No field service experience? No problem.

Today’s field service industry executive, business owner or recruiter may have to think outside the box to attract new talent. One strategy is to recruit candidates from outside the service industry who have transferable skills, such as tech-savvy office workers who are tired of their cubicles.

Prioritizing Transferable Skills

Vele Galovski, vice president of the Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA), says companies need to recruit for where the industry is going, not where it’s been. “This makes the hiring of candidates with transferrable skills a necessity,” he says.

Vele Galovski

Vele Galovski

The demographics of many field service organizations show an aging workforce nearing retirement age. Coupled with the increasing complexity of installed bases and a diminishing talent pool to recruit from, the need for innovative action on the talent recruitment front is critical.

“What makes recruiting such a difficult challenge for the industry is that they haven’t spent much time on hiring or recruiting for many years,” says Galovski. “It’s been a downsizing exercise and the old guides are focused on the old business model.”

In a recent research paper, Galovski points out these changing field service industry skill sets as an area where recruiters should focus when trying to attract new talent to the industry.

“An assessment of current skills compared to where the industry is going will identify gaps,” says Galovski. “These gaps will give an idea of who needs to be recruited and where transferable skills with internal training are a better fit.”

Moonlighting in Field Service

But finding those candidates with transferable skills is the trick. One surprising source could be corporate employees who, despite no formal field service experience, are tech-savvy and eager for a change.

One selling point of the field service industry is the people component, which a desk job might not offer, says Elliot Lasson, adjunct professor of industrial and organizational psychology at the University of Maryland and president of Lasson Talent Solutions.

Recruiters might tap into entry-level people or even more experienced individuals who feel stifled by a corporate environment. — Elliot Lasson

“Field service offers daily interaction with customers for whom they are delivering products or services,” Lasson says. “Recruiters might tap into entry-level people or even more experienced individuals who feel stifled by a corporate environment.”

As uncommon as a move from a corporate office to field service might sound, Lasson predicts field service leaders could soon leverage so-called sharing economy services (think Uber and Airbnb) in field service. Platforms such as Work Market and Field Nation already enable service leaders to hire freelance technicians, but Lasson predicts that future services might even accept outsiders with a knack for fixing things.

Just as people now moonlight as Uber drivers, new services could attract people who have regular day jobs but are also interested in freelancing to earn extra income. If that secondary channel becomes more desirable (and lucrative), people might be drawn to the field service industry on a full-time basis, Lasson says.

ABOUT Matt Krumrie

Matt Krumrie is a career columnist and professional resume writer who writes about a wide variety of career, job search, workplace and HR-related topics.