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How to stand out in the QLD construction industry and secure your dream role
12 May 2016
As a construction recruiter, the aspect of my job I enjoy the most is the daily challenge of finding the best technical candidates to complement a project. When companies find the right candidate, the dynamic of an entire project changes for the better.
Yet many companies in Queensland are finding it tough to source quality construction candidates that complement their project teams due a scarcity of talent and time poor hiring managers who lack the time to review each resume in detail. One area where this lack of talent is being felt most acutely is the residential construction market, which is experiencing a high volume of activity but is struggling to find candidates with the right experience.
So how can top quality construction candidates make their skills stand out so they get noticed by hiring managers?
You first need to find the right project for your personality and skill set. Thinking about how these all align will help you highlight the most relevant aspects in your application, and improve your chances of getting noticed as an ideal candidate.
When updating your CV, try to set out your career history in a clear and concise manner. The first page of your CV is critical, as it is often all a hiring manager will have time to read and if you don't grab their attention on page one, you're unlikely to get much further. Include a snapshot of your project history including project value, location and project type and explain how this experience is relevant to the position you're applying for.
Here are some other factors to consider when trying to position yourself as an outstanding candidate:
There’s no point being in a job in the construction industry that doesn’t give you a chance to utilise and grow your skills: it would be a waste for both you and your employer. Job seekers should not seek to make too big a jump up in job title from one project to another, but the responsibility also lies with the hiring manager to adequately assess skill levels. Unfortunately, in a tight candidate market cycle, this assessment may not be as rigorous due to the pressure to make a quick hiring decision. With so few applicable candidates, mistakes can happen that put candidates in the deep end of their capabilities. We've seen Contract Administrators becoming a Project Manager too soon, or a Foreman becoming a Site Manager too soon, which can damage their careers and reputation if they're not equipped for the role.
All job seekers should have a clear understanding of their current skill set, the skills you want to acquire in order to reach the next level and should seek out employment opportunities that will offer the right development opportunities. Not only should your employer make use of your key strengths and abilities, but they should provide you with opportunities to gain new skills and knowledge before making the next step.
In the South East Queensland construction market, there are plenty of opportunities to take a step up in job title. But taking on a role before you are ready can set you up for failure. In construction, reputation is everything and your performance on your last project will have a big impact on your next project, so it is wise to ensure you fully understand the requirements and are equipped to take on a challenge before you accept.
Not only should your employer make use of your key strengths and abilities, but they should provide you with opportunities to gain new skills and knowledge before making the next step
A willingness to take on new challenges is an important quality for job seekers because it speaks to your desire to learn and develop. Being able to highlight the kinds of challenges you've taken on in the past and examples of times when you've stepped outside your comfort zone can indicate to a potential employer that you are motivated and eager to contribute. You should also research the project - how big it is, how long it will take to complete, the reputation of the builder on similar projects - and outline what experience and skills you hope to gain from this specific project and the kinds of challenges you are seeking. The challenges do not have to be huge, but it’s always good to show potential employers that you have a plan for your career, are aware of your skill gaps and understand how to best utilise the skill set you currently have.
While it would be nice to be rolling in money, the reality is that salary should provide fair compensation based on your skills and experience. While the Brisbane construction industry is really busy at the moment and there is a high demand for talent, I have not seen a massive move in salary as margins are still pretty tight.
When deciding what salary range you will seek, you should do some research to understand what the market rate for your role and experience is, using a Salary Tool like this. When your skills are in high demand, it can be tempting to try and secure a larger salary but it is important not to over-leverage your value. Pricing yourself too high will not reflect well on your self-awareness, and if market conditions change and you find yourself less in demand when seeking your next role, you may be forced to take a large pay cut in order to be competitive.
Fitting into a company is just as important as the work itself. The construction industry is tough and the hours you work are long, so you want to enjoy working with your colleagues. Work satisfaction in this area significantly contributes to long-term career success and job seekers should work to highlight how they would fit into the culture of an organisation.
Do some research on the company values - often posted on an organisation's website on their About Us page - to make sure they align with your own and prepare some examples you can discuss that demonstrate your embodiment of these values. You should also research the company's management and the financial position to give you an idea of what’s to come in the future so you can think about how that aligns with your career plan.
A key indicator of job satisfaction is the opportunity for growth. Ensure the job you're applying for has clear prospects for career development that align with your objectives, as this will help with future job prospects. By making the areas you'd like to grow clear from the outset, you can ask the employer specific questions about their ability to help you achieve this growth, and related questions such as whether they provide a professional training and development program. This also reassures the employer that you're a good long-term prospect and are likely to have a good tenure with the organisation.
Being able to demonstrate this desire for, and achievement of, growth in your career will be greatly valued by future employers, and a number of the roles I'm currently recruiting for in Brisbane are for clients looking for employees with great tenure with previous companies and projects. This shows that you have been valued by your previous employers and delivered the goods of previous construction projects.
To help your skills stand out in QLD's crowded construction market, job seekers are advised to:
- Have a clear understanding of their skill set and abilities - don't aim too high, too fast
- Be willing to take on new challenges and demonstrate your experience stepping out of your comfort zone
- Research what their skills and job level are worth in market
- Research the values of companies you're applying to, to make sure it is a good fit
- Demonstrate a desire for career growth