Why can’t construction attract talent?

By Andrew Curtin, founder of Chronicmedia.

It’s Wednesday, December 1st 2021.

I’m on a call with a senior recruitment consultant. She works with a large engineering firm. And she’s upset. She, with the help of other team members, recently created a video to advertise a bunch of roles. It went live, and it began to get some good traction. Twenty minutes later, the phone rang. It was the head office, they weren’t happy with the video. They deleted it and created a 10-page PDF document instead.

The result of the PDF document? Zilch!!

This was the fourth time I heard something like this in the last six months. But this one was the most severe. The most undermining, and detrimental to a department’s efforts.

It’s kind of crazy with all the new platforms, the industry is still creating content that is suitable for a 1980 newspaper. And worse again, decision makers expect a positive ROI.

There is a reason why Gen Y/Zr’s want to be YouTubers, TikTokers, or work at Gymshark. It’s because they speak the same language as them. They create engaging content every single day that benefits their life. And they don’t ask for anything in return. Candidates come to them. Brand over sales!

Week after week we see construction companies publish content that says “Hey, look at the project we won” or “Hey, look how great we are to work for”. It’s nonsense. It provides no value to anyone. It strokes boardroom egos. And makes the senior recruitment consultant’s job difficult, as we saw earlier.

Every construction company needs to act like a media company. They need to offer value, not sell. I’ll give you two ideas you can use:

1) Create a short documentary about the history of London’s oldest skyscraper. 2) Film a “bake-off” competition at your HQ.

Why? It adds value. It’s interesting. It shows you went out of your way to make something for your audience. Nobody cares if it’s unrelated to your business.

You might not win an abundance of new projects (yet may win a few!) because of this content style. But, you’ll grab the attention of talented people. Once you have their attention, recruitment becomes a bit easier:

“Oh, Hi Gillian, you’re calling from the company that produced the on-site vs office bake-off video. How can I help?”

See where I’m going here. Add value. Build rapport. Rinse & repeat.

Many will argue that a lack of training programmes and apprenticeship schemes are the problem. I agree, to some extent. But, you need to get people’s attention first. There is no point in having amazing training programmes if nobody knows about it? Or if an industry has a bad stigma attached to it?

A lot of industry players will go to schools & universities to spread their message. And this is great, very much encouraged. But, how scalable is it? It’s fine every so often, but it’s a lot of ground to cover every single day. And you need to add value every day, if you want to compete with the brands aforementioned.

Utilizing social media can attract more talent. Period. You have a channel for every audience. The hard part for firms is rubbing heads together to create valuable content for those different audiences. It’s tough, especially when you’re not used to it, but it has to be done.

The truth is labour managers & recruitment agencies can only do so much. Firms must build an employer brand. And what does building an employer brand entail? Telling stories non-related to projects, internal promotions or share prices.

Create a short film, organise a festival, build a TikTok about your Senior Project Manager’s LEGO collection. ANYTHING!

It’s now 2022. We speak a different language. So, speak it!!

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