Recruiting Strategies: It’s Time to 'Fish in New Pools'

Got work to do but not enough construction workers to get it done? You’re not alone. Here are some creative ways contractors are finding new sources of labor.

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Caterpillar Inc.

This blog was updated on 6/6/2023.

Here’s a catch-22: For many contractors, there’s lots of potential work in the pipeline. But the ongoing labor shortage means there may not be enough equipment operators, service technicians and laborers to get it done. What’s the solution? Many of those we talk to are getting creative in their hunt for new employees — “fishing in new pools,” as one of them put it. Here are some of the steps they’re taking:

  • Offering part-time hours to retirees: You probably know someone who retired early and six months later was itching to get out of the house and back to work. Construction retirees may not want to return to work full time, but some companies are taking advantage of their experience and skills for a limited number of hours each week or month.
  • Going old-school with job postings: LinkedIn, Indeed, ZipRecruiter — online job boards are great tools, and you should definitely be using them. But contractors are also seeing success with offline recruiting, particularly in smaller communities. They’re printing and posting job openings on bulletin boards at churches, apartment complexes, grocery stores, laundromats, restaurants and bars. (Just make sure to ask the manager first.)
  • Scheduling open houses and tours: There’s still a misconception that construction is dirty, low-tech work. Some construction firms are finding the best way to change that perception is to get people onto their jobsites and into their shops. It’s a chance to show them the level of technology at work and the professionalism of today’s workforce — not to mention how clean, safe and comfortable modern equipment is.
  • Connecting with local military: Is there a military base near you? Many people who retire from the military after 20 years of service are still quite young — in their 40s. Others decide to leave early and put down roots locally. Military HR teams often are interested in helping those retiring or leaving the service find employment with area companies. And a lot of contractors report that workers with military experience bring many of the “soft skills” in demand on construction sites: discipline, teamwork and respect for leadership.
  • Reaching into high schools and even grade schools: The construction industry has always been good about connecting with faculty and students at community colleges and trade schools. But now many contractors are realizing that they need to start reaching kids at even younger ages. They’re looking for opportunities to participate in career days and offering up their sites for field trips. Again, it’s all about changing the perception of construction work.
  • Asking current employees for help: Your employees are on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and TikTok. They’re texting, Zooming and FaceTimeing. They can post a job opening and reach people you won’t. They can hear about a friend looking for work and connect that person with you. Follow the lead of other companies and incentivize your team to help with recruiting — a bonus for bringing in a candidate or a new hire goes a long way.

In today’s environment, recruiting the way you’ve always done it just won’t cut it anymore. Try putting some of these ideas to work and brainstorming other “new pools” in your area. For more ideas, tune into this episode of The Contractor’s Best Friend Podcast.

This blog was updated on 6/6/2023.