Simple Ways to Attract Top Applicants in Today’s Employment Environment

Attention to simple online applications and writing appealing help-wanted listings helps attract plenty of candidates to fill valuable positions in construction management

Job Application

Construction firms can adapt their job listings to attract larger pools of candidates to fill open job positions. Kathy Cole, president of DK Cole Co., an executive search firm with a specialty division for construction operations and finance management positions, offered attendees at the 2017 Construction Financial Management Association Annual Conference some advice that challenges the typical approach many firms use to market their job openings.

“There are some really basic things you can all do to improve the number of candidates you have for any opening in your company:

“First, whatever your online application platform is for candidates to apply for a job, it must be mobile optimized. Over 77% of job seekers us mobile devices to apply for jobs. So it’s really important to have the site you’re sending candidates to be mobile optimized.

“It can’t be overly complex or time consuming,” Cole adds. “Sixty percent of candidates will abandon the application process online if it’s too long or too complicated.”

She says a potential candidate should be able to let you know that they want to apply in five minutes, and give you enough basic information that you can determine if you want to follow up.

“Most job postings are written from the company’s point of view,” Cole says, warning that competition today puts the onus on employers to appeal to the prospective employee’s priorities. “You have to write from the candidate’s point of view. Candidates read postings looking for information in a particular order:

  1. Company information: location, history and reputation, stability and growth
  2. WIIFM (what’s in it for me): can they get flexible hours, tuition assistance, other employee-centric benefits
  3. Role: how does the open position contribute to the company’s success? What’s the career path for that role?
  4. Background: lastly, they look at whether they think they’re qualified

“This is an area where people get really confused because most of us think of job postings and hiring as a human resources function, but it is actually much more in the wheelhouse of sales and marketing, on the front end,” Cole says.

She points out that the greatest human fear is rejection, and recommends avoiding desired-background descriptions that include words like “must have” and “required.”

“These words might discourage people who you might consider for the role from applying,” she explains. “It only takes one good person to fill a position, and [this wording] might require wading through some people who are not qualified, but it will be worth it to find the right person.”

Better alternatives are “experience with” or “familiarity with.”

More on Developing More Effective Hiring Practices

Cole called the weaknesses she routinely sees in her clients’ employment practices “hiring process risks” because they allow the best job candidates to slip away from talent-constrained construction companies. Here are links to her explanations of the five key risks:

  1. Writing the wrong candidate profile
  2. Attracting a small candidate pool
  3. Slow hiring process
  4. Poor candidate interview experience and employer brand
  5. Mismanaged offer process and due diligence