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Why you need more than technical skills to advance your career in construction

Posted by Hays Recruitment Expert on Thursday, Apr 11, 2019

Soft skills construction|Hays CA blogMany construction professionals have strong technical skills but may lack in the essential soft skills in order to succeed in their careers. In fact, the main challenge for our consultants in this industry is finding candidates who possess both hard skills and soft skills.

The soft skills gap in construction
Some of the most in-demand construction roles, such as estimators and site superintendents, can be hard to fill because they require professionals with excellent written and verbal communication skills. For instance, an estimator who is responsible for analysing and producing construction budgets, has to effectively document and communicate all details around the scope of the projects, how the costings came together, what has been included or excluded in a scope, and build the project bid/tender package with the project team.

Site superintendents need to effectively manage relationships with trades and employees on site to ensure the continued smooth operations of the construction site. They need to have clear and firm conversations, without adding fuel to the fire. They should also be able to clearly define the scope of the project, updates and present in front of key stakeholders during site visits or project meetings.

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During the screening and interview stage, recruiters are assessing whether candidates have the soft skills to support their technical skills. Here’s what to look out for if you’re being considered for a role in construction:

1. Email etiquette
Recruiters and employers are assessing your qualifications based on your first email interactions. If you are interested in the job opportunity, reply to the recruiter’s message as soon as you can. It’s also important to proofread your copy, make sure you’re addressing the right name or title, and be concise. Especially if you’re applying for a management role in construction, you would want to demonstrate strong writing abilities.

2. How well you talk about yourself
A lot of interviewees get stumped when they’re asked, “Tell me about yourself.” When asked this question, recruiters are looking for you to give an eloquent and concise snapshot of your experience and career highlights.

If you’re being interviewed for a site superintendent role, you want to be able to provide concrete examples of how you helped reduce costs on site project. Or if you’re being interviewed for an estimator role, you may have to demonstrate or explain how you calculated all of the project costs, materials pricing, schedules, sub-contractor agreements, and etc. Be succinct and provide a step-by-step explanation on how you achieved a result.


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Interviewers would ask other questions to determine your problem-solving skills. You may have to give an example of how you resolve disputes on site and/or how you handle situations that don’t go according to plan. Preparation is key. So it’s best practice to have your narratives ready before walking into the interview.

3. How you present yourself in person
Pay attention to the impression you’re leaving from the moment you enter the building and greet the receptionist. When it comes to dress code, look professional and dress in a suit if you’re being considered for an office or management role. For site supervisors, the dress code is smart casual/professional, where you can get away with nice pants and a button-up shirt.
When providing answers during the interview, be as honest and as forthcoming as possible. Always ask questions at the end to show your enthusiasm and engagement.

Additional advice
Even if you don’t land the role, you can always improve by asking for feedback. Attend public speaking workshops, networking events, and/or writing classes if communication isn’t your strong suit. Participating in industry events, organised by key industry bodies such as Construct Canada are excellent opportunities for you to build rapport and grow your network.

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Finally, if you’re a professional in this industry and would like some assistance preparing for an interview, our Hays expert consultants are here to help. 

For the latest construction jobs, click here.


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