How To Hire the Right Jetter Operator

An industry professional offers advice on hiring the right jetter operator for your drain cleaning business.
How To Hire the Right Jetter Operator
Whether your current combination unit or jetter operator quits, is reassigned or is out for an extended period of time, finding a quick replacement can be a challenge.

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Whether your current combination unit or jetter operator quits, is reassigned or is out for an extended period of time, finding a quick replacement can be a challenge.

In an ideal world, you would have plenty of time to find individuals with the necessary set of skills, and gradually train them into the kind of operators you need. But more often than not, you don’t have that luxury.

Hire with care

The urgency of the situation can make you rush through the hiring process. You take a set of candidates, evaluate them, and pick the best one. This may not be the best plan of action. If the best candidate doesn’t meet your needs, then you are wasting your time. There is no shame in holding out for someone better. The human resources department may not like it, but resist the temptation to settle for someone just because it is easy. No matter how desperate you are, take the time to make sure you find the right individuals that are able to meet your needs in every area.

If you want an operator to step into the jetter role immediately, then you must find someone that is experienced, but is also familiar with your type of jetting equipment.

Weed out the pretenders

Some applicants will embellish their resumes. There’s no way around it. They exaggerate their experience and knowledge in hopes of landing the job. For example, someone may have some exposure to jetting, but will turn around and present him or herself as a full-fledged working operator. Use specific and technical questioning during an interview to expose inaccuracies and reveal faulty information.

To ensure you get a jetter operator that is knowledgeable and can fulfill your immediate needs, conduct a full vetting of the candidate during the interview process. Don’t rely solely on verbal claims of their ability and skill. Part of the interview process should include a hands-on demonstration by the candidate to showcase their ability. This should take place on the piece of equipment they will be expected to operate in order to prove they have the necessary experience. This simple test will help guarantee the right candidate with the right set of skills is selected.

Trainer approved

Even with prior experience, new jetter operators will need a training period in order to learn new policies and procedures. Any bad habits carried over from their last employer should be identified and dealt with accordingly. The job description and work performance expectations should be carefully defined and clearly understood.

New employees are most attentive and receptive during this initial phase of training. Molding them at this stage is easiest and will only become more difficult as time progresses. This time should be used wisely to ensure they are properly trained and set up for success.

The trainer is training a mirror of himself. If the trainer is incompetent, the new employee will be incompetent. Making sure the person doing the training is capable, competent and knowledgeable is critical.

Effective training requires a well thought-out plan. This ensures each key point is covered and nothing is overlooked. A plan keeps the trainer on course and guarantees the trainees are prepared in a timely manner and out working as soon as possible.

Cleaning skills

Proper cleaning skills require a variety of jetting nozzles. Training should cover multiple cleaning scenarios and the use of the right nozzle for each situation. Jetter operators must understand the various categories of nozzles including penetrators, standard nozzles, rotating nozzles and mechanical cutters. They must know which nozzles to use when removing root balls, cleaning pipe walls and removing debris, and that each of these functions requires a different nozzle.

Jetter operators should understand the use of 10 types of nozzles and their specific applications, so they can clean pipe effectively in at least 90 percent of the situations encountered.

Maintenance of equipment is critical in the pipeline cleaning business. New and old employees should be continuously reminded to take thorough care of their vehicle and jetter equipment. Jetters and combination units have a number of filters that must be cleaned on a regular basis. If these filters are neglected or are not maintained properly, serious and costly damage could result. Train operators on proper maintenance procedures and hold them accountable.

Finding the right jetter operator is not easy, but it is possible with patience and perseverance. Holding out for the right person will pay off in the long run so your pipeline cleaning program remains successful.

About the Author
Jim Aanderud is owner of Innerline Engineering, a video pipeline inspection company based in Corona, Calif.


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