PALM HARBOR, Fla. (FOX 13) - Jonathan Delgado has been on the job at Palm Harbor Homes for six months now and is a wiz with a drill. But, he says, it didn't start out so smooth. "Tape measure man! I didn't know how to read 1/8 and 3/8, or you know, none of that!"
Palm Harbor Homes supervisor Mario Mitchell says about 90% of new employees have no experience at all. He used to be one of those new guys. "I knew nothing about construction build to save my life!" he recalls.
The company cranks out over 300 manufactured houses a year. In doing so, they've had to embrace the inexperienced. "It's tough finding good people, qualified people," says Vice President Mark Kelly. "Obviously, we'd love to have a skilled craftsman show up and put him on the line immediately, but that's not always the case."
That's not the case because the job market is flooded with opportunity right now.
Florida's unemployment rate is at 3.3% and the state added nearly 22,000 jobs in December.
Jamie Conley is Regional President with Robert Half Recruiting (https://www.roberthalf.com/fl-tampa). He says one good candidate usually has about 3 to 4 offers on the table by the time they accept a position. It's forcing companies across many industries to relax hiring requirements and implement on-the-job training. "Companies know their perfect person who checks all the boxes, it’s just not out there right now," says Conley
In such a competitive market, it's not just hiring that's tough. Companies need to be creative to keep employees as well. "If they aren't getting what they need from their current organization, and that organization isn't trying to retain them, they are jumping ship," explains Conley.
Along with a competitive pay starting at $11.50 an hour, Palm Harbor Homes entices employees with holiday, performance and referral bonuses. "We've got to make sure people are incentivized to come to work, show up on time," says Mark Kelly.
Experts say these are perks that can benefit both employer and employees, like Mario, in the end. "I came in, I knew nothing! They stuck with me, so I owe that much to this company to stick with them," he says.
Conley says the takeaway for those looking for work is simple, don't hold back! If you don't quite match up with all of the requirements in a job posting, don't let that scare you into not applying.