How to find top talent in the construction and property sector

top talent
Stephen Veness

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written on April 13, 2017

Markets change, economic cycles ebb and flow – and projects evolve. In the ever-changing world of work, one constant seems to remain and intensify every year: the need to attract and retain top talent.

The engineering, construction and property markets are perhaps more acutely exposed to market conditions than many other sectors. Plus, many businesses in these markets are operating in some of the most competitive spaces in the country. The transport sector in NSW, booming residential construction in many of our capital cities and the growing healthcare sector all place strain on sought after skill sets and top talent.

These fast-paced environments have meant that the uptake of innovative methods of attracting talent have not been consistently adopted across the sectors. This is proving to be a mistake for many businesses.

Winning or losing work regularly depends on your people having the appropriate skills and being driven by the desire to work on the most exciting projects. Talent will move on if the work on offer does not match their professional desire and ambitions.

Therefore, it is vital that organisations operating in these competitive markets use innovative methods for talent acquisition to ensure you have the most suited people on your team. Traditional approaches of reviewing a CV, vetting past experience and undertaking a reference check are somewhat limited in their success rates.

The most successful recruitment processes delve deeper into the compatibility of both parties, engage with key career drivers and motivations and mitigate short-term failures effectively.

Predictive Analytics

“Data” is possibly the most used buzzword in any industry at present. However, if applied in the appropriate context, it can be a highly effective assessment tool to recognise top talent. Used at the correct point in time and with the right level of professional insight and interpretation, psychometric assessment tools are highly valuable.

On the other hand, in the modern world of talent acquisition, the traditional approach to this area can be time consuming and open to high levels of interpretation, which leads to inconsistent uptake, sub-optimal effectiveness and an inability to apply on a scalable level.

Fortunately, modern psychometrics have evolved and are mapped more closely to the key competencies associated with success in a given role, at a given level. The profile obtained from an assessment is less open to professional psychologist interpretation and far more closely linked to predicting suitability in the given role. In addition, the more specific approach enhances the candidate’s experience as they are only assessed against the competencies that are important – removing time spent in areas with little or no associated link to success in the job they are applying for.

Video Interviewing – a valuable tool for the time-poor

Those who recruit in the technology sector may roll their eyes at this concept, as it is not by any means new. However, in the construction and property markets it is not a common tool.

Construction professionals work some of the longest hours of any sector and hiring managers in this sector regularly report being time-poor, which impacts the amount of time that can be dedicated to recruitment. The result is that often hiring decisions are made hastily, increasing the chances of a wrong fit, or the process being delayed so long that top talent is lost to a competitor.

Video interviewing is streamlined and significantly reduces the time involved in shortlisting. When candidates are posed a select number of succinct and relevant questions it offers enormous upside to both parties and can increase success rates greatly. The pre-recorded nature of this approach provides  the hiring manager an opportunity to assess a candidate in their own time while also obtaining a deeper insight into the candidate’s communication skills, presentation and ability to deliver against key role requirements.

Similarly, candidates who work long hours, perhaps in remote locations, can put their best foot forward for the role they desire without the need to sneak away from site in the middle of the day for phone calls or early stage interviews.

Promotion of Flexible Work Arrangements

Work-life-balance and flexibility have risen to the top of people’s lists when seeking a new job. Flexibility in the workplace may not seem particularly innovative, however in the construction and property sectors it is not necessarily promoted as a workplace benefit and is rarely brought up during the recruitment process.

Of course, there are many roles in which flexibility or remote working may not be possible. After all it’s difficult to build a physical structure without being present. But many roles within the sector can be done through a variety of flexible arrangements and the smart employers in the market should use this as an attraction strategy.

Finding top talent

To engage with markets in which attraction of top talent and differentiation can be challenging, employers need to use an integrated communication approach, including the use of tools like social media to communicate this highly-valued employee benefit, and consequently positively building their brand.

Employers in these market areas who promote their support and encouragement of flexibility will attract a more diverse, committed and ultimately engaged selection of people. Innovation does not need to involve fancy technology or quirky concepts. The promotion of contemporary workplace policies that put the employee needs at the fore can indeed be among the most innovative things an organisation can do.

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