The 4 Most Common Pitfalls in Heavy Civil and Commercial Construction Recruiting

By putting in the proper time and energy into a hiring process, and avoiding the most common mistakes in heavy civil and commercial construction recruiting, companies will end up with more successful hires and a more profitable bottom-line.


Employees are the most valuable assets a company possesses. We all know this. 


Deep diving into the construction industry, with a rapidly diminishing pool of qualified talent, it is essential that companies pay close attention to their hiring process to achieve a competitive advantage. 


There is a finite timeline for every successful hiring process, and there are many details that need to be addressed during this period. And yes, as with most proven business practices, the devil is in the details. 


If hiring managers can avoid the following most common mistakes in heavy civil and commercial construction recruiting top candidates, their company will achieve a higher return on money and time spent recruiting, which will, overall, improve the company's bottom line.

Pitfall #1 - Salary Discussions


The first mistake that can quickly derail a deal at any time is falling into the trap of "asking about salary" vs. "discussing compensation." 


All too often, we are tempted to jump to that single magical number when, in more cases than not, it can be very misleading. 


In discussing compensation, you must understand your compensation plan in detail. Secondly, you need to obtain not only the candidate's current base salary but also a salary history of their last two or three companies, which must be broken out from bonuses. 


Don't forget to ask about vehicle policy, 401K plan, profit sharing, and medical/dental out-of-pocket costs. 


Finally, there is a vast difference between base salary and total compensation.


Therefore, the hiring manager and the candidate need to be on the same page discussing and comparing apples to apples with all details documented.

Pitfall #2 - Lack Of Reference Checks


Another common mistake in heavy civil and commercial construction recruiting is not running enough reference checks. 


Often, when only doing one or two references, a red flag you might have initially ignored will reemerge on subsequent references and probably require further evaluation. 


The bottom line is the more reference checks, the better. 


The most relevant aspects of a candidate's personality, capabilities, or performance will rarely pop up in isolation. These would be part of a context that you can better understand if you have more than 1 or 2 references. 


A negative reference may be further explained or given a different perspective by additional references. 


Take the following tips into account when carrying out your candidates' reference checks: 


  • Request a list of five or six professional contacts to verify performance capabilities.
  • Make sure you develop a written list of consistent questions to be asked from each reference.
  • Write down the actual statements to avoid misinterpreting the reference's comments.


If the candidate is still working, make sure you double-check which references may be contacted. You might feel urged to contact all references given without confirming with the candidate first. 




If this reference leaks out the recruiting process to others, or the candidate's current company, the candidate's current position could be at risk. 


Do not set yourself up for a lawsuit should they be fired for looking for a new job, and you do not hire the candidate.

 Pitfall #3 - Communication


The third most common mistake is ineffective communication and lack of timely feedback during the hiring process. Sadly, this can and tends to happen throughout different stages of the process. 


One way in which ineffective communication is presented is through unclear feedback. 


Vague or delayed initial and recurrent feedback throughout the different stages of the hiring process sends the wrong message to an interested candidate. 


You need to make sure your communication and communication channels are focused on managing the candidates' expectations. 


For instance, most hiring managers employ inside recruiters and talent management professionals to locate qualified talent. 


Allow them to be the catalyst in the process and use their talents to keep it moving and to be the company's spokesperson (especially if your schedule is back to back and you won't be able to follow up with the best-qualified candidates). 


A couple of additional tips in this regard: 


  • If you need to reschedule an interview, make sure you take the time to reassure the candidates that they are still very much in the running.
  • If a candidate goes through your hiring process, fits your criteria and the company culture, and is excited about your opportunity... what are you waiting for? Make an offer!
  • Don't lose a good candidate to the competition for delaying feedback.

Pitfall #4 - Reactive Vs. Proactive Hiring


The last most common mistake in the hiring process is having a reactive approach to a company's hiring process instead of a proactive approach. 


All too often, companies wait until an employee leaves or a position becomes open before they begin searching. 


In a tight labor market, this practice can be very costly in both lost productivity and in the time and talent required to fill the position, not to mention the ramp-up time to get that new employee accustomed to your company's policies and procedures. 


Once you've made your decision to bring in a new employee or a new position is authorized, expect a five to eight-week time frame to see that person start their new position. 


Constant sourcing and networking with the local industry and qualified candidates will yield a more efficient and effective recruiting process. 


A company half a person long on talent resources is better than half a person short since hurried hiring decisions oftentimes results in a bad hire.


By putting in the proper time and energy into a hiring process and avoiding these common pitfalls, companies will end up with more successful hires and a more profitable bottom-line.


Read more about the benefits of working with a heavy civil-specialized construction recruiter.  



Are you falling into any (or all) of these pitfalls? If your answer is yes, we can help you at Peterson Consulting Group. 


In 25 years, Peterson Consulting Group has acted as the bridge between talented professionals and businesses in the heavy civil, heavy highway, and commercial construction sector that needs the talent to get every position filled by the right person. We have successfully filled over 7,000 positions, and PCG can do the same for you.

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