5 Ways to Step Up Your Construction Recruitment Game in the UK

5 minute read

Editor’s note: Sections of this article originally appeared in OpenWage

Against a nationwide recruitment crisis, finding and hiring the right talent can feel like an ongoing battle for recruiters in all fields—especially in construction.  

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If you’d like to fill those roles faster—from finding project managers or construction superintendents—you’ve got to come prepared for today’s market. 

We’ve got some great recruitment tips. But first, let’s take a closer look at how we got here.

What’s Causing the Recruitment Crisis? 

As you ponder how to find candidates to fill your vacancies, you’re likely experiencing some challenges. The good news is you’re not alone.  

From March to May 2022, job vacancies rose to a new record of 1.3 million—an increase of 20,000 from the previous quarter and more than one-half million since pre-pandemic numbers.  

In fact, employers advertised 1.69 million jobs in the week to June 12, a record for 2022. The construction sector saw some of the most significant rises, with solid demand for tool makers, carpenters, and construction supervisors.


 Tearing up the Rulebook  

Of course, COVID-19 has had a lingering impact. In its initial aftermath, many recruiters felt it was time to tear up the old recruitment rulebook. Hiring in a post-COVID world isn’t the same as it used to be.  

Then there is the skills gap. According to the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the skills gap is nothing new and was only exacerbated by the pandemic and Brexit. While relying on workers from abroad, the UK was able to fend off the skills gap. But with a decreased work pool and few tax-funded industrial training boards, the UK may not be able to bridge the gap for much longer. 

Many in construction are struggling to attract candidates during one of the most challenging times in recruitment history. This makes it an ideal time to steer a new direction for your recruitment strategy to give your business the best chance to secure the right employees for your vacant roles.  


Staying Agile to Recruit More Effectively

Adjusting to the new normal means recruitment tips are evolving.  Changing trends combined with a new workforce outlook means organizations must stay agile with their recruitment strategies—whether you’re making workers feel safe on the jobsite with the latest personal protective equipment (PPE) or offering upskilling opportunities.  

Here are some broad strategic steps your team can take to elevate your company above the rest. 

1. Tell Your Company’s Story 

Standing out from other companies isn’t always easy. Take some time to consider what makes you different. Are you a family-run construction firm or do you use the latest technology like drones or BIM software? 

Focus on your organization’s uniqueness, its character, and its foundations. Did the idea for your company start in an interesting place or situation? Be sure to tell your company story in an engaging way that makes others want to be part of it—whether you’re laying bricks or designing a high-rise building.   

Bonus tip: 

If you don’t know your company’s history, try speaking informally to the founders, owners, or CEO. It’s the small, unique details that can have the greatest impact.

 2. Showcase Job Security & Salary

One advantage when recruiting for construction is that pay is on the rise. In London, the overall average pay for construction is £63,000, more than 8% higher than their counterparts in the Southeast—the next highest-paid at £58,323. 

When it comes to recruiting, a good salary certainly helps. For some, it’s not the single driving factor. Research from a YouGov survey reveals that 51% of people rate job security as most important.  

With high demand for all trades in construction, those who choose this field can feel confident in their job security as the construction outlook is strong. According to the Construction Industry Training Board, the construction industry needs to recruit 50,000 people a year to meet demand. 

With public and private funds put into training and apprenticeship programs, it’s important that those participating in this training end up with a permanent, well-paid, and secure job.  

Another potential game-changer is on-demand pay. Although relatively new, it could help you stand out from your competitors. For example, on-demand pay from Openwage gives employees the flexibility to choose when they get paid.

3. Be Sure to Get Personal

With increased pressure to fill multiple vacancies comes a reliance on HR technology. There is a danger that the recruitment process may come across as a little less personal and more robotic.  

While there’s no doubt that HR tech can help drive recruitment success, showing your human side during the recruitment process is important.  

For starters, your job advert should call out minimal technical and practical skills, trade school qualifications, and construction experience. Also, include a list of responsibilities like schedules and materials, installing electrics, cutting and welding pipe, or pouring concrete. 

But how can you truly engage with candidates? 

- Avoid overly corporate language in your job adverts. You’re appealing to humans, so speak like one! 

- Show genuine interest in your applicants. While assessing their professional skills, you should take the time to get to know and understand them on a more personal level. They’ll remember you for it. 

- Don’t leave candidates hanging. Ignoring their emails or messages will only drive them away. Nobody likes to feel ignored. 

Bonus tip: 

Put yourself in your candidates’ shoes. How would you like to be treated if you were them? Would you want to know salary and how well you retain other employees?

4. Use Social Media as a Recruiting Tool

While many in construction turn to job boards to advertise job openings, don’t forget about the power of social media. Many in construction aren’t aware of the immense benefits it can offer when it comes to talent attraction strategies. One of the best recruitment tips is to leverage social media to recruit.  

Using social media to tell your story and show what life is like at your company can be an eye-opening experience. Showcasing your company or employer brand helps candidates understand the way you work and whether they’re a good fit for you.  

Knowledge is key here. Find out where your desired audience hangs out online and target that platform. Here’s a snapshot of several social platforms and the typical age range of users: 

- Facebook’s largest user group is those aged 25 to 35 

- Instagram is similar to Facebook, however, 18 to 24-year-olds come a close second on Instagram 

- On TikTok, it’s 10 to 19-year-olds who dominate this platform 

- Twitter users are mainly in the 18 to 29-year-old bracket 

- LinkedIn’s largest group is made up of 25 to 34-year-olds 

To get the best out of recruiting via social media, be human, regular, and honest to build trust and engage prospective candidates. Spend time creating engaging content that gives a real insight into your company. 

Bonus tip: 

To get more eyes on your job postings, you may need to invest in paid ads (also called ‘boosted’ or ‘sponsored’ posts). 


Fill Vacant Roles Faster 

Thinking differently about how you attract candidates using these recruitment tips will bring you closer to your target of filling vacant roles faster.  

By improving your image, you’ll establish a positive employer brand. You’re more likely to attract engaged, suitable candidates even before the job advert gets posted.  

Also, don’t forget, the average age of construction workers in the UK is 43 years old, according to economic researchers at the Fraser of Allander Institute (FAI) in Glasgow

Younger workers are also less likely to embrace manual data entry or enjoy tracking projects with spreadsheets and emails. In this case, a streamlined project management solution could help to bridge the digital divide.  

More importantly, construction technology is all about efficiency and helping you do more with less. If you can speed up the planning and preconstruction phase, it will be much easier to stay on schedule and rely on fewer workers. 

Ready to ditch manual processes and adopt a more streamlined approach. It might be time to make the leap and implement construction technology on your projects and organization.  Get started here.   Asite_Digital_Transformation_Guide

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