Say “Yes” to Considering New Recruits from Outside Construction

The “new recruit” for the contractor may not only not come from the construction industry, they most likely will not even have been close to anything resembling the construction industry

Leader Talking To Crew Freedigitalphotos

There’s not a contractor around who will say no to looking at new candidates for hire. However, what they may say “No” to, or at least, “Let me think about it,” is when that candidate is not from the construction industry. For many of the contractors I work with, that limited perspective started changing several years ago.

The “new recruit” for the contractor may not only not come from the construction industry, they most likely will not even have been close to anything resembling the construction industry. Sure, we’ll still pick up a few construction workers here and there, but for the vast majority of contractors, looking in some non-traditional areas might be needed to fill those slowly depleted available workers.

A brief example might demonstrate just how far away from construction we might need to be open to look. Contractor “Bob” visits a local drive-through chain to grab a quick bite before meeting a customer just after lunch with their bid. While sitting in the restaurant it becomes obvious that the drive-through speaker is not working, cars are piling up in the drive-through lane, and the inside business is picking up quickly to customers taking their lunch break.

In all the commotion, the store manager loses his cool, begins to bark out orders to his workers, rattling their confidence with his yelling and letting a few profanities slip out, and then walks into his office and slams his door shut. Then, Contractor Bob begins to see something that will impress him more than anything in a long while.

Within minutes of the emergency, a young store worker calmly and carefully regains control, explaining to other workers to take care of the inside customers and that he will address the drive-through customers. Within a matter of 5-10 minutes the emergency is resolved, leaving happy customers and more confident workers. After the turmoil relaxed and the lunch line began to diminish, Contractor Bob asks to talk to the young man who took such incredible leadership strides to right the wrong.

“Young man,” Contractor Bob begins, “Whatever you’re making here I’ll pay you $5 more an hour to work for me.”

“What do you do sir?” asks the “miracle worker.

“I’m into asphalt paving and sealcoating,” responds Contractor Bob.

“Sir, I don’t know anything about asphalt or sealcoating.”

“Young man, you don’t have to. I’ll teach you the business, but I can’t teach what I just witnessed over the past 20 minutes.”

Not only did “Contractor Bob” hire the young fast-food worker, the young guy has been with the contractor for years now, and sure to the owner’s word, now is running one of his crews.

Look to non-traditional industries for employees

My point here is only to demonstrate that we may have to be open to look at very non-traditional construction industries to find the new recruits. Such people are out there and we have to find a way to get on to their radar of work opportunities. Let me share a few quick tips to looking for the new recruit.

  • Begin to sponsor local high school/middle school events.
  • Volunteer to speak at events geared at students, i.e. career days, etc.
  • Visit with workers at local stores, especially the hardware “do-things-yourself” chains.
  • Hold your own company “Job Fair” on a Saturday and promote through local newspapers, radio, YMCAs, churches, schools, etc.
  • Promote some “learning Saturdays” for recruits from networking with your current workers.
  • Don’t be shy about asking workers at stores, restaurants, etc. of their interest to improve their economical situation (Think Contractor Bob)
  • Revamp your own company web page to be more “millennial” attractive.

Keeping applications to fill out near your front door isn’t bad, it just may not be enough to really go after the untrained talent who just may be your next recruit with loads of potential. As we continue to see such huge numbers of shortages of workers in the entire construction industry, the pavement maintenance contractor who gets creative and aggressive will win more of the battles out there over the yet to be hired recruits destined to be in our industry.

Here’s to improving your recruiting strategies!

Brad Humphrey is President of Pinnacle Development Group, an international consultant to the construction industry. Brad is a regular contributor to this magazine and speaker at the annual National Pavement Expo conferences. For more information about Brad and his company, please go to