Your blueprint for hiring hourly construction workers fast

Darrell Jones |
Darrell is Snagajob’s Manager of Content & Copywriting, where he enjoys writing and editing advice that helps workers and businesses align and succeed. His first hourly job was totally chill, bagging ice at an ice cube f-f-f-factory.

It’s no secret that the construction industry is having a rough time finding qualified workers.

New research by AGC shows that during the past year alone, the unemployment rate among qualified job seekers with construction experience fell from 6.1% to 3.5%.

That means there are now fewer workers to choose from. A lot fewer. All while the demand for construction projects continues to grow. In fact, the Home Builder Institute estimates that the construction industry needs to add 740,000 new workers per year for the next few years to keep up with demand.

So where are you going to find these workers?

With demand at an all-time high, and supply at an all-time low, your first step is to step back and rethink your entire approach to hiring. What worked yesterday isn’t going to work today. You’ll need to take a proactive approach to hiring that begins with broadening your pool of candidates.

Tap into hidden pools of hourly talent

Rather than waiting for candidates with direct construction experience to knock on the door, go out and find job seekers you might be overlooking.

A case in point is second chance workers with minor criminal backgrounds. They’re among the most trusted, reliable, and highest-performing workers in the workforce. And they’re available for hourly work in large numbers, as many businesses have yet to appreciate their value.

Another untapped market is women. They’re highly under-represented in the construction industry, making up less than 4% of workers in the construction trade (including carpentry, plumbing, and electrical work). But their participation is growing, particularly among young mothers returning to the job market now that childcare is becoming less problematic. Just be sure to build a work culture, hiring strategy, and job descriptions that are inclusive of women (and all people, actually).

Also consider retired workers who are re-entering the job market as their nest egg is now less secure in these uncertain economic times, as well as veterans and Generation Z workers (those under 25 years old). While they may not have construction experience, most are fast learners who are ready, willing, and able to start immediately.

You can find these hidden hourly workers, as well as job seekers with construction experience, at job boards such as Snagajob and through partners you’ve traditionally worked with (such as trade schools and associations).

Bring awareness to your open jobs

Job #1 is getting your job noticed. This requires an “always-on” hiring strategy where you’re constantly in recruit mode. 

You’ll also need a job post that aligns with the changing needs of today’s workers. This 2022 Job Post Checklist will help you write an eye-catching description that checks all the right boxes, from what to include (and not include) and what specific words to stress. It also gives you tips on how to amplify your job post via social media to further broaden your job’s exposure.

Also, be sure to build a referral program among existing and past workers, as well as friends and family. As you know, it’s getting harder and harder to find large pools of qualified candidates, as people are avoiding the construction sector and leaving the industry for other job opportunities. Why? 

Construction has earned a reputation for demanding long hours and offering little formal training. Also, despite a high mean hourly rate ($21.22), many construction workers are asked to work by the job, which makes them feel under-compensated for the many hours they put in to do the job right. Plus, many older construction workers such as baby boomers, have left the industry. All of which adds up to focusing on a hiring strategy that’s persistent and well organized. 

Stretch your recruiting budget

Traditionally, construction is a high turnover industry. According to a job opening and labor turnover study conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate of quits in the construction industry reached a 20-year high of 248,000 in March of 2022. Bottom line, construction has been hit hard by the pandemic-influenced Great Reshuffle, plus the exodus of so many many baby boomers leaving the workplace.

That means retention is key to making your budget go as far as possible. Especially as you’re already facing skyrocketing inflation and the rising cost of goods.

A recent Gallop study showed that the cost of replacing an individual employee can be as high as twice the worker’s annual salary. To combat this, work hard to prevent burnout from overworking employees or placing unrealistic demands on them or their schedules. Another key making sure you’re paying liveable wages and providing an ideal workplace. Also, be sure to create a safe and supportive environment. Plus ask for feedback and check in regularly to ensure your staff is satisfied and successful.

With these insights in mind, you’ll take huge steps in improving your recruiting and retention efforts. Just because the job market is evolving doesn’t mean you can’t change too, and be among the first to align with what workers are looking for today.