The construction industry in Australia is a major contributor to our economy, generating over $360 billion in revenue, or 9% of our GDP. With this in mind, it’s no surprise more and more professionals are ditching the white-collar sector in favour of a well-paid construction career.
Whether you’re just starting out in the industry or looking to move up into a site manager or senior construction manager position, how can you set yourself up for the best chance of career success?
Here are five tips to help guide you in your construction career move.
Make sure you’re moving for the right reasons
There multiple factors that drive people to leave their jobs – financial benefit, commute time, dissatisfaction with their boss, workplace conflict, no challenge or boredom, having a bad day, office politics – the list goes on.
Making the move for the wrong reason can have a long-lasting effect on your career. Regardless of what you say in an interview, when the inevitable question of your reasons for leaving your current role comes up, your reputation in the marketplace can reveal itself quickly.
If you’ve been experiencing long-standing problems or your current employer is unwilling, or unable, to change the circumstances for the better, then maybe it’s time to move. It’s often worth finding alternative ways of persevering through a difficult project or working with different teams if your boss can allow these compromises. But when you’ve exhausted all your options and you know it is 100% the right time to move on, your reputation is usually left unharmed.
Set next career goals
One of the most common questions you’ll be asked when meeting with construction recruitment agencies is: “What are you looking for in your next role?”
In an ideal world, most of us would want to work closer to home, be on a higher salary with more benefits, work fewer hours, and be part of a great team that works on interesting projects. In reality, we may be only able to secure two or three of these factors when changing jobs.
Decide which of these goals are most important to you and then map out potential companies that can offer the best mix of what you’re looking for. If you’ve only worked for one or two companies, or are new to the construction market, it’s worth taking the time to research construction companies and do your due diligence – and if possible, find out more about the people who work there so that you can start to build a picture of your ideal future employer to progress your construction career.
If you’re unsure how else to expand your research or find out what the real differences are between businesses, speak to your recruitment consultant, who will have existing relationships with multiple employers. But before fully engaging your job search, it’s better to have an idea of the following:
- The type of role you’re interested in
- The size of business you want to work for
- What market they specialise in – for example, residential, commercial or industrial
- What type of work they specialise in – for example, general construction or a specialist trade
Update your resume
Once you know what type of construction jobs you want to target, it’s time to advertise yourself. When it comes to writing your resume, the key thing to remember the resume’s actual purpose – to increase your likelihood of securing an interview, or an initial phone call at the very least.
However, your resume alone will not get you the job – so don’t waste valuable space listing every single responsibility you’ve had over the course of your career. Instead, keep it concise: focus on your key achievements with a short summary of your experience tailored to the specific role or the types of roles you’re applying for.
Have realistic expectations
Almost everyone wants higher pay, but in some cases a great job opportunity is worth taking even if it doesn’t mean a huge salary increase. If you can secure a modest pay rise or even keep your current salary but take advantage of other benefits such as a shorter commute time, more interesting project work or even a clear pathway to further progression and remuneration, you could consider it a win.
Of course, aim to tick all the boxes of what you initially decided you were looking for. But if a job offer comes along that ticks nearly all of them, it’s worth giving it some serious thought. If you feel unsure or undecided, it’s usually helpful to speak to your construction recruiter – talking through your concerns could mean that they provide you with more context, or they can speak to the employer and find out the answer for you.
Keep an open mind
It’s always worthwhile keeping an open mind when it comes to prospective jobs. If there’s a construction role available but it’s with a company you’ve never heard of, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad job. If the pay isn’t ideal but your gut feeling tells you that it’s the right job for you, perhaps you can take the job and negotiate a higher salary six to 12 months after commencement. Stay focused on what you initially set as your career goals, but be flexible in your job search too.
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