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Some thoughts from the client side ...

I was lucky enough to have a recent conversation with a past hiring manager of mine that offered to write down his thoughts for a blog to help capture the client side of things. No ... I didn't bribe him to be so honest and say nice things (in case you were wondering)! Enjoy the Guest Blog below and feel free to email me your stories, experiences, or any questions you have!

Mandi Welch

When I ask, “What makes your company so successful?” the response from company leaders will often sound something like, “It’s all about our people.” All too often, this response is delivered with the passion of a robot, as if it were being read directly from a little core values cheat sheet carried in the president’s pocket. Boring. Thankfully for most employees, the response to my question is usually delivered with the determination and sincerity one would expect from an inspiring and invested company president or senior manager, like the CEO who recently told me, “It’s all about our people and the culture we create together.” I like that.

Business success really is all about the people, and in the world of construction and engineering, finding good people is currently as competitive an endeavor as winning the work itself. Company leaders who seek the right employees for the right reasons are winning. And they are investing for the win.

How do I know this? Finding great employees has recently become the focus of nearly every conversation I have with clients and colleagues in our industry. No matter where our conversation starts, we always arrive at one pointed statement: “We need people. And we need them now.” From project managers and estimators to HR staff and accountants, the need spans all departments and with a kind of exasperated urgency. Company leaders are painfully aware of their growing personnel needs, but they lack the resources or the time to do anything about it RIGHT NOW.

I understand their dilemma because I have been there myself. Having worked in operations and business development in construction for the last twenty years, I have felt the employee crunch several times. And as much as I would like to directly help my friends in the industry with their growing personnel shortages, I’m no recruiter. Sure, I know people, but these ladies and gents are looking for three, seven, sometimes dozens of qualified people! I have experienced the same slow, frustrating interview and hiring process my colleagues have. I have hired the wrong person and regretted it later. I have smashed my face into the closed window of opportunity when the perfect job candidate found another employment opportunity before I could find the time to schedule a second interview.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, the best advice I can give you is to seek out a strong third party recruiter. No, I don’t mean you should respond to the random phone call or LinkedIn message from the pushy recruiter you have never met. Find a great third party recruiter through references of colleagues you already know - one who will focus exclusively on your individual hiring assignment. Selecting the right recruiter and agreeing to exclusivity are the keys to success. The recruiter should agree to actively find and deliver qualified job candidates only to you, and you should agree to only engage this recruiter for a particular assignment.

Based on the positive experiences my colleagues and I have had in working with third party recruiters, here are seven benefits to hand picking recruiters who truly invest in you and your needs:

  1. They first seek to understand your individual needs and they search accordingly. One size does not fit all.

  2. They understand how to leverage technology and personal relationships to find the right people for your team.

  3. They are able to find multiple highly qualified candidates within a week or two of beginning a search.

  4. They deliver great people for you to interview because they seek out that singular win-win for the candidate and you.

  5. They communicate progress in a format and frequency that best suits you.

  6. They provide a hiring “firewall” that eliminates any appearance of "employee poaching” from other companies.

  7. They are enthusiastic and actually make the process of finding great people fun. Yes, I said fun. Loosen up.

I will admit that not everybody thinks the way I do. Some employers are so desperate for people today, the hiring game for them is more about quantity than quality. I wish them well. But for my colleagues in the AEC industry who place as much value on chemistry and culture as they do on technical ability, the one-on-one relationship with a great recruiter is time and money well-spent.

See ... that wasn't as cheesy and full of cliches as most recruiting articles are, right?? I think the big key here is to find the right relationship for your needs and have fun while working together to find great people.

Stay tuned for more informative and fun posts!

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