There are many diverse options for careers in construction, each of which requires its own unique skill set and offers its own challenges and benefits. From field labor to preconstruction, project management, drafting and design, safety management, finance, and more, construction is one of the most dynamic and fast-growing industries in the country.
Despite the vast differences between types of careers in construction, there are a few traits that hiring managers look for when filling any role. Here are five qualities that can help construction workers build successful careers no matter what path they choose.
Hiring an employee is an investment, and turnover is a costly process, financially and otherwise. For those reasons, companies are drawn to candidates who have demonstrated stability throughout their careers. This doesn’t mean that any job change is an automatic deal-breaker to a hiring manager, but candidates with frequent job changes on their resumes should be prepared to discuss the reasons for those changes. Even candidates who are highly experienced in and knowledgeable about the construction industry are at risk of being passed over for opportunities if a company believes that employee is likely to make another career move within a year or two.
It may seem obvious, but hiring managers want to know that a candidate can perform the job at hand. Be prepared to discuss hands-on experience with relevant projects and trades. Candidates who attempt to reframe their experience to seem more relevant or extensive than it is risk coming across as dishonest. Furthermore, even if they do land the job, that employee may be unprepared to manage the role’s responsibilities and damage their professional reputation. Some hiring managers are open to considering candidates with indirect yet applicable experience, but the important thing is for candidates to be honest about their qualifications throughout the interview process.
The construction industry is a small world, and word travels fast in the market. Many candidates make the mistake of believing that the references they list on their resume will be the hiring manager’s only source of information about their reputation. In reality, recruiters and hiring managers alike often have relationships throughout the industry that can provide a full picture of a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. Building a strong reputation means showing up every day, to every job, with professionalism, integrity, a great work ethic, and respect for everyone in the office, in the boardroom, or in the field. Every interaction matters, and consistency over time is the best way to ensure that no matter who a hiring manager asks, the candidate receives a glowing reference.
In an industry so rapidly changing and reliant on teamwork, flexibility is one of the most important qualities for a successful career in construction. Hiring managers are often assessing whether an employee will be able to step in and do what is necessary to get the job done, no matter what. For example, will a Superintendent pitch in with the laborers if things are behind schedule? Is a candidate willing to learn new skills and processes to improve safety and efficiency on site? Are they team players who demonstrate advancement potential? When a candidate can demonstrate this type of flexibility and desire to serve their team however they can, they can set themselves apart from the competition.
Communication is a key aspect of any career, and careers in construction are no exception. In recent years, there has been an increased awareness of the need for emotional intelligence (or EQ), or the ability to communicate well and manage emotions in a positive way to reduce stress and overcome challenges in the workplace. It’s also important to remember that how a candidate speaks is as important as what they say, and knowing how to cater communications to different audiences is a highly in-demand skill set. Of course, not all communication is verbal, and candidates communicate a lot by how they dress and act in interviews and on the job. Candidates who can communicate effectively with everyone from C-level executives to subcontractors to field laborers to owners to architects and engineers are in a strong position to benefit their companies by building and maintaining strong relationships at every level.
Ultimately, when it comes to making hiring decisions, most managers are asking themselves, “Can I afford not to hire this person?” Candidates who demonstrate career stability, great experience, a strong reputation, a high degree of flexibility, and excellent communication skills can help ensure that a hiring manager sees the value they can bring to a company and concludes that hiring them is the right move for the company.