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No matter the industry, building a reliable, qualified and dedicated team is the foundation to any company’s success and growth. In the construction industry, this sentiment is especially pertinent considering how many moving, collaborative parts are involved in a standard project’s completion.

While most construction leaders and business owners understand that hiring the right people is crucial, it’s well known that there is currently a tight candidate market in the industry. This comes at a time when many firms expect business growth. To adequately reap the benefits of this projected growth, businesses will need to find a way to fill important positions and overcome the labor scarcity. Here’s some advice on how to do that successfully.

Clearly Define What the Right Hire Looks Like

There are obvious experiential and educational qualifications that hiring managers should look for when considering candidates, but selecting the right person also means looking at additional, equally important factors.

It’s up to each individual construction executive to decide what their ideal candidate looks like. Ideally, they will assess if a candidate has the proper credentials, but they’ll also look at whether that person blends well with their company culture, plans to stick around long term and has solid references and a clean background check. It’s important that those in charge of hiring paint a clear picture of who would best serve team morale and the company as a whole, as success resides in specificity.

Understand That Hiring Someone Is a Big Investment

Because the labor shortage is such a prevalent issue in construction, poor, rushed hires naturally happen. While it may seem worth it to take on a candidate who is either underqualified or doesn’t mesh well with a company’s culture when deadlines are a concern, holding out for the right person is almost always the more beneficial option.

There is a fairly large financial and time investment associated with bringing on a new hire; the details of these costs are highlighted below:

Possible Financial Costs of Hiring a New Candidate:

  • Fees associated with advertising or marketing the position;
  • Third-party recruiter fees; 
  • Onboarding, relocation, or travel fees;
  • Salary; and 
  • Bonuses, benefits or office perks. 

Possible Time Expenses:

  • Advertising the position;
  • Reviewing resumes;
  • Conducting interviews;
  • Checking backgrounds/references;
  • Negotiating the hiring contract; and
  • Providing training opportunities.

Because the cost of bringing someone new onboard is so sizeable, the cost of bringing on a candidate who doesn’t work out is even more so. Loss of productivity and diminished quality are common ailments when bad hires occur, which can also lead to a stressful workplace that negatively affects existing employees. Financially speaking, it’s estimated that a bad hire can cost a company around 30 percent of their first year’s salary.

How do Bad Hires Happen?

To prevent paying a high price for hiring the wrong person and to increase the odds of a new candidate working out, construction business leaders should take time to understand the main reasons why bad hires occur in the first place. Here are the most common culprits:

  • The person in charge of hiring didn’t properly vet the candidate by checking references or conducting a background check. 
  • The company needed to fill a position immediately and rushed into the hiring process.
  • The hiring manager had other duties to perform and couldn’t dedicate adequate time to the hiring process. 
  • There was a shortage of qualified labor. 
  • The person in charge of hiring was not experienced in interviewing and assessing candidates.
Recruit the Right Candidates

It’s clear that practicing patience when searching for the right hire will garner significantly more ROI than rushing to bring someone in will. While it’s easier said than done, there are ways to find qualified candidates even with a labor shortage. Here are some tips to get started:

1. Make a clear, specific job description when advertising the position.
If the description is vague, candidates may be confused on whether they are qualified, preventing them from applying. From what software platforms candidates should be familiar with to what benefits/perks are offered, the listing should be highly detailed and adequately describe the position.

2. Construction companies need to optimize for user engagement with their websites, making it easy for candidates to apply for jobs and research information. An ideal website should also highlight the business’ company culture and unique personality so job seekers can decide if they’d want to consider working there. Just as employers screen for compatibility with a potential hire, job seekers do the exact same thing when seeking employment, especially when they have a skill that is in high demand.

3. Assess for culture fit along with qualifications. An employee who fits in well with a company has a much higher chance of sticking around long-term and contributing to higher team morale.

4. Check references. This seems obvious, but there are still a handful of employers who skip this part. Asking past employers about a candidate’s performance quality, how well they worked with others, how long they stuck around and the reason they left can offer invaluable insight into that candidate’s potential. It is always worth the time investment.

5. Choose executive recruiters who specialize in construction. If a construction exec chooses to use hiring professionals, it can free up their time and allow those who are well-versed in the art of recruiting, interviewing and hiring to take the reins. It’s always best for them to choose a firm that specializes in construction, as specialty recruiters will know the industry well and may already have a pool of qualified candidates on hand. This will significantly speed up the hiring process.

6. Offer training programs and apprenticeships to younger workers. If millennials aren’t coming to the construction industry, then construction executives have to find creative ways to get them in the door. Programs aimed at young workers who are in the stages of choosing their careers may help alleviate the stress of the growing skills gap.

7. Jump on a good opportunity. If a candidate seems like they check off all of the boxes needed to be a standout employee, don’t wait to make an offer. The construction industry is in short supply of qualified workers and if they are a good fit for one construction company, it’s safe to assume other companies will make them offers as well.

The right hire is someone who has the skills for the job, the personality to help add enthusiasm to their workplace and the desire to stick around long term and grow with their company. In an industry that’s projected to keep expanding, the labor shortage is an obstacle all construction business owners must face head-on. Being specific about what they want in a new hire coupled with demonstrating the patience and creativity needed to attract and recruit the right employees will help fill the important positions they need to succeed.

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