How We Staffed a New Uranium Mine

Last year I started a series of posts describing how I went about developing and executing the strategy to staff the new uranium mine my company recently built.  I decided that I don’t like the series and decided to just write up a new single post instead.

Here it is…

I was given the task to hire 50 employees in south central Wyoming to staff and operate our in-situ uranium mine, the newest – and one of only six – in the US. Because of the permitting process and the uncertainty of timing, I was given only two months to fill 50 jobs. In addition to the short time frame, the local job market was very tight and the skill-sets needed to staff the mine were very specialized and rare.

So I developed a three part strategy.

First, I identified and developed relationships with the key people in the communities – these included city and county politicians, the heads of the workforce centers and business councils, media/journalists, education leaders, chamber leaders, etc. I made a lot of phone calls, knocked on a lot of doors, and visited the communities telling people the Ur-Energy story. I gave formal presentations in front of council meetings and met with people in their offices and in a coffee shops. I continued to keep them in the loop sharing new news by emailing, calling or visiting with them when I was in town. This helped the folks in the communities put a face to the company and engendered their strong support.

Next, I had to determine the local skill-set inventory, which I was able to accomplish, in large part, through my relationships with the key community members. I discovered that the current major employers in the area had jobs with skill-sets that could transfer to our operation. I also was able to determine the best way to advertise the job through some trial and error along with local input and advice. Radio was by far the most effective means and generated nearly 90% of our candidate flow.

Finally, I designed an efficient in house hiring system that enabled us to process the nearly 300 candidates and 50 new hires. I started by running radio ads designed to reach currently employed candidates. I backed that up with newspaper ads and Workforce Services opened up their offices for s series of job fairs throughout the month and a half. I trained our supervisors how to conduct effective interviews and made them practice by role-playing. I also set up a candidate tracking system, local drug screening process, background screening, and established an on-boarding procedure.

The end result was completing the hiring campaign ahead of schedule and right on budget. Hiring 50 candidates who had the skills or transferable skills to do the specialized jobs needed at the mine. In addition, the turnover rate was 24% compared to the 90-100% expected by management from their previous start up experience.

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