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Hiring for More than Skill

Honor’s Secret Sauce for Successful Recruiting

Much like West Michigan is experiencing a housing shortage, the region is also tight for skilled labor, creating competition for openings in a number of fields.

In construction, we need more than warm bodies; we need the right person with the right background and the right approach. While that makes our job more challenging when it comes to recruiting and filling open positions, we’ve found that upfront screening assures that—most of the time—we’re hiring the person that’s the best fit.

As a veteran-owned business, we know firsthand that the characteristics we’re looking for in an employee tend to align pretty well with the experience gained in the military. What we’ve seen is that most veterans have been given very important and extensively detailed tasks at an early age. There’s a maturity—and seriousness and dependability—that comes with service in the military.

“Even when they’re out of a military environment, veterans still have that urgency and stick-to-itiveness,” says Brad Laackman, CEO of Honor Construction. “That’s a value I look for in anybody, and veterans tend to have it in their DNA.”

Veterans are also often good at conflict resolution—a skill many people don’t learn until they’re in their 30s or 40s. In construction, we deal with conflict every day. Those who avoid conflict just end up digging a deeper hole. We’re definitely looking for the people who run toward the fire, not away from it.

And, there’s more. Those who have been in leadership in the military end up having to learn soft skills to inspire those they’re in charge of. Tangible incentives don’t exist in this environment, which means the ability to motivate has to come from a different place. Relationship building, communication, empathy, and listening skills are a big part of it.

So, we tend to seek out veterans when we’re hiring, but we also look for others who might have similar qualities; the types of people who have a reputation for hard work, like farmers and farmers’ kids, or high school and collegiate athletes. “We look for people with an amazing work ethic,” says Laackman. “Like the Kobe beef of steaks.”

What the right people all have in common is they’re not intimidated by real labor. They’re willing to work anytime, anywhere. There’s nothing beneath them and they’re not afraid to get their hands dirty. They’re also good at not just starting tasks, but actually finishing them. That’s key to everything we do.

So, there is a great deal of pre-screening that goes on. And a gut check after we’ve had a one-on-one interview. But, one other factor that goes into our hiring process is a fit interview with some of the Honor team members once a candidate has made it far enough along in our selection process. This is usually a casual interaction where they don’t really talk about work, but it helps everyone see if they’re going to be a match with our company culture. This holds a lot of weight with us and could make or break the whole thing.

Once we do find a fit, the work doesn’t stop there. Retaining talent is just as important. At Honor, both Laackman and Jeff Royce, Partner, strongly believe in—and participate in—servant leadership. “We give our team members the tools and the support they need—and then rinse and repeat,” says Laackman. “We’re not the people on the stage, we’re the ones clapping the loudest. That’s what’s really worked for us.”

Interested in working with Honor? Let’s talk! Contact us today.


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