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New Hire on the Jobsite

Using Technology to Recruit New Talent to Construction Jobs

Hint: Video games and smartphones.

Construction companies are keen to attract new talent to the industry, and to their companies, in order to fill the sizable gap left by retiring boomers and help solve the skilled labor shortage. An increasingly popular strategy for doing so is leveraging technology. 

For the love of video games 

One recruiting trend taps into an apparently ardent love of video games. 

To that end, some companies, schools, unions and construction organizations are using simulators — complete with joysticks, pedals, throttles, monitors with live action on the screen and real machine sounds — to introduce new talent to the feeling of operating heavy equipment such as excavators, loaders and cranes.  

A recent New York Times article quoted trade school student Trey Henry, who used a professional simulator: “I was on the excavator and digging a trench, and I got stuck a little bit, and it jerks you like you’re stuck,” Mr. Henry said. “You actually feel the chair moving when you pull the dirt.” Henry was hooked and decided that a job working with heavy equipment is for him.

Text me maybe 

Simpler, cheaper tech is also coming in handy for recruiting new talent. When it comes to communication, email is out and texting is in — or at least, that’s the direction recruitment is trending. 

New talent likely already has their smartphone in hand, and, if they’re in the job market, they’re probably using it to job hunt. According to data from Indeed, the job listings search engine, in 2016, 78 percent of new talent used mobile devices to find jobs. Construction was second on the list of occupations with the highest rate of mobile job searching across generations. 

“No one ignores texts, so the engagement is phenomenally high,” said Joe Weinlick, chief marketing officer at Nexxt, as quoted in a Human Resource Executive article.

Some recruiters are using text messaging to reach out to new leads. Texting can also help them seal the deal quickly. Brain Binke, CEO of construction search firm The Birmingham Group, noted in 5 Ways to Attract Top Construction Talent that speed is important in hiring. “There is a saying in the industry: ‘Candidates are like ice sculptures in 100-degree weather.’ Clear, timely communication is critical to closing the deal.”

Companies that want to use text messaging on their own for recruiting can do it with the help of apps such Nexxt’s Text2Hire, which lets them create targeted text campaigns.  

A few pieces of advice: Texts are hardest to ignore when they’re relevant and fun, not to mention short and well-timed. 

Embracing tech on the jobsite 

When playing the high-stakes recruiting game with new talent, using the latest tech on your jobsite is like having an ace in hole. Candidates coming out of construction management programs in particular want to use tools such as BIM, laser scanning, drone mapping and AR and VR. When pitching jobs at your company to new talent, touting the tech you use can lend you a critical advantage.

RELATED: Virtual Reality: Helping Workers Learn Construction by Doing

Technology is key to boosting productivity in the construction industry. Increasingly, it’s also key to bringing in the new workers it needs.

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