechanical Contractor & Systems Integrators. [The large OEMs have their systems in place. And their systems are designed to take YOUR people.]

Step 1: Check-in with all of your people on a personal level – Your people are going to quit unless…

The surge is coming  (or as the news media is currently calling it…the Great Resignation is coming…and in many cases, it is already here.)

The purpose of step 1 is FIRST to make sure you don’t have more openings than you planned for. “What on earth does that mean?” you may ask. After every recession, there is a phenomenon we, as recruiters, call “the surge.”

There is a natural turnover in the labor force. In fact, the BLS measures it and releases the data each month in their JOLTS report. This acronym means “job openings and labor turnover survey.” Within the labor turnover section of the report, voluntary quits are measured.

HVAC and BAS fall into the BLS Construction category. As shown in the graph below, voluntary quits in the construction industry are at one of the highest levels in the 21 years of this measurement.

 

 

 

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Not only has the “surge” begun, but it’s accelerating. As a result, many are now calling this “The Great Resignation.”

Your people are going to quit unless…you check in with them on a personal level.

Now, most of you are going to be telling me, “Look, Skip. Don’t be ridiculous. My people aren’t going to quit. I know them.”

But do you?

Many of your employees have been far more impacted by the pandemic than you may realize.

       Their spouse may have lost their job.

       A close friend or family member died. OR,

       one of your employees now has a 95-year old parent they must now spend some time with. Expenses are increasing due to the additional care required for their loved one.

We are all busy. Find the time to get to know your people as real people. It takes less time to do this than hire, train, and develop another person.

I promise you, if your people don’t FEEL you have concern for their well-being outside of work, they WILL find someone to work for who does show them the respect they feel they deserve.

LinkedIn has a platform called LinkedIn Recruiter. Only large companies (such as Johnson Controls, Siemens, etc.) or those of us who recruit for a living will pay the extremely high fees charged for this platform. Professionals on LinkedIn have a field they can activate called “Open to Work.” Only those of us who have paid the big bucks to LinkedIn have access to this information.

Example 1: The Systems Integrator represented in this screenshot is a firm on the east coast. They have 26 people. Four have the “open to work” tag activated. That’s 15.4% possible turnover on top of the two positions they have posted they need to fill now.

In other words, they think they have two hires they need to make. But, in reality, they will probably have 6.

One of these four professionals who is “open to work” is someone we like and are in the process of introducing to another firm.

If you follow the bullet points in this screenshot, you will see that we, as a recruiting firm, have easy access to 11 of this firm's 26 people.

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Example 2: This next company is an 18-person Systems Integrator in the Midwest.

They also have two open jobs posted. What they don’t know yet is that they are going to be hiring 5.

Three people are “open to work” (16.7%). I’m working with one of them now to help them find a new home.

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Example 3: As a final example, I jump to a Mechanical Contractor on the West Coast. They have a controls group of 22. Three are “open to work.”

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Do you really know your people? Are you talking to them as people? Are you providing them the things they need and want to stay with your organization?

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The first key to successful recruiting is retention.

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Step 2:
Control your Hiring Process with the same rigor you will control a Sequence of Operations

NO! I don’t mean the culture you think you have in your company (great teamwork, fun-loving, etc.), but the culture of your hiring process.

Example: I have a candidate interviewing with a Systems Integrator. The candidate had their 2nd interview with the company this past week. The 3rd (and final) interview will be face-to-face at the company after the 4th of July.

?? Maybe ??

I know my client likes the candidate and wants to bring them in. They hope to land them.

The candidate is not sure they will go to the final.

WHY??

Think about each of these. Could any one of these be you?

Interview 1 – it is a phone interview scheduled with the Director of Controls. I had sent a calendar invite to the Hiring Manager and the Candidate. Both had accepted. 10-minutes after the interview is supposed to have started, I get a text from the candidate.

“Skip, do you know anything about Tom?” (Not his real name.)

“Uh Oh,” I say to myself. Those texts are never any good.

I text back, “I guess that means you aren’t on the phone with Tom right now?”

“Nope!” is the one-word reply.

I reach out to the Hiring Manager via text. “Tom, are you soon going to be reaching out to James?”

After 5-minutes of waiting on a response to the text, I call. I get voice mail.

I am not leaving a message. I call the company, get the company voice mail. I call back, root around a couple of times, and get a live person. They chase the Hiring Manager down. Response, “Oh, s*%#, I thought it was tomorrow at this time?! I am in the middle of something. Can they do tomorrow?”

I get tomorrow worked out. I apologize profusely to the candidate on behalf of my client.

The next day, the phone call between the Director of Controls and my candidate does go well. I get feedback from both the client and the candidate so I can compare notes. Damage control successful.

Interview 2: If the candidate is local, interview #2 must be face-to-face. We are looking at relocation, in this case, so the second interview is over the phone, which is fine.

BUT…

It starts on time. The Director of Controls, head of Engineering, and two other control techs are in the conference room. They call my candidate on time, and the meeting goes about 75 minutes.

Feedback on a voicemail from the client: “Skip, we like James. We want to bring them in.”

Before I call the client back to find out why, exactly, do they like the candidate, I call the candidate to get their feedback.

I ask, “Who was in the room?”

The candidate responds, “Tom, Bob, I think, and two other people whose names I didn’t catch.?

“Who is Bob,” I ask.

Response from the candidate, “I think he heads up engineering.”

I try to get a little bit of detail from the candidate on what they discussed. For example, what projects are they working on? What did he hear about the company that he liked? Can he work with & for Tom, his boss, and the folks who will be his teammates?

I ask the candidate, “Based on the things you have heard, the people you have met, and the opportunities to grow and develop with this team, what are your thoughts?”

Here is the kill shot: “I don’t think I am interested.”

My question: “What has changed? What has taken you from being “interested” when we first discussed this role to now?”

Response: “They can’t seem to get their act together.”

And this is the point at which the candidate really opened up: “The head of engineering seemed not to have had my resume before the meeting. He said, “Give me a minute to read over your resume.” “Then the other two control techs…I am sure they are nice guys when you get to know them, but they seemed to want to be jerks in this meeting. They kept challenging me on stuff. It was like they had a chip on their shoulder, and I am a threat to them.”

Yes, everyone is busy. And what happens is this: while hiring is critical, and, in fact, it’s the most vital process you have in your company, for most businesses, the actual process is one of winging it.

You think, “We don’t do that.”

Trust me. You do. I am in the marketplace every day talking to candidates. I get feedback. You hire one for every two or three you interview. Those two or three who don't get hired are telling me (and others) about your chaotic hap-hazard process.

AND, they are telling the world about your chaotic process in the groups on Facebook where all of the other BAS folks hang out.

Challenge yourself. Can you flow chart your process? Does every participant know their role within that process?

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The second key to successful recruiting is to take your process from Chaotic to Structured. Map it out exactly like a Sequence of Operations.

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Step 3: Rip up your Current Job Posting (and create an ad instead)

Duties, Responsibilities, and Requirements – those are fine (and needed) for your internal use.

No law says those have to be the content of your job posting. EEO doesn’t require it. OFCCP doesn’t require it.

But everyone does it.

Let’s look at a few examples of how well this is working in our talent short BAS market:

Example 1: Small company

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Example 2: Mid-sized company

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Example 3: Large firm – note the exciting description of what this person gets to do, be, and become.

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I trust you got my sarcasm?

 

Example 4: 3 recent postings by our firm. These were not job descriptions (duties, responsibilities, requirements), but advertisements.

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The third key to successful recruiting is to be able to answer this question in the very first sentence of your job ad:

“Why would a gainfully employed candidate head-down, buried in excellence, quit a perfectly good job and come to work for me?”

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Until you can answer the above question, the only people who will apply to your job posts are the:

Disgruntled

Unemployed

The employed who are wanting to move to your city for family reasons

You will not move anyone else to action unless you are actively recruiting. Unless you are identifying potential candidates and personally reaching out to them one-by-one, your talent pool is severely limited.

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The demand for BAS talent is growing. The talent pool is shrinking.

My mission is to help you, the small to mid-sized firm compete effectively against the large firms to win the war for talent.


















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