Hiring the best-qualified candidate who fits the company culture is PMPs’ top priority. “If (job applicants) happen to be a different culture or different age group, even better,” said Emilio Polce, Eco Choice Termite & Pest Control.

Nearly three-quarters of pest management companies do not take specific actions to attract and recruit diverse job candidates, found the 2018 PCT-NPMA Workforce Diversity Survey (73 percent).

Others (9 percent) advertise on job boards dedicated to minority audiences. Some post on NPMA’s PestVets website to attract veterans, as well as participate in career fairs on military bases. Angie Persinger, human resources manager at Rose Pest Solutions, brings employees who are vets to events at the Great Lakes Naval Station. “They seem to have their own way of talking with each other and getting each other on board with things,” she explained.

Sprague Pest Solutions attends career events geared to specific populations and income levels and does outreach at local community colleges and universities. Cook’s Pest Control has booths at historically black and traditional colleges to attract business majors.

Companies also recruit people with disabilities. Ken Yarrington, owner of KenX Pest Control in Chariton, Iowa, grew up around “handi-capable” people. “They have a place here, too, and they can work very well given the right positions,” he said.

Other tactics include robust employee referral programs, tweaking job descriptions (to emphasize flexible work hours for women, fluency in Spanish for Hispanic candidates, “we hire veterans” language) and updating website and marketing material photos to show the company welcomes diversity. The survey found that 5 percent of companies featured minority employees in advertising.

The NPMA diversity committee plans to unveil a new website to help members recruit and retain diverse candidates. Professional Women In Pest Management, another NPMA group, has local networks to attract new women to the industry.

An easy way to cultivate diversity is to recruit all the time, such as when you receive great customer service from someone. “You’re out there among so many different people every day,” reminded Faye Golden, Cook’s Pest Control.

Yarrington said newspaper ads worked for him in the past when hiring, but he realized other means may be necessary to reach different candidates. “In my stubbornness, not going out to those places, I might miss the best qualified,” he said.