To give you insight into the different companies that recruit TWS graduates, we spoke with Mark Joseph, Talent Acquisition (TA) Program Manager with TDIndustries at their headquarters in Dallas, Texas.
Thanks for your time Mark; before we start, please tell us a little about you.
I have been with TDIndustries (TD) just over a year, but I have been in recruitment for 18 years. I’ve worked in recruitment in a number of industries from government, to commercial real estate, and manufacturing.
Please give us a brief overview of TDIndustries.
Established in 1946, we are one of America’s premier mechanical construction and facility services companies. We serve clients through the full life cycle of a facility, to include engineering, construction, operations and maintenance.
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What is the role of a TA Program Manager?
My role is to identify institutions/organizations that offer training programs we can benefit from and build relationships and partnerships with them. Not only build relationships, but to find ways to improve them, ultimately building a pipeline of quality candidates to fill the hiring needs of TDIndustries.
How long has the relationship with TWS been in place, and how did it get started?
Quite some time, especially with our Houston location. I don’t know what initiated the relationship, but when I came on board and connected with one of my Houston Partners, Wayburn Henry, I was excited to learn he had an existing relationship with Tulsa Welding School. Wayburn was a recruiter but has moved into a scheduling manager role; he works closely within our construction team business unit. He attends TWS Advisory Board committee meetings, participates in job fairs, things of that nature.
Why did the existing relationship with TWS excite you?
Because I worked with TWS in my previous role…for about four years actually…working with the Tulsa, OK, campus. I find value in the curriculum that they teach, in the accessibility that students have to instructors and career services. They also coordinate events throughout the year to engage employers…they do a lot of things that TD is receptive to. It’s always a plus when an institution like TWS works together with business to offer skilled graduates more opportunities.
Please outline your recruitment process.
We always tell the students to defer back to their instructors and the career services team because we highly value the recommendations of those individuals. If a student is interested in TD, we ask that they go to their instructor or career services and say so. If the school thinks they are suitable, they will refer the student’s information over to us. That’s how we know we have a top-notch student.
At that point we have a recruiter reach out to make sure they have the application, (our applications are all online) and we help them through the process. From the application, our recruiters will do their screening process. If the student moves through that, then we will schedule a manager level interview. If they get the thumbs up from there, then the student receives an offer and is given their pre-employment package online. Once that’s cleared, we bring them on as a Partner in the organization.
I notice you say “Partner” rather than employee?
I say Partner because we are 100% privately held and an employee-owned organization. All Partners are given the opportunity to own a portion of the company if they elect to take part in the employee stock option program (ESOP).
I also notice you didn’t mention a weld test in that process.
Weld tests are different in each of our locations. Within Texas alone we have Houston, Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Richardson. Each one, because they are different businesses, have different processes. When students talk with a recruiter, they’ll let them know if they can anticipate a test.
So, a weld test isn’t part of the hiring decision?
Not at all. It just depends what skill set is required in that location for that role. A weld test does not have a hiring decision impact, it’s more to assess skill levels. Typically, when we have positions open, we might have an apprentice or entry-level welder, or a pipefitter or two, and a journeyman. The weld test helps us determine where we can place an individual. We know that individuals coming from school won’t necessarily have the experience level we would want, but we are willing to train them.
What does impact the hiring decision then?
If they come with the right personality, attitude, a willingness to learn; if they interview well and can talk knowledgably about the type of welding processes they learned, the mistakes they made…if they are the right fit, we will move forward with them. We look for good employees, good Partners, who will become good welders. Not necessarily good welders who might not be good Partners.
How many Tulsa graduates have you hired recently?
We have taken on five on board in the past six months.
Do you only recruit students from the Houston campus?
No; but I haven’t been to the Tulsa location in a while, and I haven’t gotten to Jacksonville yet, but I do deal with the Arizona location – I was their just last week. RSI [Tulsa’s sister school] started a welding program in Phoenix a couple of years ago. We don’t just hire welders. Houston also recently added an HVAC program, so we are able to take advantage of both skill sets in each location.
Do TWS graduates stand out when you are looking to recruit?
They do. We have invested time in the school, and they have engaged us in getting our input. We know the learning process that students go through. It’s an established relationship; we know we are getting their top students when we get referrals. Importantly we receive those emails directly; they tell us who the student is, what they’ve done, what they’ve accomplished…and this is why we recommend them…so they definitely stand out. It also gives students an advantage because they are not just blindly going into our Applicant Tracking System and joining a pile… we get a lot of applications. It’s like a back door.
What kind of qualities do you notice in the TWS graduates who work for you?
They take pride in their work; they get on well with others, they want to learn more, and they are driven to be successful.
Does the hands-on practice that students get at TWS give them an advantage?
Absolutely. Practical application, hands on time in the shop, makes a big a difference. That’s not to take away the importance of what they learn in the classroom because that’s absolutely necessary, but the more they can use their hands and be comfortable welding, the better off they are. A lot of programs out there offer limited time in the shop.
Does TDIndustries have a formal training program?
We do, but each location has something different. I can tell you this; with us it’s about the whole person. Development and training are a way of life here. All of our Partners are required to do 32 hours of training a year. For our trades Partners, 100% of their craft training is paid for by the company. One of our core values is “Passionately Pursue Excellence.” That’s what we strive for through continuous development of the whole person, making sure they have a platform on which they can advance their career. Partners have endless opportunities to train.
What advice do you have for students to have a chance of getting hired at TDIndustries?
Don’t just stop at learning to weld. Always be open to learning more. Be serious about your craft – practice makes perfect. Don’t get comfortable welding in one position or on one machine, step outside your comfort zone. Try different things to continue to build your skills. Push yourself to progress. Having a positive attitude will carry you a long way. What separates you from the person next to you? Whether you realize it or not, you are always competing, even with a friend that’s going through class with you.
Students can talk to their instructors, but how can TWS graduates/alumni get in touch?
They can go to our website, but they can also email us at [email protected]. However you reach out please make sure that Tulsa Welding School is mentioned on your application and your résumé! It helps you stand out, and helps us continue to track the relationship.