Hiring Highly-Trained Construction Employees

By JERRY WILKINS on OCTOBER 14, 2015

The construction profession has always required a certain level of technological savvy, but technology is evolving at an ever-faster pace. To get personnel with the computer skills needed in the field today, you must snatch new graduates and highly trained construction professionals before they land on your competitor’s payroll. Because of increasing demand for employees with the right combination of skills and a shortage in the construction industry, qualified candidates are receiving job offers more quickly than ever.

As the construction industry recovers from the economic downturn, the amount of work available is creating a need for sufficient numbers of tech-savvy trained construction candidates. Additionally, fewer of today’s people are joining the construction workforce, in part because of lingering concerns about the layoffs that occurred during the recession. At the same time, greater numbers of well-seasoned trained construction professionals are retiring or have left the industry. For these reasons and more, the construction candidate pool is noticeably smaller.

Technology Experience Makes a Difference

Construction project managers at work.

While project management experience remains a valuable commodity, technical knowledge and skills are becoming important too. Recent graduates with a degree in construction have a thorough working knowledge of computer estimating, scheduling and project management software. As a result, they may stand a chance at landing a construction position right out of school. Although companies are now seeking more technical skills, project experience remains the number one most important asset for a construction management candidate seeking employment.

Trained construction candidates with technology skills, and little or no building experience, are advancing in the industry, partly because companies are hiring tech-savvy employees to bridge the technology gap with experienced builders who are less familiar with today’s hardware and software. Employers feel confident that their veteran builders can teach the less experienced employees the building skills they need on the job, and that the newly hired employees can provide technology training to those who are less experienced.

The Trend Will Continue

Trained construction employee using CAD program.

Hiring candidates with technology skills has become a trend that will continue well into the foreseeable future. The construction industry paper trail involves more and more technology every year. Employees must document every construction project’s RFIs, submittals, change orders, and other vital tasks. Even most field employees must be able to demonstrate computer proficiency. Trained construction employees have a base of technical knowledge and skills, from using simple communications tools such as texting and email to operating complex document-sharing programs and design software such as 3D CAD modeling and Business Information Management (BIM). Employees who have this knowledge can advance rapidly in today’s construction industry.

The bottom line is that there are a large number of excellent men and women in the construction industry who know how to build and solve problems. But as companies improve their technology skill sets, they can deliver complex building projects on shorter timelines and with fewer backlogs. To accomplish this, however, they have to integrate experienced trained construction managers with young construction professionals recently out of school. Ultimately, this strategy will pay large dividends in the cost, time and quality of construction projects.

Get in the Construction Hiring Game

Companies that have been the most proactive have already streamlined their hiring processes. They are the ones recruiting these tech-savvy candidates. Here are five suggestions for how your company can reduce the time it takes to onboard new grads and trained construction employees with the technical expertise you seek:

  1. Conduct candidate interviews as a group. Instead of scheduling a series of one-on-one interviews on different dates, gather your managers, HR representatives, and other hiring authorities together to interview the candidates as a group or individually on the same date. This tactic will reduce the total number of interviews and allow for a set time when all decision makers can discuss candidates together instead of emailing back and forth.

  2. Research compensation before the interview process begins. Compensation rates in the construction industry are changing much more frequently today because of shifts in supply and demand. If you go into the interview process already knowing the fair market rate, as well as the range of what you can reasonably offer and comfortably afford, you can make competitive offers much faster. Also, know the candidates’ salary expectations going into this process so you can decide if their expectations are realistic for your company.

  3. Be prepared to hire the moment you start interviewing. In the past, construction companies could conduct interviews months before construction starts in order to line up crews for future projects. That is no longer the case. Make sure the project is a go and you are ready to hire immediately. If you’re not ready to hire, the interviews may be a waste of your time. If you try to hire those interviewees three months later, you could find they are already working for someone else.

  4. Make a faster offer on a contingency basis. If you interview an impressive candidate with a resume that contains the exact technical skills and trained construction background you’re looking for, consider offering the position contingent on the results of the required background and reference checks. You can still take the time to thoroughly vet candidates after they have accepted your offer.

  5. Notify candidates the moment you decide to hire them. If you interview someone you want to hire, communicate this to the candidate immediately. Use texts or phone calls to ensure a timely delivery of your offer. Remember, this is a tech-savvy world the new trained construction professionals live in. They operate on a much more urgent timetable than you may be accustomed to. The clock is ticking from the moment you conduct the first interview.

Hire the Technically Trained Construction Expert You Need

Due to the increased competition for trained construction employees with a high level of technical skills, you may need to do some additional work to hire the right candidate. For construction employers, however, this is a good problem for the industry to have. This means there is plenty of work, and the candidates who are out there are energized by this resurgence. There are a lot of good people on the market. You just might need to work a little faster to get them on your team.

The Author

Straight from the desk of

Jerry Wilkins

Jerry Wilkins

Executive Vice President

Jerry began his career at Kimmel & Associates in 2001. He earned a BS degree in Education from Western Carolina University. Upon graduation, he spent 20 years as an educator and head football coach in the public school system. The former coach’s discipline, planning, and ability to develop the talents of many around him have served Jerry well at Kimmel & Associates.