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Three Easy Techniques to Improve Your Construction Talent Pool

By Michelle Stedman
Director of Talent Acquisition

You’ve heard the latest construction industry employment stats. Nationally we lost 1.6 million workers between 2006 and 20111. This, plus the fact that fewer people are entering the construction and skilled trades industries, makes recruiting top talent … challenging. Whether you are looking to grow your business or trying to get back to pre-recession levels, recruiting the best people for your team is critically important to the success of your business.

In order to find people that fit your culture and possess the appropriate skill set, you need to approach recruiting from a marketing perspective. After you’ve locked down an engaging job description, today’s great talent acquisition starts with creating the best applicant flow and online job traffic possible for your open position. Following this checklist can help ensure you make the most of your online recruiting outreach for those hard-to-fill construction and skilled labor positions.

Technique 1: Examine your Job Distribution and your Referral Network Open Rates
Screen your list of jobs and review the positions that are and are not performing. Copy the outreach strategies of those that are performing for those that are not. Also, make sure you have configured your applicant tracking system (ATS) to distribute your jobs to the top construction industry online sites. When thinking about your distribution process, ask yourself the following:

  • Are the jobs posted to your career page on your corporate website?

o Are your jobs being distributed to the appropriate niche job boards for construction and skilled trades? Are they also being distributed to general job boards like Monster and Career Builder?

  • Have you distributed your jobs among your referral networks? Referral networks can come from anywhere—professional organizations, local organizations, universities and trade schools.
  • Do you have the capability in your ATS to make sure your networks are opening your emails? If so, check to make sure your referral networks are, in fact, opening your emails to them. If they are not, call and let them know your positions are available.
  • Work with your local and national targeted referral groups and support them with training, mentoring or job shadowing programs. Network to find additional contacts within that organization.

Technique 2: Review the Content of your Job Ad
To get the most attention for your ad, use construction-industry standard job titles such as equipment operator or laborer, instead of a title that is unique to your company. Try looking online to verify the title is common in the market. Ask yourself if construction job seekers will understand what you seek. Is what you are looking for clearly stated (i.e., not just a list of requirements)? This is a great time to review your content. Is the position terminology relevant?

  • Construction industry recruiting specialists suggest you use industry terminology for people to find you. Don’t get creative. Emphasize title or skill and location. Also include relevant job position keywords for search engine optimization.

When you have nailed down the position description of the job ad, craft your company story. Remember, it should sell your company and your differentiators. You want the best person, but those top performers don’t want to work for just any company. They want to work for the best. They might even be currently employed, so making yourself unique, interesting and engaging is important.

The following components are essential to an effective construction industry job ad:

  • Information/history about the company
  • Introduction that describes your company culture
  • Details about the job
  • Minimum requirements
  • A “day in the life” description of what the position entails
  • Benefits – what makes yours the best company to work for?
  • Salary range or pay structure (hourly, base plus commission, overtime)
  • How to apply

After you post the position, try it yourself and search for the job on the web. How easy is it to find?

Technique 3: Generate More Exposure: Multiple Channels
Recruiting from your company career page is important, but not enough. Use all of the recruiting channels that are available to you. Many of them are online and may come in the form of social media. A 2013 study by the Society for Human Resource Management found that 77 percent of employers are using social networks to recruit, a sharp increase from the 56 percent who reported doing so in 2011. If you haven’t started using social networks, it’s time to start because your competition most likely is.

  • Make sure that your job opportunities are posted on your website

 Candidates need a place to go to validate their interest and find out more.

  • Use LinkedIn

 Start discussions through construction industry specific groups like Construction Jobs and Construction Professionals Forum.
 Send out job alerts to your own network of contacts. Many of them are in the same business that you are.

  • Use Facebook

 Talk with your employees about sharing your jobs through their personal Facebook page to friends and family.

Your existing candidate pool can also be a great channel to tap when looking for job applicants. If you have an ATS, search for past candidates and send them an email to re-apply for the new position. Every day, past applicants gain more knowledge and experience. Just because you didn’t use them in the past, doesn’t mean they won’t qualify in the future. This is your talent community. Whenever you communicate with candidates, be sure to ask for referrals and invite candidates to pass your information on to friends.

You may also have access to an external resume database. Be sure you search the external database for possible candidates that could qualify for your position and send them an email inviting them to apply.

Bonus Technique 4: Still Searching for Ways to Improve Job Ad Performance? Outsource.
Some positions are just extremely difficult to fill. It might make sense to outsource the candidate sourcing for a particular position. Often, your ATS provider can work with you to create a profile of what you want and then the team goes to work to score potential applicants using a talent marketing tool.

1AGC Analysis, “Hire Power,” Constructor magazine July/August 2013

Michelle Stedman is the director of talent acquisition for BirdDog. Her multi-faceted background in corporate recruiting and agency staffing gives her a unique perspective into sourcing solutions.