by Colm Allen
The most valuable traits in the new economy will be curiosity, communication, attitude and largess. This is the mantra of leading business thinkers. With close to full employment out there, there is a scarcity of top grade employees in most arenas. Every day we see clients reject potentially great candidates because they are not a “perfect 10 in our world”. We hear “they don’t do what we do”. Yet the cover of the Harvard Business Journal this month says “experience is over-rated.” They are arguing that potential is way more desirable than your last job title. We could not agree more.
As recruiters we see it all the time. A good PM, well trained in a great system like Toll Bros or Avalon bay, is rejected because he/she is assumed to be ignorant about Hi-Rise or lab/healthcare construction. Employers are hurting themselves by rejecting outright, incredibly well educated candidates from other disciplines. We see companies who have become staid, full of like-minded “experts” badly in need of some new blood in the office to dilute their homogeneity. Companies need employees who are capable of taking them to the next generation of design and technology rather than more Lego builder types.
The marketplace is changing rapidly. That junior PM who insists on checking Facebook during work, is just a likely to text for business or Instagram a photo of a problem to a sub. Or Twitter to friends he has a great work environment. Someone who understands BIM could possibly teach CAD skills internally. He/she will even check his/her work email at the movies or in a social setting. Nothing is going to be like it was before and only the most creative, open, progressive companies will survive.
The next wave of talent in our business of construction/real estate don’t want or need to be managed. They want to lead. Your job as an employer is not to hire more managers but to hire more leaders. Next generation employees have more knowledge at their fingertips that we have in libraries. But they need to learn how to apply their knowledge. Leaders share knowledge, encourage responsibility, empower, communication and often, quite simply, replicate themselves. There’s the value right there.
Google does not hire for a particular role, they simply hire talent. They say it’s their responsibility to employ talent that can solve problems and often hire candidates without a formal education. A major local GC in Boston, hired as head of Biz Dev, an expert from a major software company with great success. At Construction Recruiters, we have placed executives who, on paper, were not 100% qualified but who prospered in their new roles because of their proven adaptability and flexible, can do attitude.
Lastly, there is the issue of retention. Modern employees will not stay for money alone. The will be loyal mainly for life enhancing opportunities. The best way to exploit this is to allow existing staff explore what else they can do for you. Be open to their curiosity, and accommodating to their desire to expand. For companies who get this right, the only thing lower than your turnover rate will be your recruiting fees.
Colm Allen is President at Construction Recruiters, Inc.