Construction hiring can be a challenge in today’s environment. My name is Michael Willhite, owner of Willhite Grading & Excavation, a grading and excavation contractor based in Santa Barbara, California. This is my interview with Construction Equipment Magazine on working to overcome today’s hiring challenges.
Article originally appeared on Construction Equipment.
Young adults are increasingly turning away from a profession in the trades, and construction companies are suffering from a lack of skilled labor to replace an aging workforce. Mike Willhite, a 40 Under 40 in Construction Equipment winner, may have found a way to reach millennials and pique their interest in construction work.
Construction hiring in a social media world
When searching for new hires Willhite goes to Instagram, or rather Instagram comes to him.
As the owner of Willhite Grading & Excavation, Willhite has created a robust social media presence, particularly on Instagram. Between his three accounts (@willhitegrading, @miniearthmovers_daily, @GXearthworxapparel) Willhite has racked up roughly 27,000 followers.
But Instagram “likes” and “comments” aside, many users who find Willhite’s business on the app, are using it to network and land a job in the construction field.
Which is exactly what Carlos Garcia did, a young worker looking for an opportunity to learn about heavy excavation work.
Garcia contacted Willhite via Instagram’s direct message feature and expressed an interest in working for his company. Willhite first browsed Garcia’s account to see whether or not he would be an appropriate fit for his company.
“If they’re smart, they’ll be running their Instagram how I do. I run my Instagram like a business. I keep it professional. I keep it on topic,” Willhite said.
Garcia’s photos demonstrated to Willhite that he was proficient in operating basic compact equipment and open to learning more about heavy excavation work.
“I would call this guy a landscaper-type quality operator, which means they know how to run mini equipment and they know how to work on the top-level, but they don’t understand deep excavation,” Willhite said.
Garcia’s novice skill level was not a deal breaker for Willhite, instead it turned into a dialogue of what Garcia’s goals were should he be hired. And he was, his job progression started with the task of digging up roots using equipment the first month on the job.
Willhite also uses Instagram to hire skilled operators and trusts the social media platform over traditional methods of finding workers.
“I’m a small company,” Willhite said, “I can’t afford to blindly hire. Instagram allows me to pinpoint my hiring. I get a lot more bang for my buck.”