A contractor I know asked the following:  “Please let me know your suggestions on the best channels to recruit top talent to fit our company culture of exceeding customer expectations, communicating and operating methodically, and making the building process and our customers' experience as exceptional and high-quality as our end product.” 

Here are 10 tips to finding that top talent:

1. Create an ally.
Odd as it may sound, it makes sense to regularly interact with the owners of competing companies. They are the ones likely to have the best employees in your area.

How would you do this?  Coffee or lunch is a nice way to do a one-on-one. That is definitely a good way to start. What would you talk about?  How things are going for each of you. “What is going well?” and  “What you could use some help with?” are great questions. Have the other contractor define his/her ideal projects and clients so you know that info and then you do the same for him.

Now you have someone who knows you and could refer you applicants for a project manager that might not be a good fit for his company but might be a good fit for yours.

2. Gather a small group.
Get together with maybe 10 people running excellent companies. Meet on a regular basis, maybe every 4 to 6 weeks, to help each other stay abreast of market trends and talk about a subject chosen by the meeting host.

I was part of such a group when we ran a company. One of the things all the members learned was that each of the members had a different set of ideal projects, ideal clients and ideal way of going to market. That made it easier for each of us to refer one another when the wrong client or project for one of us came along. By participating in such a group you can then reach out to the other members when you need project managers.

3. Get to know your subcontractors’ best craftspeople.
These are the folks who are actually doing the work on your projects, not the salespeople for the subcontractors. These craftspeople are being managed by other companies’ project managers. Because of that you can find out from them who the good ones are and then stay in contact with them, in an “I’m interested in talking when you are” way. You never know.

4. Be visible in your community.
Doug Selby, co-owner with Kirk Brandon, of Meadowlark Builders in Ann Arbor, Mich., is passionate about building high-performance, healthy homes. Because of Doug’s speaking and the “Behind the Drywall” tours the company does Meadowlark has a constant stream of employees from other companies who express interest in working there.

5. Talk with local homebuilders.
Now that the demand for new homes is greater than it has been, many homebuilders who had turned to remodeling during the downturn are going back to being exclusively homebuilders.They might have some folks who were better at managing remodeling projects than building new homes.

6. Contact architects that you currently work with.
Ask them which project manager(s) from other companies that they really like working with. Those would be good people to reach out to. Perhaps you could ask the architect to pass a kind word about you and your company their way.

7. Ask current employees if they know anyone who might be a good fit.
The success of this strategy depends on your employees maintaining connections with people they used to work with and/or being comfortable pitching your company to others. You might do a little coaching with them on how to ask the right questions of the good candidates to get them interested in finding out more about working at your company.

8. Interact with sales clerks at your local suppliers.
These folks see a lot of people from other companies. They have opinions about who are the best project managers to interact with.

9. Meet the teachers at any high school, college, or university that offer degrees  in construction management.

The teachers will remember their best students from one year ago and back. They might also know how to contact them.The future of this industry is that project managers will be sought after for their skills in managing people and information first and their craft knowledge second.

If you could find some graduates who have worked in the commercial world, for instance, and didn’t like that environment you might have some possible candidates to learn more about.

10. Place an advertisement.
Writing an effective ad will engage the right folks. Instead of listing a bunch of requirements, turn the ad into a sales pitch written as a list of questions that would attract someone’s interest. For example you could ask, “Would you like to be working at a company as a project manager and have your personal life respected?” or “Would you be interested in working as a project manager at a company that provided continuous training in both management and craft skills?” You want to make it so the right candidates, who often are very clear about what they are looking for in a job, get motivated to contact you.

Remember that you are always looking for good people. These activities must be part of everyday business for your company to be as successful as you, your clients and your employees want it to be.