I felt compelled to write this blog, as ineffective recruitment is preventing many construction and trade businesses growing, more than ever before.

It’s a well known fact that in order for any business to succeed, one of the hardest aspects can be attracting and hiring good people. Challenging for any business, but arguably harder in the construction and trade industries and even more challenging right now in April 2022.

Notice that I am not just banding it all together and calling it recruitment, this is because I strongly believe that there are several elements to getting this right –  and it starts with attracting the right people to want to work for you, in the same way that we put a lot of effort into trying to sell ourselves to potential customers, we need to take the same approach when trying to attract good employees or contractors.

So, I am going to share with you what I have seen that actually works, things that you can go away and do right now, and others that you can start today that will pay off in the future.

Your team are the face of your brand, they form the first impression, deliver a certain quality of work and either leave your customer delighted, lukewarm or potentially down right unhappy, so it is so important that you take your time to think about how you plan to recruit, take your time to properly assess them and take your time to induct them properly into your business.

Before we get into process, lets start with attraction. Think of future employees or subbies as being your internal customer in the sense that your paying customers are external. I’m guessing with your customers you put a lot of thought into how you come across, what you promise to deliver, your brand, first impressions, what makes you different? I could go on and on. The problem is that when we are looking for staff, often we are desperate and we just want the problem fixed quickly, so we rush it and end up panic hiring. The result is that we then end up with someone less than ideal, go through months of stress trying to make it work, only to have to let them go and start the whole process all over again.

So, how do we set ourselves apart in a way that gets the attention of those who are great? One of the best ways that I have seen recently is to have a great social media presence. I interviewed Jordan Farley of Artisan Electrics recently for the podcast show, he has 125,000 followers on YouTube and people queuing up to work for him! Now obviously he didn’t get all of those followers overnight, it took him the best part of 3 years, but he no longer has to worry about where his next talent is coming from.

I would recommend starting by thinking about what is and what could be different about your company as an employer of choice. Ask those people that have been with you a while what they enjoy about working for you, it could be simple things like you always pay them on time, they have fun when they come to work, you treat them with respect or they feel part of something. It is often different to what you think, so don’t think you know the reasons, make sure that you ask them and crucially listen! But also ask them what more could you do, pay probably will get mentioned, but simply ask what else could we be doing? Often the best ideas come from your team, they will tell you, providing you have a relationship based on trust!

Aim to have a list of 5 key things that you think make you different and a good employer, and start with this. So now we come on to the process, maybe you haven’t even thought about this. Again, what I am about to share is what I have seen work best for my clients, its kind of taking a corporate approach but adapting it to suit the industry.

The key thing here is to cast the net wide by having a compelling job advert, which includes those 5 key factors that make you attractive as an employer and place it on job boards, as well as asking the people that you know. I’d also put it on social media, the more active you are on this, the more effective it will be. This enables you to hopefully attract many applicants of which you then need a process to separate out the good from the bad.

Always include the salary or day rate in the job title, as well as the location, you will receive far more applications by doing this. State clearly the duties and skills/experience/qualifications you are looking for, but steer away from specifying the number of years experience, which could leave you at risk of age discrimination.

Make sure you also list what you are offering in return e.g., ongoing training and development, use of company vehicle and phone, holiday entitlement, pension etc

I would then start by telephone interviewing your top 10. This will save you a lot of time, as you can tell quite a lot about someone’s attitude by asking them a few questions over the phone, and it should only take 10-15 minutes per candidate. Look out for gaps in between positions they have had and ask what they were doing during this time. Also look out for people who only seem to stay a few months and then change job, we call them job hoppers and it can be a warning sign that they are unlikely to stay long with you either.

Anyone who you feel comes across quite well on the phone, invite them in for a face to face interview. If you have several people who are contenders, I would narrow this down to your top 3.

Many people ask me how long will it take? To which the quick answer to this is, as long as it takes! Seriously it can vary tremendously according to the type of role you are recruiting for. Typically, good trades take longer to find for example than office and admin positions, but also you need to move even quicker with them. If a trade applies for a job today and they are good, they are going to get snapped up within a few days, so you need to be first off the starting blocks when their application comes in!

At the face to faceinterview, you want to be asking them what we call behavioural questions. These are questions that ask the candidate for examples of situations they have been in, what they did and the outcome. E.g. Can you tell me about a time when you solved a problem on a job or dealt with an unhappy customer? The reason for this is that past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour, as opposed to asking them what they think they would do. You can do this is a casual way, for example meet them in a café for a coffee and bring these questions into conversation. It doesn’t have to feel like some huge formal process.

If it is a trade position, I would also include some kind of practical assessment so you can see the quality of their work. This is so crucial as in my experience many people can lets say over estimate their capabilities!

The economic climate also has a big influence on numbers and quality of applicants, so sometimes you may be inundated, and others only have a few apply. Regardless, my best piece of advice is to only hire someone you don’t have any doubts about, keep going until you find the person who really impresses you! I always say if in doubt throw it out! There have been times when I have ignored this and every time it has bitten me on the bottom!

So, lets recap on what I have covered, first and foremost before you jump in, take a step back and find out by asking your team, what is different about working for you that is good and also what could be different. Then create a compelling job advert, one that stands out and post it on job boards, social media and share amongst your network. The next step is to make sure you have a good selection process; a telephone interview, face to face interview and practical assessment. Do this as fast as possible and as soon as they have applied. The early bird catches the worm!

I really hope that this has given you something to think about and it helps you attract some good people. The key is to keep at it, don’t be disheartened if your first ad doesn’t produce the results. Those who keep focused and committed reap the rewards.