How to passively recruit employees in construction

How to passively recruit employees in construction

It’s no secret the construction industry is facing a workforce shortage. In March, the Associated Builders and Contractors reported that the construction industry will need an additional 430,000 craft professionals to meet the project demand of 2021, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The industry will need to add another 1 million workers to meet project demand through the next two years. 

We know having the right people can have a massive impact on your ability to complete projects. According to the AGC, 44% of firms indicated labor shortages caused them to lengthen completion time for projects already underway.

This is a massive challenge for HR teams. You first need to keep a hold of your current workforce and ensure turnover is low. You also need to be proactively looking for qualified people to add to your ranks. Posting for open positions is a standard tactic, but passive recruitment has become increasingly vital to bring new people into the company.

What is passive recruitment?

Passively recruiting means seeking candidates that aren’t necessarily looking to make a career change. HR professionals, hiring managers, and recruiters will seek out qualified construction professionals they feel would be a good fit for their company and the role they’re looking to fill, and then convince them to consider applying for the position.

At Bridgit, we’ve been lucky enough to sit with HR representatives from some of the top general contractors in North America. We’ve put together some of the best practices from our conversations with the people that are actively navigating this challenging space.

3 Tips for passive recruitment in construction

1. Get started early

Your audience for passive recruitment is almost endless. According to LinkedIn, 70% of their users are passive candidates, meaning they’re currently employed. Don’t let that deter you. There are countless qualified candidates that are looking to make a career change, they just need to be made aware of their options. Passive recruitment is a lot like marketing. It takes time to get off the ground, and you need to be consistent with your efforts over a long period of time.

Play the long game. Don’t be discouraged if people say no at first. Their situation might not be ideal, and they could be open to future opportunities. To expand on the idea that passive recruitment is a lot like marketing, the first step is getting a candidate’s attention. Think of how many times you’ll see an ad on your phone or drive past a billboard before taking the time to actually look into a product or service. Rarely does it happen right away. In this case, working for your company is the “product”. Candidates may not look into your company right away, but they’re certainly becoming more aware of opportunities available to them.

2. Stay on top of your projects and think long term

We’ve heard from countless HR professionals that one of their biggest challenges comes from a lack of visibility on project demand, which often results in last-minute hiring and late crew build-up. The impact of late crew build-up on productivity can be in excess of 10%.

According to Autodesk and Dodge Data and Analytics, 66% of general contractors are carrying added costs from overtime/second shifts on at least three quarters of their projects due to schedule slippage, with 50% of them needing to extend the project end date. This all boils down to managing resources effectively, and understanding what resources are needed in the coming months and years.

Make sure you have systems in place that can help to easily identify where your people are, when and how long they’ll be there, and what roles you’ll need to potentially fill for upcoming projects or bids. Bridgit Bench, for example, is a workforce intelligence solution that contractors can use to better understand their hiring needs based on hard data. Our tool looks at the workforce demand for all upcoming projects and bids and compares that against the company’s current staffing. Contractors can even run scenarios to see the impact different bids will have on their staffing needs and collaborate with their HR team to make sure projects aren’t at risk of being understaffed.

Though workforce planning, in many cases, has been a one-person job, we’re seeing countless HR teams being added as users to better predict hiring trends to make informed recruitment decisions. SKYGRiD Construction, for example, is using Bridgit Bench to not only build stronger project teams, but also to stay ahead of their recruitment efforts.

Because we have greater clarity about what stage in the project we are on and when resources will be available for another project, we can be confident regarding recruitment decisions.

Grace Paladino, Director of HR at SKYGRiD Construction

Click here to read SKYGRiD’s full success story with Bridgit Bench.


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3. Have your colleagues be actively involved in the recruitment process

Your people are your most valuable resource. We often hear that in regards to productivity and profitability, but the same rings true for recruitment. Creating an incentive program for referrals can help improve passive recruitment efforts by expanding your company’s reach. It also shows your current team that you value their input. Referrals are a great way to recruit high-level candidates. Think of it this way, when was the last time you referred someone to a job that you were unsure of? In most (if not all) cases, your people will refer candidates that not only fit the bill, but will also likely be someone they’ve worked well with in the past.

Take a look at some of these referral statistics from TalentLyft:

  • 48% of businesses say that their top channel for quality hires are employee referrals.
  • Referred candidates are 55% faster to hire.
  • Referred hires produce 25% more profit than hires from other sources

To sum it up, the key to successful passive recruitment is understanding what your company’s needs are, and planting seeds early in the minds of your potential candidates. That means getting involved in the workforce planning process and identifying trends in the project pipeline. For more information about how Bridgit Bench can help, feel free to book a demo of our workforce intelligence solution, or visit our blog for more resources.


Akshay Yeleswarapu

Akshay Yeleswarapu is the Senior Product Marketer at Bridgit. Armed with experience coordinating wastewater construction projects and leading product development in the HVAC industry, Akshay is working to equip construction firms with the tools necessary to accelerate growth.

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