Construction staffing presents a number of challenges in modern times. For one, as numerous studies revealed even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry is facing a shortage of labor. Forced retirements and barriers to immigration brought on by the pandemic have only complicated this shortage further, leaving management professionals struggling to fill skill gaps.
In this article, we’ll provide a list of construction staffing resources and tips that can help contractors overcome these challenges.
11 Best construction staffing resources and tips
#1. Project and resource management software
While most construction companies can readily tell when they need to hire additional workers, figuring out which roles require the most attention isn’t always easy. Project and resource management software provide the data professionals can use to identify skill gaps.
Check out this article for some more tips on using software to pinpoint skill gaps that need to be filled in both the short and long-term. Also, read this case study to find out how SkyGrid uses Bridgit Bench to inform its recruitment decisions.
#2. Be clear regarding your COVID protocols
Safety has always been important on job sites. Today, risks go beyond acute injuries and include concerns regarding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As such, when hiring, you need to highlight COVID safety protocols to leave candidates confident that you’re taking the situation seriously.
Check out this article for some specific tips on dealing with the COVID-fueled construction labor shortage. Highlights include tapping into new marketplaces and investing in proper resource management strategies.
#3. Social media
Gone are the days when social media was used solely for frivolous communication. Today, platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn play important roles in professional networking. Savvy construction companies leverage social media for hiring by:
creating dedicated profiles for recruiting (which gives candidates a much more professional impression of your company than recruiters reaching out via their own personal profiles)
posting industry-relevant content regularly to attract candidates
using personalized videos and messages to draw attention to their unique company culture
posting ads on social media platforms that allow it (including Facebook)
#4. Construction-specific employment agencies
While general labor agencies – pretty much by definition – lack specialized talent, construction-specific staffing centers can be incredibly helpful.
Popular construction staffing agencies in Canada include:
In the United States, meanwhile, popular construction staffing agencies include:
There are many benefits to having an agency handle your construction staffing needs. For one, the hiring process is generally much faster than if you were to recruit workers yourself. This makes construction staffing agencies ideal for companies looking to hire urgently for a project.
If you choose the construction staffing agency wisely, you’ll also benefit from their recruitment expertise, which is often lacking among construction management professionals.
#5. Your real-world network
Construction is a collaborative process. You’ve almost certainly worked with numerous other contractors on projects. If you have roles that need to be filled, ask around and find out if your collaborators are aware of any promising candidates that could be of value.
Professional social media platforms like LinkedIn can be tremendously helpful in this regard.
#6. Local classifieds
Craigslist and Kijiji are great for much more than just selling your used furniture. Workers have been using these platforms for years to identify and apply for opportunities. As such, they’re definitely worth a shot if you’ve been having difficulty finding qualified candidates elsewhere.
Here are some tips for using local classifieds to find talent:
be specific regarding the minimum qualifications you’d like candidates to have
weed out candidates who lack attention to detail by asking them to include something specific in their response (i.e. mentioning your company name in all caps); then, as you receive email responses, you can simply filter them to show only those who paid attention to your request
don’t worry about responding to every single applicant personally; websites like Craigslist have a fairly high noise-to-signal ratio
use an applicant tracking system (ATS); these programs are essential for scanning large numbers of resumes and job applications without spending tons of man-hours
#7. Traditional job listing sites
While construction-specific staffing agencies can help you find experienced workers, don’t discount the importance of traditional job listing sites as well.
Platforms such as Indeed and ZipRecruiter remain some of the most popular online job marketplaces in North America, with millions of monthly visitors. Much of the advice related to local classifieds applies here; use an ATS and be very specific regarding your expectations of candidates.
It’s not uncommon for construction recruiters to have difficulty finding employees that tick every single box. Apprenticeships offer companies a valuable opportunity to shape promising candidates into ideal workers.
This is an important part of human capital planning. It constitutes a specific human capital investment, which is generally believed to be the most beneficial type of personnel spending as it delivers results for your company specifically.
Hiring for a construction apprenticeship is typically no more complicated than hiring a new employee via a job posting site such as Indeed or ZipRecruiter. You can also reach out directly to internship coordinators at nearby schools.
Technical schools are always looking for placements so you can often count on a steady stream of workers if you’re able to build a partnership.
#9. Employee referral programs
It’s very likely that your existing laborers have contacts within their networks that might qualify for existing roles. Given how expensive it can be to find these qualified candidates, many companies pay existing employees referral fees for successful hires.
Here are some tips for ensuring a quality construction employee referral system:
set realistic goals for the program, such as how many recruits you expect to obtain from it
create a standardized process for referral submissions (i.e. a form employees can submit)
ensure your standardized process minimizes the likelihood of employees attempting to game the system by referring unqualified candidates and then pulling strings internally to get them approved (i.e. implement stricter evaluations of candidates referred by employees that would ultimately be involved in the hiring process)
keep your employees informed regarding how their candidates are progressing through the recruitment process
provide your employees with feedback on their submissions so they know exactly what you’re looking for in candidates
#10. Attract younger candidates by highlighting your company’s use of technology
As we discussed in this article, many construction companies have been slow to adopt new technologies, which often frustrates younger candidates who grew up in a world dominated by software.
Construction companies looking to hire top talent can distinguish themselves by highlighting key examples of technology and modern management practices they use.
By doing this, you’ll signal that your company is more organized and forward-thinking than its competitors. You’ll also show candidates that, at your company, they’ll be learning modern construction practices that will serve them for the rest of their careers.
#11. Consider using subcontractors more often
If you find yourself continually lacking qualified candidates for a particular role, consider relying more heavily on subcontractors. While this can often cost more per hour, you’ll usually spend less on payroll expenses. After all, as we mentioned in this article, a lot more goes into construction labor costs than mere salaries.
Subcontractors will handle the process of recruiting and training professionals while you can focus on the areas in which you have an easier time hiring.
Construction staffing is no easy feat in the age of COVID-19. We hope this article has given you some valuable ideas regarding how you can go about finding qualified candidates.
For more construction resource and workforce management tips, visit our blog.
Lauren Lake is the COO and co-founder at Bridgit. She holds a degree in Civil Structural Engineering and is well-versed in construction workforce management and resource planning processes. Lauren has been named to the Forbes Manufacturing & Industry 30 Under 30 and Best Of Canada Forbes Under 30 Innovators lists. Lauren has presented at industry events and conferences, including BuiltWorlds, Canadian Construction Association, Procore Groundbreak, and more. Follow Lauren on LinkedIn and Instagram.