Construction is poised for a boom. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the addition of over 864,000 construction jobs to the workforce by 2026, and the pace of building has already increased in a number of markets.
What does that mean for the average job seeker?
According to Aerotek Senior Technical Recruiter Lead Paula Jackson, “We're seeing a lot of openings, but not enough candidates to fill those openings.” Depending on how active your local market is, there’s a good chance you’re already working if you have a construction background. But are you in the best position to grow your career?
We asked Jackson how experienced candidates can take full advantage of a favorable hiring environment in construction.
Depending on regulations in your market, some certifications may be required to even set foot on a job site. Others may be more “nice to have,” or set you up for career growth by demonstrating your leadership potential or specialized skill.
“In my market, OSHA 10 Construction Safety and Health is always required regardless of the position,” says Jackson. “It is a safety class that can be taken online or in a class, and not difficult to get, so it’s worth earning even if you’re in a role where it’s not required. When you start to move up to foreman, superintendent or project manager, the OSHA 30 is normally required.”
It’s good to be familiar with your local regulations and requirements, and see what certifications are right for your goals.
Plan a path
Building a career in construction isn’t like it used to be. Before, it was more of a challenge to find an available position. That’s not as frequently the case today. This means the average construction job seeker has options. So, which option is best?
Jackson explains, “When I talk to candidates, I always ask, ‘What are you looking for in your next role?’ If they don't know, I'll work with them to clarify what would be best based on an understanding of why they decided to pursue a particular education or what they like to do. That’s when I’m able to help be an effective career advisor — just by getting to know them and their goals and their interests by asking questions.”
By having conversations with a trusted advisor who knows your market, you’ll be able to develop a career plan that best suits your goals and interests.
Even though the current environment for construction hiring is favorable for qualified candidates, don’t go through it alone. You may be missing out on opportunities that can only come through strong professional connections.
“Because I’m talking to people all day, I'm able to have a good dialogue with everybody about the industry,” says Jackson. “We get to compare notes about what they've been seeing, and what I've been seeing. It can be worthwhile for job seekers to learn what sort of opportunities are out there, and it helps me build trust that’s going to help a lot if we’re working together.”
And when you develop a professional network, it works for you in ways you might not recognize immediately. Jackson explains, “Even if I don’t have a perfect match for a position right away, when I have a solid professional relationship with a candidate, they're usually the first phone call that I make when I do have an opportunity open.”
Find an advocate
Another advantage of reaching out to a staffing partner is that you’ll benefit from the relationship they have with employers. Whereas applying on your own may result in your being looked over as an ideal candidate for a position, a recruiter is able to promote your value.
Says Jackson, “Sometimes employers have unrealistic expectations for what they want and what they’re willing to pay, and that’s when I’m able to talk frankly to them and adjust their requirements. I’ve often placed candidates that were a little more junior than the employer had envisioned at the start, but I was able to convince the hiring manager to be flexible — and the person developed perfectly through on-the-job training.”
On the other hand, Jackson notes that some employers may be reluctant to pay the higher salaries experienced candidates demand. “That's where I can talk with hiring managers about the value of experience, how those candidates are able to deliver for you right away, as opposed to requiring a long training process,” she says. Based on her relationship with the employer, she’s often able to convince them to be more flexible in their hiring.
Construction is booming with opportunities. If you’re ready to take full advantage, reach out to a partner who can help you get where you want to go. Aerotek recruiters are some of the best in the country at finding positions for the job seekers they talk to daily. Want to see it first hand? Reach out today.
If you’re looking for a job, visit our job board to find your next great opportunity. Create a free career account today to customize your search. And consider contacting an expert career advisor: Our recruiters are available to provide advice you can use.