Best Practices For Hard To Fill Positions In Construction

There are many reasons why some mid-to-senior positions are harder to fill than others within construction. As we move into 2022, construction companies and organizations will continue to experience labor and talent shortages across the board for:

  • Project Managers
  • Estimators
  • Skilled / Trade Labor 
  • Superintendents 

Here are some things to consider when trying to find and attract talent for these hard to fill and specialized roles within construction.


Don’t Settle For Mediocre Talent And Beware Of “The Generalist”

Project Managers and Superintendents were already hard to come by pre-pandemic. The easy and quick solution that most construction companies employ to fill these talent gaps within the organization is to hire a Project Manager or Superintendent that is a generalist.These generalist candidates know very little about a lot of different areas in construction. As a result they are often a “Jack Of All Trades” and a master of none. This will leave a construction firm or the wider team to pick up the slack, skills and knowledge gaps and eventually result in the employee being terminated or worse – causing other team members to leave. 


Organizations should never settle for subpar talent. This will cost them more in the long run, rather than finding and hiring the best candidate the first time. Since this type of talent is scarce, working with an external search firm or recruiter that has already built relationships with these talent pools will be key to finding, engaging and hiring the best Project Managers and Superintendents.


Outreach And Networking

If you or your recruitment team are directly approaching a candidate for a role and the candidate is not interested, build a relationship or connection so your outreach and time is not wasted. If a candidate declines, ask if he/she/they know of any other colleagues, friends or peers with similar expertise that may be open to exploring the opportunity. This allows you to turn your unsuccessful outreach into a sourcing opportunity for engaging other like-minded, highly specialized talent in the market.  


Engage and Retain A Specialized And Reputable Recruiting Partner

When companies and organizations find recruiting for a specific role or positions too difficult, they end up partnering with a recruiting or search firm. An external recruitment partner already has deep relationships with the candidates you are trying to target for Project Management and Superintendent roles. These candidates are also more likely to accept a call or an interview from an external recruiter. Finding the right search firm or recruitment partner to work with is key, and must specialize in your field as this provides even deeper access to highly sought after talent. As we warned against hiring a generalist candidate earlier – the same is applicable when working with an external recruitment firm. Generalist recruitment agencies will staff for a lot of positions across a lot of different industries but their knowledge, understanding and insight into your specific talent needs, business goals and KPIs is very limited. Find and engage a search firm or recruitment partner that is specialized and knows the construction industry, is reputable and will serve as a trusted advisor throughout the entire recruitment process. 


The Candidate Experience

Sometimes when candidates are directly contacted by companies, confidentiality becomes an issue, especially if their skill sets are in high demand. As a result these candidates have the luxury of picking and choosing which interview process to withdraw from at any given time based upon the candidate experience with the recruiter. Creating a candidate experience that keeps a candidate engaged throughout the entire process will be a large influencing factor for whether a Project Manager or Superintendent chooses to work for your company. Here are some things to do to create a better candidate experience. 

  • Communicate regularly and clearly with next steps or check-ins with a candidate
  • Make interviews efficient and follow up with defined next steps
  • Keep the process moving and assure milestones are achieved on time
  • Never ghost a candidate even if they are moved forward in the process
  • Do not waste a candidate’s time and try not to reschedule interviews


Adapting And Aligning The Role

When an employee leaves a company for another opportunity or is promoted into a new role – that role will need to be backfilled. From a talent management and human capital strategy perspective – companies can use this as an opportunity to better refine the role to adapt and suit new processes or reporting structures, define a clearer path for growth, articulate stronger KPIs and review the responsibilities of the role to attract and excite candidates about the opportunity. Most companies fill a vacant position without taking the time to assess or reconfigure the role, which becomes a missed opportunity for long term planning and strategy and a misstep for attracting bright talent.


Setting Realistic Expectations 

When it comes to finding specialized talent for hard to fill positions and roles, construction firms and organizations will need to have realistic expectations for salary and availability from the beginning. Since competition for talent is fierce across the industry, companies can expect to pay a premium salary compared to a few years ago and will need to revamp their rewards and benefits programs to remain competitive. Some companies I work with as a search consultant and recruiter aren’t ready to accept this reality at the beginning of a search. As a result the search will extend for several months because their offer is not strong enough and eventually realize that they will need to raise their expectations to attract the best talent. 


About The Author. 

Jeff Raymond ( President and Founder of Raymond Search Group ( is an industry leading recruiter specializing in Construction and Real Estate, Engineering, Architecture, HVACR/R, Building Automation Systems, MEPF, and Manufacturing. Jeff is known for delivering the top 5% of industry talent to his clients with an unrivaled efficiency and network. Clients and candidates alike rely on Jeff as a trusted advisor through his recruiting expertise, and industry insight.

Jeff earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, Management and Operations from University of Massachusetts Lowell. He is experienced in the construction industry and is Procore certified in multiple areas. He is an active member of the Urban Land Institute, ASHRAE, the Institute of Refrigeration (IOR), and The OSHA Education Center Association.