Hiring any new employee for your small business is hard. Hiring good construction workers is an even tougher job. But you can work smarter by looking for your new employees in the right places.
When you need to hire construction workers, it’s not enough to simply post on a general job board. A 2022 report by the Associated General Contractors of America found that of construction firms planning to hire, 83% are having a hard time filling open positions.
You can up the odds and beat your competition to the best employees if you look in the right places for your next hires. While it’s a good idea to place an ad on a general job board when you need to hire laborers, also consider looking in these 10 places:
1. Specialized Jobs Boards
Specialized or niche job boards are boards specific to a certain industry. These boards can connect small business owners looking to hire construction workers with job seekers specifically hunting for a job in the industry.
Use a specialized job board like:
Niche job boards generally get fewer postings and less traffic than general job boards. But posts on niche job boards tend to bring in more targeted and high quality applications. This can save you time and may result in a better hire who sticks around for the long haul.
2. Former Employee Social Circles
Keep in touch with former employees and send them info about openings when you need to hire laborers.
First, your ex-employee could actually become your new hire. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) recommends you stay open to rehiring former employees who are already familiar with your organization. A survey by Spherion Staffing & Recruiting found that 29% of workers had gone back to a previous employer and 41% percent are open to being a “boomerang hire.”
Former employees also can be great recruiters of new employees. That ex-employee who did a good job and had a great attitude is likely to know someone else who might happily do quality work. SHRM suggests keeping in touch with employees after they leave so you can naturally give them a call or send them an email or direct message to let them know about your latest opening.
Also put in place an official offboarding procedure to make sure departures go smoothly. This will increase the chances that your employees leave with a good impression of you and the company, and will be ready to refer friends and relatives your way.
3. Your Own Company
Your current employees also can pave the way to your next great hire if you start a referral program that offers bonuses.
In fact, many construction companies keep their recruiting pipeline full to avoid a shortage of construction employees. One of the top ways to do this is to implement an internal employee referral program. More than 68% of construction companies use this strategy, according to FMI.
Putting an employee referral program in place with incentives for current employees will boost your business in several ways. The program will turn your employees into recruiters and help keep them happy because they can earn prizes or extra cash. New hires referred by a current employee may have a better understanding of the company and require less training, according to SHRM.
Start by drawing up a simple referral form that’s a snap for your employee to fill out and turn in. Choose a reward such as a paid day off, a gift card, or entry into a drawing for a larger prize like a new TV. Then put the word out to your employees.
SHRM recommends that you always take referrals, even when no position is open. That fits the advice from FMI to always keep your recruiting pipeline full in the construction industry.
4. Online Search Engines
Add a jobs page to your website to help job searchers find your open positions. Many employers miss this easy golden opportunity for finding workers.
If you don’t have a careers page on your construction company website, ask your website designer to create one. Write straightforward job listings with SEO keywords that a job searcher would actually type into a search engine. Include details about the position, as well as information about your company and about the application process.
And don’t forget to share your careers page and talk up your open positions on social media. That makes it easy to encourage employees, customers, and vendors to share.
5. Local Businesses
Not every ideal candidate will be Googling or scanning social media for their next job. That’s why it’s a good idea to get out into the community to recruit as part of your strategy.
Have your designer create an eye-catching color flyer that advertises your open position. Keep it simple with clean graphics, bright colors, and large type that can be seen from a distance. Add tear-off tabs at the bottom to make it easy for candidates to contact you.
Think about skills required for the job and also about where people who have these skills might hang out. Need someone who can sling heavy bags of concrete mix and knows their way around a building project? Put up flyers on bulletin boards at gyms, the Home Depot, your local industrial supply store, restaurants that serve hearty lunches, and even at businesses near construction sites.
6. Construction Temp Agencies
It can be stressful when someone quits and you need a new employee now. But don’t rush to hire the first person you can find. Instead, consider filling the gap with a temporary worker from a staffing service.
Seek out a construction-specific staffing service that understands your industry. For example, Trillium Staffing offers workers for short-term contracts. Available workers include general laborers, concrete workers, forklift operators, foremen, and construction supervisors. PeopleReady specializes in construction, but also offers staff in several other industries. They offer temporary general laborers, skilled tradespeople, or entire construction crews.
One of the big benefits of going this route is that it gives you a chance to test out the employee. You can get to know their skill level, work habits, and attitude without making a long-term commitment. If they’re a great fit, you can considering bringing them on as a permanent hire.
7. Job Fairs
Attend job fairs at local colleges and trade schools. You can attend general job fairs, but make sure to seek out construction industry-specific job fairs in your region. Students and other job seekers will attend these fairs because they have an interest in the industry. That means you’re more likely to meet candidates who might be a good match for your company.
To find these fairs, start by checking with colleges and universities in your area. For example, Clemson University in South Carolina recently held a construction career fair cosponsored by its Construction Science and Management Program.
Prepare ahead of time to make the most of a career fair. If you don’t plan to attend, pick a few friendly and knowledgeable employees who’d do a good job representing your small business. Make a list of questions attendees are likely to ask and prep your employees on the answers. And prepare the right company materials, including brochures, business cards, and descriptions of open positions.
Post the position on Craigslist. While simply posting on Craigslist is unlikely to produce a stream of great candidates, it’s a good idea to post your job as on this site as part of an overall recruitment strategy. It’s free, easy, and many construction workers look at the site as part of their job search.
9. Your Professional Network
Put the word out to everyone in your network that you’re looking to hire. Practice briefly and enthusiastically describing your open position, as well as what it’s like to work at your small business. Then drop the job opportunity into conversation with everyone you meet professionally.
Make a point to tell former colleagues, vendors, and even customers that you’re hiring. If you belong to a construction industry trade association, or you attend a construction industry trade show, talk up the opportunity with people you meet. Make sure to take plenty of business cards along. Word of mouth in the industry is a powerful way to find new construction workers.
10. Construction Recruiters
Consider using a professional construction recruiter for higher-level positions like superintendents and engineers. A construction recruiter is an experienced firm or person specializing solely in recruiting for the construction industry. As an example, Kaye/Bassman Construction Recruiting Practice states that it has conducted over 5,000 searches for mid- to senior-level construction positions.
A specialized recruiter knows the industry and understands the challenges construction companies face. Of course, you won’t use a specialized recruiter for every open position. But it may be worth the investment when you have a key position to fill.
There’s no doubt that it’s tough to find good employees in construction. But a small business owner who takes a creative, proactive approach will have the best chance of filling open positions with solid construction workers.
How have you found great construction workers? Comment and let us know about the places where you’ve found your best hires. And keep reading for more advice on running a successful small business in the construction industry.