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5 Ways to Find, Hire, and Keep Your Next Rock Star (A Course Preview)

Jeff Gardner, Executive Director, ESPA (Electronic Systems Professional Alliance)
Jul 25, 2017

Quick Tips for Hiring, Onboarding, and Retaining Great People



As you may know, I have been up to my eyeballs in industry training and certification for ten years now, having served at CEDIA directing both technical training and certification. In early 2016, I began to focus entirely on the ESPA program, introducing electronic systems training to the academic channel. We have seen some great successes since then, and some of the programs we work with are now using both ESPA and CEDIA curriculum and certifications.

There has been a lot written about hiring recently, and rightly so; finding the right people for your team remains a high priority, especially now that business is thriving again.
I have been working closely with NSCA’s executive director Chuck Wilson over the past few years, and we will be back at CEDIA 2017 in San Diego this year with our panel discussion “Find, Hire, and Keep Your Next Rock Star.” Here’s a preview of that panel — five tips you can begin using today regarding workforce development.

1. Search out your local career centers and tech schools.
This is where you will find young people with many of the skills you need. Every market has a high school career center and at least one post-secondary tech school. Call them — or just walk in and ask questions. Ask if they have an electronics or IT program that applies to what your company does. Ask if you can meet an instructor and talk to a class. Get engaged. These schools have advisory boards you can be part of — and even influence what they are teaching. The integrators who have this line of communication with a school are the ones who help shape the curriculum AND get to identify (and hire) the best students.

2. Use the job boards.
CEDIA has a great Career Center where you can post job openings in your firm. Other resources include job boards hosted by NSCA, CE Pro magazine, and Commercial Integrator magazine, among others.


Register for CEDIA 2017 here.



3. Encourage in-house referrals.
There are differing opinions about hiring “friends and family” of current employees, but if done right this can work well. First, set the bar high. Make sure your people know you only want them to refer people who will be a good fit, especially in their personality and work ethic. Incentivize referrals by offering a bonus when the new hire has completed six months or a year on the job. Establish a trial period with the full understanding that certain goals must be achieved and make it clear that a complete assessment at the end of that time will determine whether or not they are offered a permanent position. Assign a mentor other than the person who recommended them.

4. Make all your employees part of your training team.
Establish a culture of learning for not just new hires, but everyone. Set aside time for online training and book study for all your employees, in addition to what they are learning on the job. This can be a combination of industry training (ESPA, CEDIA, CompTIA, etc.) and manufacturer training which directly applies to the work you do. Use credentials to clarify learning pathways and as part of evaluation and compensation processes.

5. Keep them interested.
Successful integrators of all sizes know that people want to be challenged and try new things. Discuss goals and opportunities within the company, including the development of entirely new positions that will keep them interested. Learn to recognize when someone needs a change, and talk to them about moving into a new role. This can keep people from looking elsewhere for new opportunities, and it creates a very “deep bench” in your company when people have experience in multiple roles.

For a deeper dive, attend the panel discussion “Find, Hire, and Keep Your Next Rock Star,” Sept. 6, 2:30 – 4:30 p.m. at CEDIA 2017. And to learn more about ESPA and how you can help build the workforce, visit www.espa.org or contact me directly at jgardner@espa.org.




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CEDIA blog posts are intended to provide general information and should not be regarded as legal opinions or advice.

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