Recruitment firms match workers, jobs
It was an offer Curtis Denomme couldn’t refuse. The 28-year-old master electrician from Cochrane wasn’t looking to change jobs, but when a recruitment firm approached him about a position with a bigger company, he bit.
“I wasn’t really actually planning to use a staffing company, but they sort of found me,” says Denomme.
The new job comes with lots of perks.
“It’s a chance for me to expand my skill base, the pay was higher and there’s a work truck, which is nice; it saves my own vehicle,” says Denomme.
Recent figures from Statistics Canada show Alberta has the highest job vacancy rate in the country and that has recruitment firms scrambling to find experienced workers for their clients, many of whom are tied to the oil and gas industry.
One of the biggest demands is for skilled tradespeople, says Sharlene Massie, head of About Staffing Ltd., the recruitment firm that found Denomme his job.
“We’re short welders, electricians, heavy equipment operators, technicians, mechanics, steel fitters, fabricators,” says Massie.
“Oil companies are snapping people up.”
Many workers are going north to high-paying jobs in the oilsands, says Massie.
That, she says, is creating a huge demand for skilled trades in other parts of the province.
“(Clients) are actually saying, ‘We’ll pay anything for the right person,’” says Massie, whose company focuses on filling jobs in Edmonton and surrounding areas, as well as in Calgary.
About Staffing receives from 1,000 to 4,000 resumes a month, but the company is selective about whom it refers to clients.
The agency picks 60 job seekers a week to interview for positions ranging from administrative and clerical to trades and accounting.
“We advertise and promote, we do lots of online searches, we call up competitors and we get a lot of referrals,” says Massie.
Denomme was one of those referrals.
A friend passed his name along to the company, after which a recruiter contacted him and asked for a resume and references.
About Staffing checked his credentials, interviewed him and referred him to one of its clients.
Within two weeks Denomme had the job.
“I hired him right away; he was a perfect fit,” says Luigi Esposito, Alberta district manager with Schneider Electric.
The recruiting firm did what Esposito couldn’t — find a qualified worker quickly.
“I had the position open for three to four months and I couldn’t fill it,” Esposito says.
w“Then About Staffing came to see me and I would say it was probably two weeks and they found me a person.”
Denomme paid nothing to About Staffing for finding him a job.
In fact, says Jeff Aplin, president of recruitment firm David Aplin Group, it is illegal for recruitment companies to charge job seekers. Agencies make their money from client companies who generally pay once a position is filled.
“We are exclusively paid by the employers,” Aplin says.
Aplin’s agency has offices across the country, including Edmonton.
“Our whole model is specialization by job category, so we have people who focus exclusively on recruiting for chartered accountants or IT managers or whatever the case may be,” he says.
One area where demand is very strong is the trades, Aplin says.
“In the Alberta labour market, the highest-growth job categories are in the technical/professional job category and that definitely includes the journeyman trades, the skilled trades,” Aplin says.
“No question, there is surplus demand for talented people and specifically the skilled trades are an area where there is a chronic, systemic labour shortage in Alberta.”
Some of Aplin’s clients are looking to fill positions for heavy-duty mechanics, millwrights, electricians and instrumentation technicians.
“Those would be some hot jobs right now.”
The goal of recruiting firms is to find the right person for the job, says Aplin.
“All of our consultants on a dayto-day basis are spending their time talking to people, asking for referrals. It’s just constantly seeking out, hunting down people that are in demand in job categories.
“We recruit them, we talk to them and when we’re able to recommend them to clients, we bring them to clients.”
That was something Luigi Esposito appreciated most.
“Like any other manager, to really dig into the candidates and do all that screening takes a lot of work effort,” Esposito says.
“They (recruiters) do the preliminary stuff. It is extremely helpful, they can weed people out and then we don’t waste time. It just makes life a lot easier.”
Jeff Aplin, president of recruiting for David Aplin Recruiting, says demand is strongest in Alberta for skilled tradespeople.
Sharlene Massie, CEO of About Staffing Ltd., says the move north to the oilpatch of many skilled workers has left many of the rest of Albertan employers scrambling for good staff.