The Skills You Need To Be a Construction Leader

An African American man and Caucasian woman wearing hard hats and safety vests walk through a construction site.

If you’re looking to make your mark in a growing construction industry, your timing couldn’t be better. It’s a growing industry and with a significant amount of construction workers approaching retirement there is plenty of opportunity for advancement. The demand for people suited for positions like foreman and superintendent is skyrocketing.

But leadership roles by their nature need certain essential skills that often take years to get. Aerotek Business Development Executive Scott Minto has over a decade of recruiting experience and currently supports employers in the construction industry. He knows what leadership skills construction companies are looking for and what workers can do to earn management and supervisory roles. Here is what he suggests:

Hone your communication skills

Leadership skills take time to develop. The ability to communicate is a skill that you can improve at any stage of your career. It’s especially helpful if you aspire to reach a construction management position.

“The best leaders in construction are the ones who have a high level of interpersonal skills. These leaders get everyone on the same page to get a task done. They’re effective communicators, and great at conflict resolution,” says Minto.

Construction workers with strong communication skills are in a good position to take on leadership roles. However, leadership is more than delivering orders. It also requires being a great listener and the ability to accurately relay concerns to other workers or teams. Like other skills, communication gets better with repetition. Fortunately, construction sites provide numerous opportunities to improve your ability to communicate daily.

Understand the company’s culture and unique challenges

Even if your experience is less than optimal, some construction firms may place more value on cultural alignment within the company and business acumen. “I’ve had a VP of Operations tell me that if we could find him someone with the right personality and basic knowledge of construction, he could teach them the rest,” says Minto.

Fitting into the company culture is important. You can make a better impression by demonstrating your knowledge of the company’s specific business challenges. Stay updated on company news, upcoming projects and competition. Current supervisors are likely to take note if you’re expressing a genuine interest in your employer’s performance.

Employers want to find people who are going to fit in the workplace culture and demonstrate ambition. "We placed a contractor who had three months of construction experience and a mathematics degree, but six months after being hired, he became an entry-level Project Manager for a major General Contractor in Nevada” says Minto.

The appetite for leaders in construction is strong. Take advantage by clearly demonstrating you’re interest in the company and your will to take on additional responsibilities.

Get familiar with construction software

Earning a leadership position isn’t only about your communication skills and business knowledge. You’ll also need some basic computer skills. There are several construction project management programs used to track costs, supplies, schedules and even when construction companies bid on jobs. Employers are also seeking workers with a basic understanding of CAD (computer-aided design) and architectural drawings. Gaining exposure to these programs and familiarizing yourself with how they are used in the program.

Advancing your career in construction takes time. However, you may be able to reach your goal more quickly by focusing on the skills valued most by construction employers.

If you're ready to step into a leadership role in the construction industry, we’re ready to help you find the right opportunity.