7 Simple Steps To Dramatically Improve Construction Talent Acquisition


Introduction

If you’re struggling to find and convert candidates in this talent short market, here are our recommendations to secure good talent right now.

Recommendations

  1. Speed to act is crucial
  2. Be transparent with offer details & job expectations
  3. Increase points of contact
  4. Be open to transferable skills
  5. Collect declined-offer feedback
  6. Invest in talent acquisition team training
  7. Use attraction marketing

We’ve detailed each recommendation with supporting reasons and implementation ideas below.

Abstract

Construction job opportunities continue to trend upward with applications per job trending downward. This is likely to continue into the foreseeable future, depending on economic variables.

With an overall reduction in the construction labour market (specifically overseas talent), coupled with a growing pipeline of construction projects from both public and private sector sources, it is safe to say that recruiting construction talent in the current market is a challenge. Record low unemployment rates and high levels of activity on the construction job market mean that the vast majority of construction professionals are gainfully employed and not actively seeking a new opportunity until they are approached directly with potential roles of interest.

Employers are doing everything they can to hold onto their current employees, adding new benefits, updating culture and increasing flexibility, as well as increasing salary packages across all spaces. These increased salaries are pushing up offers prospective businesses are making in trying to secure new talent and people are still being counter-offered to stay with their current businesses.

Current levels of inflation and economic stress are having an effect on construction professionals and both head and sub contractors alike. This only adds another complication to the mix. Unless a candidate has a valid reason to believe their current employer may be in strife, most prefer to stay with a business they know is stable rather than risk moving to a potential “sinking ship”.

So what are the options? How do you hire people when there is a diminished market?

We’ve outlined 7 key points to maintaining success in the current market and the minimum levels required to succeed in securing talent.

Speed to Act

Every day you aren’t in touch with a potential construction candidate is a day that someone else is. Most people are looking into jobs of interest before they even get to the point where they are actively applying for jobs. This means there are multiple points of contact with recruiters and other businesses occurring while they are moving through your recruitment process. Increasing the speed to market and length of time between application and offer is vital in ensuring you secure a positive outcome.

• Act on applications straight away – you snooze, you lose in this market.

• Have the relevant manager involved in the process as early as possible. Construction professionals are busy. Get the candidate talking to their potential manager as soon as possible. Talking to someone ‘on the tools’ builds rapport faster than talking to HR or talent acquisition.

Provide Transparent Offer Details & Job Expectations

Candidates expect an honest process. They want to know what your business offers before they start. Really.

If the job expectations aren’t clear in the negotiation process or the candidate feels they’ve been misled at any stage, they’ll simply choose to take another offer (given it is likely they’ll have multiple offers).

And, if they accept your offer and it doesn’t live up to their expectations, they’ll leave at the earliest opportunity.

• Share salary caps from the get go.

• Be up front with job requirements and employee benefits.

• Explain your company expectations.

• Be truthful about your team culture.

Increase Points of Contact

An employee’s journey with a business doesn’t begin on their first day, it begins when they first apply for a job (or are contacted directly). Ensuring candidates, both successful and unsuccessful, leave the recruitment process with a positive experience is vital to ensuring longevity in both employment and future-talent pools. It also gives your reputation a boost: people remember being treated with respect. Treat them with disdain and you’ll end up with a PR problem.

Lack of contact can also leave a candidate feeling confused and unsure about the decision they have made in making the application. Having standard check-in points is crucial to ensuring success throughout the process.

Suggested touch-points:

• Contact good applicants asap.

• Update the applicant after a phone call or interview within your agreed timeframe.

• Do reference checks when you agreed to.

• If you’ve made a verbal offer, send the formal offer as soon as possible.

• If you have to give bad news to an unsuccessful candidate, just get it done. It’s far worse for a candidate not to know where they stand.

Be Open to Transferable Skills

With a reduced talent pool it becomes important to start using a bigger net. Expanding the areas in which your business looks to hire will provide shorter time frames in achieving results. Looking at candidates from different backgrounds is a must. Finding someone with the culture fit your business needs and providing mentoring and up-skilling will give you a better chance of successfully securing talent.

People who have been given a chance often feel a strong connection to the business that has provided them with the opportunity to grow. Employee loyalty is definitely something worth investing in given today’s job climate.

• Consider which industries have transferable skills to suit your business.

• Assess your current employees – did any have other industry experience prior to joining you?

• Particularly consider industries suitable women candidates may be active in.

Collect Declined-offer Feedback

Providing candidates who have declined offers the opportunity to tell you why allows you to dive into how you sit versus your competitors. It can highlight gaps in your recruitment process & job offers such as pay gaps, culture fit, benefits on offer, sector & project size, etc. It can highlight areas you may not have considered before and allows you to add more refined questions & criteria to your recruitment process.

Asking unsuccessful interviewed candidates for feedback on their experience is also something to invest time in: not only do you find potential ways to improve, a candidate that’s had a positive interaction with your business, regardless of the outcome, is someone you can keep in your talent pool for future opportunity & will speak positively about your business in industry.

• Call to ask for feedback within a week.

• Don’t send feedback forms – construction professionals ain’t got time for those!

• Don’t ask for feedback on the same call as advising someone they’re unsuccessful. Give them time to process and check in with them a week later.

• Remember you’re dealing with people, not numbers, so actually caring about them matters.

Invest in Talent Acquisition Training

Your hiring team needs to be skilled in securing candidates, not just finding them. Ensuring your hiring managers, talent acquisition team and admin teams have a smooth and clear process will ensure that all the above goals are easily achieved and increase conversion ratios for your hires. Keep it simple but be thorough enough to ensure the people you are engaging are the right fit for a job. It’s a fine balance but an important part of maintaining success. Reviewing unsuccessful acquisitions can be a great way to kick-start this process.

• Understand and share your brand points of difference – what do you offer that sets you apart from your competitors?

• Review unsuccessful offers and acquisitions with an ‘exit’ interview with the candidate/employee as well as their manager/s and the hiring person.  Use this information to find more suitable candidates in future.

• Create or add to (and then follow) shortlisting criteria based on the feedback you’ve garnered.

• Utilise ‘attract/recruitment’ marketing & train your team in sales conversion – converting a candidate into an employee is a skill set that can be learned, but it all starts with ensuring you’re trying to convert the best-fit person to begin with.

Use Attraction Marketing

Proactive sourcing is here to stay. Think outreach & ‘attraction’ marketing versus job posting & reactive recruitment. We’ll expand on this in a future article.

Conclusion

Tightening up your selection criteria, attracting the right candidates with your company points of difference, ensuring you act fast on good-fit applicants, building rapport with the right team leaders from the start, widening your search net and continuous improvement of your hiring process are key to improving your construction hiring success in this talent short market.

Construction recruiting has changed and Conecta is here to help you change with it.

Read our latest construction news to stay ahead of industry activity, including what your competitors are doing.

Looking for a way to decrease hiring costs while still hiring the right talent for your next project? Here is how Conecta can help you.


Editorial Director & Managing Editor, Author
Tracey Rojko, Conecta Co-Founder, is Editorial Director & Managing Editor of the Conecta Construction News Blog. Connect with Tracey on LinkedIn.

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