Jobsites need more workers. Some 650,000 more.
And with the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act coming online, recruiting has rarely been more valued for construction firms. In such a competitive landscape, Erica Gilliland, director of craft recruiting at McCarthy, a 150-year-old builder, has an increasingly tough job.
Construction Dive spoke with her to learn more about what makes a top-level recruiter.
The following has been edited for brevity and clarity.
CONSTRUCTION DIVE: How are you adapting your techniques to find and recruit new workers? Has it gotten harder?
ERICA GILLILAND: We have training and development programs that we are able to go and advertise to the market. We also heavily leverage a referral program to depend on those people who already have the skills. We trust that they know other great people out there, and that they can speak on our behalf about what kind of employer we are.
I wouldn't say that it has felt any harder now than in the past. In fact, I feel like we have done such a good job of building a great place for craft professionals to work that it has served us to be able to go out and find people. We try to equip our team with the tools that will help them talk to prospects quickly, screen people quickly and then efficiently get them over to hiring managers. We don't have a lot of time to waste, so we treat those people who we find that do have the skills like gold.
How important is it to set expectations for both the employer to retain workers and the employees to set the foundation to build a career?
That's of the utmost importance. We want to show individuals that not only are they going to be hired at McCarthy, but also that they're going to be taken care of for the long run. Whenever people are on our jobsites, they should feel a strong sense of communication about what is happening daily on that jobsite, but also what opportunities exist in the future for them. What is impactful for a craft professional is impactful for everyone else in their career. We want to know what's next, how we're going to learn, how we're going to become better at what we do and where our next project is coming from.
What do you wish both potential workers and company leaders knew about the hiring process?
It really is important, I think, to create that workplace where people would truly want to be and want to stay for the long term. Then that will do a lot of the recruiting on itself. I mentioned the referral package that we have. I think whenever people see the value and they enjoy working, they're just naturally going to tell their friends, their relatives, their former colleagues about this great place and that reputation carries itself.
How important is it to recruit women and minorities? What are some best tips and tricks to do so?
I would advocate trades as a career for anyone. It's important to get in front of younger women sometimes even at the middle school level. In fact, this week we have an event in our Houston market that's focused on middle school and high school girls to create awareness around what construction is all about and the opportunities that exist because they can be very lucrative. They can change someone's legacies.
The single mothers out there who might not have yet found their way in the world. There are certainly opportunities that exist in construction to change that for their families. It's critical to get construction as a career in front of every client and certainly not exclude anyone in that process.