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Re: recruiting...a hiring process that works from LMN



“There is a way to do it better – find it” – Thomas Edison.


We all complain about the access to skilled trades in this business yet most of us don’t do anything to manage the problem.  This problem is much easier to overcome if you use a hiring system that ensures you find and motivate the right people.  Everybody on the team needs to have the right attitude and everybody needs to be a problem solver – without this you will never make a profit in this or any business, its that simple!

Your overall company objective needs to be simple:

  • Achieve your volume target
  • Perfect quality
  • Perfect safety
  • Reduced cost of production
  • Increased productivity

By hiring the right people these objectives can become reality, without the right people it will not happen.


Also consult HR module of CLP program study guides.



By implementing a simple yet effective system like this you create opportunities for your company that are un-matched by any of our other systems.  By hiring the right people you are preparing your company to produce the results you really desire, a highly skilled team with the right system will create opportunities at every turn – by recruiting year round using this system you will prepare your company to grow and continuously improve successfully.  If you don’t have the right people on the team there is no chance for successful expansion of the company or your profits.  Recruiting is really quite simple in theory, the more people you consider the better the chance you have of finding the superstars.  By using a system to screen those candidates your chances of finding superstars improves exponentially.  Imagine screening 5000 candidates a year, then hiring only 50 of them and ultimately keeping only 5 people on after their probationary period – that would mean you hired 1 in 5000 applicants, if you were hiring without a system, and you simply hire the first guy to apply each time, it would take you 5000 hires to find the same 5 superstars!  Consider your company like a pro sports team, you need to hire the best if you want to win, and by winning, we are suggesting that anything less than double digit profits is a loss!



  • Why is recruiting the best people so important?
    • The best companies in any industry are built on the best people in the industry
    • Quote from Jim Collins, author of Good to Great
      • If I were running a company today, I would have one priority above all others: to acquire as many of the best people as I could. I’d put off everything else to fill my bus. Because things are going to come back. My flywheel is going to start to turn. And the single biggest constraint on the success of my organization is the ability to get and to hang on to enough of the right people.
      • Recruiting Hires
        • Where to Post – the more ads placed in various areas the better chance we have of finding a more diverse group of candidates.  Hiring from outside the industry is usually where a great deal of opportunity exists.  For example, landscape construction firms it is wise to advertise directly to the building trades to find well trained highly skilled mature workers.  For example, snow and ice contractors are wise to advertise in agricultural areas to attract farmers with winter downtime, or on the government website to attract seasonal workers who do not have any other work in the winter.  By advertising on-line we expand our reach significantly – the more applicants we receive the better our chances are in hiring the right person for the job.  The number of applicants should be considered a funnel – starting with a large number, and after using the hiring process described in the course, you are left with just a few highly qualified individuals with an attitude that allows them to excel in your organization.
          • Association websites
          • Association publications
          • Government job banks
          • Classified websites (Craigslist, Kijiji)
          • Newspaper classifieds
  • What to Post
    • Best practices for writing a job posting
  • When to Post
    • Late in the winter a few weeks earlier than the competition
    • The benefit of getting the best people will outweigh the costs of a few weeks salary
  • Best Practices










  • Pre-interview


In the pre-interview and personal interview most of the questions should be positioned to gather information relating to the following:


  • Behavioral Questions to assess:
  1. Team Orientation
  2. Initiative
  3. Oral Communication
  4. Problem Identification
  5. Problem Solutions
  6. Practical Learning
  7. Work Pace
  8. Adaptibility
  9. Mechanical aptitude


  • Why pre-interviews are important
    • Help identify the best candidates
    • Minimize number of interviews
  • Link to Systems Library pre-interview
  • Job-interview
    • Types of Questions to ask
    • Situational interview questions
    • Link to Systems Library interview questions


Add new step here –  after the personal interview, the recruiter should decide if the candidate is worthy of testing to confirm aptitude and skills.  If areas 1, 2, 3 look good in the interview than its time to consider areas 3-9.  The following testing will help make the initial decision, but the two week working interview and the 3 month probation will ultimately allow more accurate assessment of areas 3 to 9.


Aptitude Testing – this test can be on paper or it can be completed using our Aptitude Testing Modules in the training area (to be built).  These aptitude tests will help help the interviewer understand how the applicant thinks and solves problems, and the tests will also help assess current trade related knowledge.  We (will) have different aptitude tests for Construction Landscape Technician, Construction Landscape Labourer Unskilled, Horticulturalist, Landscape Maintainer, Snow and Ice Technician, Carpenter, Stonemason, AZ Driver, Delivery Driver, Landscape Designer, Office Admin, Accounting, and general manager.


Skills Testing – the applicant completes three tasks that relate to the position  and completes a short written skills test (to be built and added to our HR area)


These tests allow us to first assess Safety, teamwork, process, capability to monitor changing conditions, general problem solving, attention to quality, responsibility, and adaptability.  Second – we can assess the candidates mechanical aptitude, mechanical knowledge, industry knowledge and skill set.


Once we have clearly made these assessments we can then assess our risks and rewards clearly.  We need to do the testing to accurately consider risks like turnover, theft, absenteeism, compensation claims, legal claims, capability to learn, ability to do the work mentally and physically, and last but not least work pace.  Work pace can only be accurately assessed by completing a two week interview immediately upon being hired.  The landscape industry is physically demanding – some people just are not prepared for the physical challenge – and never forget, the world is full of mentally and physically lazy people, the two usually go hand in hand!





  • Reference Checks
    • Why they are important
    • Link to Systems Library ref-check document
    • Offer of Employment letter
      • Structure, what to include
      • Link to Systems Library offer of employment letter


After providing the offer of employment it is wise to add into the offer that it is valid based on the applicant submitting a complete health physical and a criminal background check.  This will flush out any issues before hiring the candidate.


  • Employment Contracts
  • Critical components of employment contract
  • Link to Systems Library employment contract sample
  • Put in employee file
  • Post-Hire Procedures
    • Discuss importance of a Hiring System for your employees to follow for each and every new hire
    • The risks of not following a system include:
      • Confused, hesitant, unengaged employees
      • Frustrated supervisors
      • Lower productivity, increased inefficiency + waste
      • Risk of accident/incident involving new hire or others in their vicinity
      • Risk of equipment damage due to improper inspection/maintenance/operation
      • Company procedures falling apart
        • When procedures aren’t followed – others are quick to think they don’t have to follow either!
  • Discuss steps in Systems Library New Hire Procedure
    • Employee Information Form (systems library)
    • Orientation + Signoffs
      • Health + safety policy
      • Employment policy
      • Employee handbook
      • New Employee Orientation Procedure
      • Benefits waivers (if applicable)
    • Create employee file
      • Refer to Systems Library Employee File Checklist
    • Income Tax Forms
    • Employee mail slot/correspondence area
    • Work Information
      • Days, start/end times
      • Holiday/vacation info
    • Payroll information (frequency, dates, process)
    • … go through the New Hire Procedure and highlight other key tasks
    • Best Practices
      • Clearly specify probation period
        • If you have a ‘bad’ feeling before the end of the probation period, better to terminate relationship at that point
  • Put hire on a 2-week working interview
    • Helps evaluation field performance
  • Interview Scenarios
    • Setup ‘on the job’ scenarios for the interview
      • Build a small area of pavers
      • Build a set of steps
      • Inspect + operate equipment to perform a task
    • Build in ‘intentional mistakes’ for potential hire to identify + correct
  • Implement a Hiring System managed by Office Admin staff or owner (if business isn’t large enough for office staff)
    • Hold people accountable to carrying out the system
    • Periodically ‘inspect’ the system for yourself – is everyone completing their responsibilities as outlined in the system?





  • Purpose/importance of orientation  (Why to orient)
    • Protect the health + safety of new hire
      • Industry uses many young, seasonal workers
      • Unskilled workers may be unfamiliar with equipment, associated job hazards
  • Increase productivity of new hire
    • Identify company policies, processes
  • Prevent mistakes/inefficiencies
  • Help new hire feel the company’s commitment to their personal development
  • Protect the company
    • Orientations are law
    • Orientations + signoffs protect the company’s liability in case of an accident, injury, or incident
    • Who to orient?
      • Everyone
      • Different orientations for different roles
      • What to orient
        • Follow Employee Orientation Procedure in Systems Library
        • Link to Systems Library – Orientation Procedure
        • When to orient
          • Start day employee is hired
          • Key orientation must be done the minute employee begins employment before employee is exposed to any hazards
            • Cover safety + PPE procedures
            • Identify hazards, hazard controls, + first aid procedures
  • Consult Government department of labor for legislated training requirements and deadlines
  • Orientation does not stop after first day
    • Ongoing training
    • Employee changes role, position in company
    • Where to orient
      • Shop
      • Vehicles
      • Jobsites
      • Best Practices
        • Orientation is not enough – must get written signoffs from employee
        • Employee Handbook will cover most (if not all) company policies and document many best processes/procedures
        • Specifically assign supervisors to orient employees – key responsibility for role of supervisors
        • Follow up with employee after 1 week, follow up with supervisor
          • Ensure orientation process is occurring
  • Film your company’s basic orientation on movie camera
    • Identify key areas of shop + key company procedures
      • Shop safety areas + equipment
      • AM procedures
      • PM procedures
      • Working days + hours (start times, end times)
      • Payroll procedures
      • Vehicle/equipment procedures
        • Operating requirements
        • Maintenance
        • Inspections
        • Parking
    • Make sure to…
      • Use video as an aid – don’t rely on video for complete orientation
      • Ask new hire to write down questions during video to address at the end
      • Confirm/check that employee understood and absorbed ALL information with questions and knowledge checks
      • You must still get employee signoffs
      • Keep video current

Find out more about our systems for success and an upcoming Business Management Workshop at your local Cat dealer with landscapemanagementnetwork

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Re: recruiting...

I am MSc. Accounting and Financial Management Graduate with strong analytical skills, hard working, adaptable and relishes challenging environments. A versatile character with in-depth knowledge in customer service, sales, logistics and supply chain management matters. Graduated in the year 2010 at University of Hertfordshire UK. My interest is finance, sales and marketing. Please if this conjure with your requirement contact me on I

am a UK resident.


Best regards


Kofi Boakye

New member

Re: recruiting...

Referrals from suppliers, other trade contractors, other employees. Temporary agencies are good as well. Costs more intially, but you get to see how they work, and if they keep a crazy aunt in the basement. If they work out well, pay off the temp agency for a permanent placement.

Trusted Contributor

Re: recruiting...

Good question and tough to get specific as the nature of your business may demand different requirements- education vs. skilled labor.  Also, depending on the region your in things could be better or worse.  All in all, with unemployment being what it is, Id say you should have a good shot at applicants, but do they meet or have the job skills you want and can you invest time and money in entry level youth that have never been employed before.  This is not going to go away-- probably just get worse for a bit.  People are reinventing themselves everyday now so patience is key on all parties.  


Colleges and hiring firms are always a good choice to test the waters...





My company's finally starting to see business pickup...I have cut my guys over last couple years.where are you going to find experienced and reliable employess?