When finding carpenters gets tough, tough remodelers get creative. In his help-wanted ads, Gary Potter of Potter Construction, Seattle, uses the words that his own carpenters selected to describe themselves in their DISC profiles. ( Click here for more about DISC.)

The approach is a bit different from the typical emphasis on truck, tools, and salary, Potter says. “We're looking for a personality type because we want people who will get along well with our other carpenters.” (He has 12.)

Potter's ad appeared three times in The Seattle Times Sunday edition, which stays online for seven days.

The ad has generated a range of responses, including some “quality” resumes that led to two hires, Potter says. It has also inspired another twist on hiring: inviting good candidates to hear about Potter Construction en masse before deciding if they want to proceed. The process is more efficient than calling each candidate and holding a separate interview, he says.

Bruce Wentworth of Wentworth Inc., Chevy Chase, Md., has generated “quite a few phone calls” by offering cash rewards for referrals of carpenter candidates.

Wentworth says he sent letters to 50 or 60 people who he thought would “remotely have a chance” of knowing possible candidates. He cited his company's growth, his need for another good carpenter, and his willingness to pay $50 for the name and number of a good candidate and $150 if the referral became an in-person interview.

In a telling indicator of today's carpenter pool, many of the calls came from Hispanics with limited English. One person didn't even bother calling; “He dropped in to our office unannounced, and we actually hired him as a carpenter's helper,” Wentworth says.

More than half of U.S. construction companies report shortages of carpenters, according to the Builders Economic Council. The Census Bureau says that 32% of construction workers are foreign-born.