Top 20 Reasons That Technician Recruitment Efforts Fail

Writer: Steve Johnson

We all know that Top 10, or “whatever number” lists, are popular in media today. At the risk of presenting “a list too long,” I figured this would still be a good approach to what I think is an important topic. Why do technician recruitment efforts fail?

There are, of course, the “uncontrollable” issues. These include things such as: demographics, parental and cultural bias, industry stereotypes and the “four-year degree syndrome.” Let’s not focus on these, but on what can be controlled. Yes, the uncontrollables are there, but we also know that many of you have overcome such obstacles and have creatively established highly successful recruitment programs.

I have been at AED for a number of years and have observed several things that “more than once” have stood out to me as potential self-inflicted obstacles to success. Here are the Top 20:

Lack of:

  1. Recruiting knowledge and processes – Is there resident or an outsourced expert at your dealership?
  2. Effectively managed recruitment plan – Is someone in charge of plan development and execution?
  3. Continuity; short and long-term – Do you turn recruitment programs on and off? It’s counter-productive.
  4. Resources: financial, material, human – Is the needed investment, per the plan, being made?
  5. Understanding tech job requirements – Who does the initial screening; are they trained?
  6. Interest level of those assigned – Do those involved and accountable care?
  7. Tenacity; persistence – Do those involved and accountable have “the fire in the belly?”
  8. Market knowledge – Do you know your target audience, competition, and job market dynamics?
  9. Engagement with local schools – Are there established solid relationships and involvement?
  10. New recruitment ideas – Are there opportunities for team brainstorming?
  11. Team decision making authority – Do good prospects disappear while waiting for a decision?
  12. Promotion and public relations – Do you have a formal plan with items that reinforce each other?
  13. Repetition – Is your recruitment message communicated repeatedly in various media and events?
  14. Assigned ownership and accountability – Is this person identified and assigned; with goals?
  15. Collective local industry efforts – Do you work with other local stakeholders to meet mutual needs?
  16. Tracking – Do you track recruitment outcomes and take corrective action
  17. Incentives (recovery rates, production goals) – Do they disincentivize journeyman mentors of new techs?
  18. Consistency – Does your recruitment team communicate the same message, or create confusion?
  19. Expectations of success – Do previous recruitment obstacles affect future optimism?
  20. Student and decision-influencer engagement – Do you spend time to develop these relationships?

The above can be valuable to you as a checklist of potential obstacles to your recruitment efforts. Of course, the converse of these items are potential controllable keys to success. I suggest you take a few minutes with your team to review your recruitment plan. See what is working and what may not be working. Develop new ideas and approaches; talk with others who have been successful. Again, recruitment success is attainable, as demonstrated by AED members who are successful technician recruiters.

Contact The AED Foundation or your AED Regional Manager to discover opportunities for your dealership in these areas.

AED Technical Assessments – How Are They Benefiting Dealers?

A Q&A with Charles Paradis of Brandeis Machinery & Supply Co.

Many AED dealers are using the AED Technical Assessment as pre-hire tool. We asked Charles Paradis, VP Human Resources and Compliance for Brandeis Machinery & Supply Co. in Louisville,,KY several questions about his experience using AED Technical Assessments. This is what he had to say about the benefits of using this hiring and training tool.

How does the AED technical assessments help you maintain a quality service technician staff?
The AED technical assessment provides numerous benefits that help us maintain a quality technician staff. It is useful in hiring decisions as well as developing existing technicians. It aids our trainers in knowing where our employees need additional training, and can help our managers identify top performers and those with increased aptitude.

How have AED technical assessments helped you in the hiring process? Have they saved you money?
Every applicant takes the AED technical assessment as part of the screening process during application. It is one of two assessments we ask our applicants to take, the other being a personality assessment. That being said, it is just one piece of many that we consider when looking at an applicant. Also, we recognize that not everyone has an equal ability as a test taker so the assessment is never used as a pass/fail criteria.

We track everyone who has every taken the assessment for us and create a rough scale identifying where the applicant falls in relation to others who have taken the assessment for us. We classify someone as having a score in one of the four quartile’s of assessment takers, and also note whether someone in the top quartile also fell within the top 10% of assessment takers for us.

The AED technical assessment helps us understand where an applicant’s skills and abilities may lie. It is particularly useful since it breaks out an applicant’s score into different categories, identifying where the applicant may be strong or weak. The assessment can also help us identify whether the applicant would be more suited for our apprentice program rather than going directly into our shop or one of our field service trucks.

At a minimum, the technical assessment saves us money by identifying an applicant’s current skill level and where he or she needs additional training.

Do you currently use AED technical assessments for existing service technicians? If so, how has it benefited your company?
After seeing such success using the AED technical assessment for technician applicants, we are beginning to roll it out to our existing employees. We would like to ensure every one of our technicians has taken the assessment. Our trainers are excited about the ability to get useful data on our technicians that they can then use to improve directed training where needed. Our managers are also excited about having existing technicians take the technical assessment to help ensure we are putting the best and most qualified personnel in the field and that we are doing everything in our power to provide our employees with feedback and training necessary to help them in their careers.

Interested in how AED Technical Assessments can help your dealership? Visit for more information.

25 Years of Building a Model for Dealer Success

Article by: Dennis Vander Molen, 2016 Chairman, The AED Foundation

In April of 1991, The AED Foundation (AEDF) was founded with the mission to enhance the success of member companies by encouraging continuous learning, providing educational opportunities for today’s employees, and improving the availability and quality of equipment industry employees in the future.

This month marks exactly 25 years as an organization and we are taking this opportunity to look back at how The AED Foundation has impacted our industry with the following:

  • Creation of national technical standards for college diesel technician curriculums
  • AED Foundation Accreditation Program that currently has 40 accredited programs at 30 colleges in U.S. and Canada
  • Development and implementation of technician pre-hire assessment
  • Development of industry-specific professional education delivered via webinars, seminars and online courses
  • Certification of over 80 managers at AED dealer members as a part of our certified manager training

New Features of the AED Foundation in 2016

The AED Foundation has already taken strides to enhance member’s services. A new Learning Management System allowing access to webinars in a live & “on demand” feature was implemented. If you haven’t already, take a couple moments to view this new system at

The Foundation has consistently been the champion for workforce development. AEDF commissioned a team of public policy researchers from the College of William and Mary to analyze the industry’s technician shortage based on a 2015 survey of AED’s members in North America. The report was release at 2016 AED Summit provides a series of recommendations including improvements to federal workforce policy and steps to strengthen community-based relationships for recruiting and developing talent. Full report can be found at

In February I visited with representatives in Washington D.C. to discuss how we can lead changes to many of the workforce issues identified in the report. AED will continue to build these relationships but I encourage you to do the same on a local level. Send the Skills report to your governor, elected official and anyone on a state level involved in workforce funding. If you have questions about the report please reach out to Steve Johnson at (630) 468-5134.

The AED Foundation accredited its first Canadian diesel technology college program. This affiliation is an important part of the Foundation’s school partnership strategy for North America; as well as AED’s strategy for Canadian members. In addition, the networking of college diesel-equipment technology programs across North America is beneficial for all the schools as well as the equipment industry. The Foundation has identified additional programs in Canada that could lead to additional accreditations.

Looking Forward

As we look ahead to the next 25 years, The AED Foundation is dedicated to continuously develop school partnership programs based on industry needs in partnership with AED-affiliated dealers, manufacturers, technical colleges, and volunteers.

However, AED dealers need to be involved in the development of industry too. I challenge you to step back and think about how you are currently using AEDF services. If the answer is not at all…why is that? The Foundation has many industry-specific services (seminars, webinars and certifications) to assist you as a company to grow and develop your talent pool. Start working with an AEDF accredited technical school if you aren’t already. Developing technicians takes time and resources, start planning now for you dealership future.

Finally support the future of the AED Foundation by investing in the 2016 Annual Campaign. You are supporting the progress The AED Foundation is making for the construction equipment industry as whole! Your tax-deductible donation will allow us to continue serving you better. Visit (case sensitive) to contribute online or contact Rebecca Lintow at (630) 468-5113;