How to Fill Hard-to-Fill Jobs in a Tight Labor Market

When people in traditionally hard-to-fill jobs experience a company that offers a career instead of a job, they recognize the difference.

The U.S. Department of Labor & Statistics released its July unemployment figures on August 3 and for most Americans, the national unemployment rate – under 3.9% - was a reason to cheer. But for those of us in human resources, the report was received with a measure of concern…

Where am I going to find the people I need to staff my restaurants, operate fulfillment centers, recycle pallets, and build construction projects?

Truth be told, low unemployment rates make it a buyers’ market for jobseekers, particularly in service and manual labor industries. And if a company is fortunate to find and hire people, keeping them is an ongoing challenge. There always seems to be another job people are happy to jump to that pays a little more per hour, that’s a little closer to home, is not so tough, or has better benefits.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret – it doesn’t have to be that way. You can stop the job hoppers. The way you do it is stop treating your positions like jobs. Treat them as careers.

What do I mean by that? A job is something you do and BOOM! You’re done. A career is more than a job; it’s something with a future. A career engages people, making them feel valued and part of something bigger than a paycheck.

48forty has more than 2,200 team members, many who hold demanding, physical jobs rebuilding wooden pallets, operating forklifts, driving tractor-trailers, and managing plants. Many people would see these as jobs, but you’d be surprised to learn we have team members who have been with the company 5, 10, 15 and even 25 plus years.


Take Dwight Solis in our Columbus, Ohio facility. An Air Force veteran, he joined 48forty in 2013 as a temporary driver and within months was hired full time. He continued to excel at his job and soon began training the company’s other drivers.

This year, Dwight was promoted to plant supervisor. Of the part-time job that became a full time career, Dwight says,

“What I like are the people and learning new things. This is a fun and fast-paced environment that has a lot of variety, which always keeps the job interesting. If you’re a hard working person, you will fit right in here and advance quickly.”

Therein lies the secret: Dwight may have taken a job, but he was given a career.

48forty works very hard to give people, regardless of where they start, an opportunity to be successful. This is true for our saw room operators, truck drivers, and our IT and sales teams. Look at me. I started as a call center operator – not exactly a sexy job – and now I’m a VP of HR.

Here are some of things we provide to each person who joins our team:

  • A consistent, 40-hour work week. While this seems like table stakes, many service and low-skill jobs don’t always provide full-time hours.
  • A clear path forward for advancement. Show up every day, work hard and you’ll advance.
  • Mentorship and training to build skills and confidence.
  • A culture and work environment that puts safety first.
  • Employee benefits that include health, dental and a 401(k).
  • Paid vacation days. Whether we like our careers or not, we need time off to re-energize!

When people in traditionally hard to fill jobs experience a company that offers these things, they recognize the difference. And they stay with us. Wouldn’t you?

Before I leave you, I’ll share some advice to those considering a career with our company from Nicole Bende, who joined 48forty in 2004 as an administrator and today is a regional office manager who mentors and trains other 48forty office manager across the country:

“If you like being part of a team, multitasking and creative thinking; go for it! We would love to have you at our ever-changing and growing company!”

And that’s the difference between a career and a job.


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