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Hiring in a Construction Bonanza: Attract (and Keep) The Best Talent Possible

Tips for employers who are looking to secure top construction, engineering and surveying talent


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Almost anyone who has ever owned or run a business knows this fact: There is nothing easy about hiring great talent. Part of the struggle is the "set-up." It requires prospective employers to base their impressions of the prospective employee on how a person operates from a resume, and within a couple hours of interviews. Sometimes there's a referral involved. 

Colorado is particularly stressful for employers who are looking to secure top construction, engineering and surveying talent. Almost anyone who has been in Colorado for a week recognizes the massive building boom the state enjoys. "Crane check-ins" are part of the daily media coverage, and builders are even training workers from scratch in order to keep their projects moving.

The best-kept secret about hiring super talent, particularly when it is a "buyer's market" (where potential employees have options), is that there is no secret to the successful hire. In the current economy, employers in construction and engineering industries must look under every rock and around every corner to find the best people.

Hiring great talent is a process. Employers must work to understand what drives a person and what risks they are willing to take to drive themselves and the business forward.

At the top of that discovering process is looking for those who will complement the team. Typically, everyone has strengths and weaknesses, but equally important is discovering someone who will be challenged in areas they do not know. Those people seek to continually grow in their career, while helping teach others their experiences. It does not matter what shape or form they come in, everyone has a different experience that everyone can learn from, no matter how long they have worked in the industry.

Moreover, a good company reputation and a good market brand is a must. Overhauling the company's industry reputation can ramp-up superior hires remarkably. A new website, consistent social presence, hiring platforms that funnel candidates toward a company, all complemented by well-branded trucks, community involvement and high-quality work pay off in the end.  

If people have not heard of a company, then that company is not on their radar for potential jobs. Good companies that are dedicated to company reputation management show up. They attend leadership and industry functions regularly.

Many companies trip-up by hiring a body to fill a void or hiring someone that had a good personality during the interview. Workflow suffers and team-building can quickly come to a grinding halt. Determining a comprehensive hiring practice and sticking to a good process helps eliminate the too-quick, ill-fitting new hire. Like company reputation management, taking the time to find the right person yields the greatest results - everyone learns, everyone grows and team members support their teammates.

"Quick to fire" is an old hiring adage (after "slow to hire") that can backfire on everyone. People need time to figure out how they fit into the equation. For any new employee, the first three months is like breathing from a fire hose; the new employee doesn’t know anyone and wants to fit in. 

By month four, the person is comfortable with their immediate team, up to speed on the processes and beginning to show what they can do consistently. By month seven, they are an integral part of the team, firing on all cylinders and showing others what their experiences are. By the end of their first year, they should be crushing it consistently, elevating others and looking for a flow of challenges. 

At this stage, companies can then dive in and help employees establish goals, thereby eliminating any hurdles and fully integrating the stellar employee for leadership and growth opportunities. That is a win-win for everyone.

The thing is, it does not necessarily come easily. Few things of value do. But the time and commitment spent is well worth it, because it works.

Tony Smith is the president of R&R Engineers

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