“Where do you guys all hang out?”
That was the question I was asked a few years ago by a young female recruiter for a large temporary agency. She had called on day when I wasn’t too terribly busy at my shop. Normally, I wouldn’t have had a lot of time to spend with non-business related calls but, like I said… I had a little extra time that day.
She started off the conversation by introducing herself and asking if I could help provide her some assistance in finding machinists to fill vacancies she currently had in her agency. The conversation went something like this…
Headhunter: Can you tell me, where do you guys all hang out?
Me: What do you mean?
Headhunter: I’m having a little trouble finding machinists in the area.
Me: Ok, what are the qualifications you’re looking for and how much are you willing to offer as a salary?
Headhunter: Well, the requirements are ‘…must be able to read measuring instruments, blueprints…’
Me: ***My eyes were starting to glaze over*** Excuse me. I meant ‘what level of machinist were you looking for’. Asking for a machinist to be able to read his or her measuring tools is like asking a pilot if he knows how to fly.
Headhunter: Oh, I was just reading what the job description says on my printout.
Me: I understand. Do you want a ‘button pusher’ or are you looking for a real machinist? In other words, do you want someone able to make parts to print or do you just want someone with very little experience, to push a button?
Headhunter: I need real machinists.
Me: And how much are you looking to pay?
Headhunter: Between $9.00 and $12.00 an hour.
Me: ***Now I’m dumbfounded*** Really? That much, huh?
Headhunter: Yes, it’s with a great company.
Me: I think you’re misunderstanding me. I think I know why you can’t find machinists.
Me: Because you’re not willing to pay what machinists are worth.
Headhunter: Well, I have a salary range I have to stay within.
Me: And you’ll never fill those vacancies because of the low wages you’re offering.
Headhunter: So what should I do?
Me: You really only have one choice. Either pay an acceptable wage or your jobs will go unfilled.
I’m telling this story because it has stuck with me over time. I’m troubled by the lack of understanding the general population has as to what a machinist is, and the years of experience it takes to produce a top-notch machinist. When I was a younger, single man, I would meet ladies who would ask what I did for a living. My response would be “I’m a machinist.” I cannot tell you have many times the reply would be “Oh really? What kind of cars do you work on?” You’d expect temp agencies to at least know what machinists are and what they’re worth. I mean, it’s their job to be able to match the best qualified applicant for the job, right? One would think a temp agency head hunter would have some grasp of what they’re seeking. Needless to say, I was disappointed.