PLATTSBURGH — North Country workers are hard to come by, but ETS says that's the way it should be. 

Recent reports from the New York State Department of Labor have revealed shrinking unemployment rates countywide. 

By June, Clinton County's jobless rate sat at 3.8 percent, down 0.7 percent from 2018. 

With unemployment at a record low, ETS President & CEO Deborah Cleary said trouble finding employees was something to be celebrated. 

"It shouldn’t be easy to hire people," Cleary said. "It should be hard, because it means the economy is strong and it means that people are working.” 

Besides, she added, finding the hirees is what ETS is for. 


ETS Inc. has been an area staffing and recruitment agency for several decades.

The group has a local operation at the U.S. Oval in the City of Plattsburgh, as well as another brick and mortar office just across Lake Champlain in Burlington, Vt. and an access point in Saratoga Springs. 

Vice President of Operations Jesse Krell first joined as a recruiter back in 2013.

Since then, he said, the company's internal team has grown from seven employees to nearly 30. 

"We’ve been in business for over 40 years, but really the last four, five years we’ve undergone some really big changes," Krell said.

"We went from an $8 million revenue company to now pushing the boundaries towards a $20 million company in 2019 and beyond."


Area employers on the hunt for new employees can enlist ETS to do that hiring for them.

The recruitment agency currently has about 95 employers, or clients, that pay for the service.

"You probably don't go out and cut your own hair, you hire someone to do that," Cleary said. "Now companies are realizing more and more that if they are going to hire someone, they're going to go to a company where all they do is hire people."

Director of Marketing and Engagement Amber Parliament said that's especially true in the current North Country climate.

"Hiring and staffing is a full-time job and most companies don't have the resources to do that 24/7," she said. "They have other things that they need to be doing so that they can be successful. 

"That's what they see as the real benefit of partnering with us, because that is our one job. We do that 24/7." 


Recruiting is split into three main search arms: Industrial, Office/Administration and Professional.

The pairing of a job-seeking candidate with an ETS client is done via a matchmaking process, starting with a one-on-one meeting either in person or over the phone. 

That screening is when a candidate's virtual profile is set up with help from an ETS recruiter. 

And at a candidate's first session, Krell said, the recruiter will engage with them to identify any workplace likes and dislikes, as well as their skills and overall career goals. 

"We try to make it really simple," he said. "We understand that a job search can be extremely stressful."

And, Krell added, it's a free service to those candidates. 


In 2019 alone ETS has conducted 4,992 screenings.

Some have assumed that the staffing agency circles the same pool of people, but Cleary said that's just a misconception. 

Of those nearly 5,000 screenings, she said, 2,206 of them were new to ETS. 

"There are constantly new people either coming to the area, or graduating from high school, or graduating from college, or coming back from college," Cleary said. "It’s a stream of people."

And even though unemployment was low, Cleary said, the rate of workers switching jobs was very high. 

"Of the people screened, 78 percent were currently employed at the time," she said. "So they're coming in and looking for new opportunities."


After just one visit, some lucky candidates walk out of ETS employed. 

"For others, it can be a long process," Krell said. "We don't necessarily place people right away. We might not have the right opportunity for over a year."

But when that opportunity does comes along, candidates generally start as an ETS employee who is then contracted out to the matched client.

Krell called the process a "working interview" and said the phase typically lasts 90 days.

Then, the candidate's employment switches from ETS to the area business. 

In mid-September, there were some 500 workers employed by the agency.


ETS said its mission was to build world-class teams. 

Over the years, the agency has teamed up with partners like the North Country Chamber of Commerce and The Development Corporation to attract major industries to the region.

"We feel a big responsibility to help keep them here," Krell said.

And, he added, ETS contributes by keeping those industries staffed. 

"The lifeblood of a company is its workforce," he said. "The people who are actually doing the work and getting the product out the door."



Email McKenzie Delisle:

Twitter: @McKenzieDelisle

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