Attracting top talent – what does perception have to do with it?

Construction perception Ellis Fox Blog

When interviewing candidates, it’s likely you make an assessment the minute they walk in the room. How they’re dressed, how they communicate – it all influences your initial perception of them. And if you’re honest that perception will likely influence how the interview is conducted. As hard as you try to be objective, it’s likely that some bias will influence the outcome. Unless the candidate says something to surprise you or change your initial perception of them.

Now consider a broader industry perspective. Working in construction, infrastructure and utilities you know that there’s a wealth of opportunity for top talent. There’s a high demand for skills and pipeline projects to work with emerging technologies and innovative construction methods. But that’s not the view of the general public.

First consider what the current perception is and what needs to change

Construction as an industry is perceived to be old school, dominated by men and involving hard physical labour. Historically, it’s a carbon intensive industry and slow to adapt and change. In other words; not progressive, not innovative, and not concerned about the environment. Despite knowing that’s a skewed generalization, it’s what’s out there, and it’s a perception that’s hurting the industry.

Why would women want to enter a sector where they think they’ll have to continually prove their worth? Why would young graduates with a strong interest in technology want to work in an industry that appears to be slow to get off the mark in terms of digital transformation?  There are few people unaware of the climate crisis, they don’t want to be part of an industry making things worse.

If construction companies want to attract more talent into the industry, what can they do to surprise people and change their perceptions?

  1. Use social media to showcase innovation, gender equity and environmental initiatives. Do it in an authentic way, not as a PR exercise.
  2. Comment on challenges and offer solutions when there’s bad press about the industry. This will help to highlight that there are many within the industry that do have an innovative solutions-based approach to working.
  3. Acknowledge the efforts of employees and their contributions to projects. In doing this on public forums it can show a different side to the industry, and demonstrate that top talent is valued.

There are many positives in the industry, it’s time for them to be talked about. Perhaps then more people will want to work in construction and the skills gap will start to close.