Tools you must have to recruit the right heavy construction talent

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2 Tools you must have to recruit the right heavy construction talent You would never think of sending your skilled tradespeople to their next job without the right tools. Whether your business is highways, sewers, bridges, or any of the related heavy construction trades, each discipline requires a specific set of tools and skills to get the work done correctly. Recruiting the best employees requires a similar mindset you must equip your organization with the tools necessary for this critical task. Finding qualified heavy construction professionals is challenging, but with a systematic approach and the right combination of techniques, you can locate the people you need, when you need them. Where to start? Maybe your top crane operator just decided to become a full time furniture builder. Or your bridge estimator suddenly relocated to Tahiti. Whatever the reason, your organization needs a new heavy construction professional. Before you pick up the phone and place a last minute ad in Sunday s paper, take a deep breath. You should first answer two questions: Question 1: What position are you filling? What are the skills you must have? What experience is absolutely required to excel in this position? Get out your pencil and a piece of paper. Draw a vertical line down the center of the page. In the left column, write Must Have at the top. In the right column, write Would Like To Have. Then, jot down every detail about what the ideal candidate would possess if he or she were to be a superstar in this position. AGC of Iowa Career Center IPG Page 1

3 Some heavy construction positions require specific certifications. Be certain to include these on your planning sheet. Perhaps you ve discovered that someone with less than three years experience simply can t manage this position so include that as well. Often it s very useful to sketch out a day in the life for this position. Literally walk through a typical day in this position and write down what this person does. You ll find that the description will help you build a realistic job description which is extremely important in attracting the right construction talent. Question 2: What resources are we willing to expend to fill this position? No, this is not a trick question. Instead, think about how important this position is to the organization. For example, a good bridge estimator may save tens of thousands of dollars on a project. Going without a critical position almost always means lost revenue and opportunities for a business. Break down the question even further. How quickly do you want to fill the position (and don t say yesterday )? If there is an immediate need, you may opt for a fast solution, such as online services; if you have some time, you may choose to rely on employee referrals. By determining the cost of NOT filling the position, you can give yourself a sense of how much time and/or money you should be willing to expend. Next step: The job ad After answering the two questions above, you re ready to move forward. Your answers to the first question ( What position are you filling? ) gave you the basic job description. You ll use this information to create a job ad. What s the difference between a job description and a job ad? The job description is just the facts; often a point by point replication of your internal document on the position. It can be, and usually is, a bit boring. The job ad focuses on why this particular position is exciting and attractive to a potential employee while at the same time including the key points about what the job requires and entails. The job ad will make the right job candidate want to contact you. AGC of Iowa Career Center IPG Page 2

4 Entire books have been written about the intricacies of creating the perfect job ad. Suffice it to say that you should include the following: What s in it for the job seeker? Why should they work for your company? What s different and unique? What does the right candidate have to possess? Certifications? Experience? Skills? What should they do next, i.e. should they ? Call? Walk in? What do you really want? Before evaluating your available recruiting tools, ask yourself this question: What outcome do you really expect? Perhaps you immediately said, A hire! Let s think about that for a minute. Can a job advertisement in a newspaper or online actually give you a hire? Of course not. Only you can make the final hiring decision. Let s discuss what precedes a hire. Quite a few job interviews, of course. So can a job advertisement produce a job interview? Again, no you must make the decision on whom you wish to interview. So what exactly can a job ad produce? Applications! A job ad should get the right candidates to contact you plain and simple. So you should make a simple back of theenvelope calculation: _#_ applications _#_ interviews 1 hire Example: 50 applications = 10 interviews = 1 hire; in this case, to make one hire, you want to receive 50 applications to your job ad. So, now you re ready you need a certain number of applications, and you have your alluring and accurate job ad in hand. Let s take a look at the tools in your recruitment belt. AGC of Iowa Career Center IPG Page 3

5 The right tool for the job Picking the right method to find your next heavy construction professionals doesn t need to be complicated. Just as in your business, you should match the correct tool to the job. Below is an overview of each method. Your personal network: As a construction professional, you ve come in contact with dozens, perhaps even hundreds, of potential candidates and referrals. Take a few minutes to jot down the people you know who can help. These can be vendors, past employers, friends and associates in local trade organizations, and even friendly competitors. Your employees: Every organization should have an employee referral program. Period. Your employees each have their own networks of friends and professional associates, and they can be powerful allies in the search for the right candidate. A key element of a successful referral program is training. Ensure that your employees understand the objective of a referral. Limit referrals to people the employees know as well as their closest friends. Make the rewards clear, and then be certain to deliver the rewards promptly when earned. Company media: Does your business have a fleet of trucks? Utilize some of them to get the word out about employment opportunities. Take a page from the trucking companies surely you ve seen their ads on the back panels touting how much drivers can earn per mile. You can create similar ads on removable magnetic panels that can be placed on the rear doors of each truck. These create a moving billboard for your opportunities. Print media: Almost every organization has placed an ad in the local newspaper. These can be particularly effective in reaching those candidates in a specific geographic area who don t typically look for jobs online. Demographic analyses indicate that older and less experienced candidates are more likely to turn first to newspapers. AGC of Iowa Career Center IPG Page 4

6 Online: Company Web site: Your organization does have a Web site, doesn t it? If not, you should set one up immediately. In almost every market there are businesses that specialize in creating and maintaining Web sites for any size of organization, usually for a modest fee. Your company Web site should always include a Work for Us section. Even if you don t have an active opening, tell visitors about the benefits of working for your company and whom they should contact. You ll be pleasantly surprised by the steady influx of queries you receive. (And, of course, promote your Web site on your ads, trucks, letterhead, and anywhere else that customers and candidates can find you). Online: Job Boards: A job board is simply a Web site promoting your job ads to a specific audience of job seekers. Most boards also collect resumes from job seekers, which (for a fee) you can search to locate candidates. There are over 40,000 job boards out there, with new ones popping up each day. Job boards come in two general flavors: niche (focusing on a certain industry or type of job seeker, such as plumbing or electrical, etc.); and general (focusing on all industries, such as Monster or CareerBuilder). Job boards have largely replaced newspapers as the first place most job seekers look when beginning their employment search; they offer the candidate ease of use and considerable depth. Apprenticeships/Trade Schools: There are thousands of trade schools throughout North America there is probably one in your town, as well. If you haven t already, get in touch with the director or a few of the key teachers. Make sure they know your business is willing to consider hiring their school s graduates. If possible, consider offering internships for trade school or high school students interested in the heavy construction industry. Unions can also provide a source of new talent, and their apprenticeship programs can provide a solid basis in the trades. Recruiters (Headhunters): Recruiters (or headhunters, as they re often known) conduct what is called a contingency search. In other words, they agree to search for a particular person to fill your open position, in exchange for a fee usually a percentage of the position s annual salary. Recruiters can be AGC of Iowa Career Center IPG Page 5

7 helpful in filling a highly skilled or unusual position. However, most firms do not specialize in the heavy construction industry. Another factor to consider is that a recruiter led search may last longer than some of the other options mentioned, depending on the search complexity or the number of other searches they re conducting; however, some recruiters will guarantee their candidate; if you hire the person and they don t work out, the recruiter will locate another candidate. Local visibility: Local visibility is simply an extension of your company into the local community. For example, your organization can sponsor a softball team, or take on a lead roll in the fund raising effort for a new library or community building. You or others in the company can become active in local organizations such as Rotary or Lions, offering to speak about the heavy construction industry and its challenges whenever possible. The goal is of course visibility. The more you re out there, the more likely it is a potential candidate will think of you the next time they re considering an employment change. A nice side benefit of this activity is the likely creation of more business for the firm. The right mix Just as you wouldn t attempt to build an overpass with a single person or excavate a site with a single bulldozer, recruiting calls for the use of more than one tool. Exactly what combination of tools you select depends on these factors: Speed: How quickly do you need your candidates? Cost: How much are you willing to spend to acquire your candidates? Location: Do you need local candidates only, or are you willing to search farther afield? Most recruitment experts would agree that you want to locate the largest number of qualified applicants in the least amount of time, for the least amount of money. But beyond that, each recruiting effort is different. For example, let s say: a) You need your candidates fast AGC of Iowa Career Center IPG Page 6

8 b) You re willing to spend up to $1,000 per hire c) You re willing to accept both local and non local candidates. Your mix would look like this: Your personal network + Your employees + Company media + Company Web site + Online job board Why this mix? Let s take a closer look: Your personal network: low/no cost (just your time in making a few calls); low speed (probably), but you might get lucky; will get you local candidates if it is successful Your employees: as mentioned above, a referral system is a must, even if it can t produce instant results; low cost, low speed, local candidates Company media: low cost, low speed, local candidates Company Web site: low cost (after initial investment), low medium speed, local AND non local candidates Online job board: medium cost; medium/high speed (should see applications almost immediately); will provide local and non local candidates See Appendix A for a ranking of each tool with regard to the factors listed above. Again, the right mix depends on your specific situation. But you can see from the example above that the likelihood of success depends on having multiple methods in play. Final thoughts Remember: your business would not rely on only one method to advertise to your customers. Don t allow your recruiting efforts to rest only on one technique. Don t rush into the recruitment process without asking yourself two key questions: What position am I filling, and what resources am I willing to expend to fill this position? Write a compelling job ad. Determine the number of applications you will need to reach your hiring goal. Finally, build your mix of recruitment tools based on your needs and resources. The end result will be a recruitment process that gives you the best heavy construction talent, each and every time. AGC of Iowa Career Center IPG Page 7

9 APPENDIX A Recruitment tools ranked on Speed, Cost, and Location Speed: How quickly do you need your candidates? Cost: How much are you willing to spend to acquire your candidates? Location: Do you need local candidates only, or are you willing to search farther afield? Personal Network: Employees (referrals): Company media: Company website: Print Media: AGC of Iowa Career Center IPG Page 8

10 Job boards: Apprenticeships/trade schools: Recruiters: (low dollars/high time) Local visibility: AGC of Iowa Career Center IPG Page 9

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