Beyond the hammer and hard hat: Don’t overlook unique career opportunities in construction industry was originally published on College Recruiter.
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Are you an entry-level job seeker looking in accounting or finance, information technology, human resources, project management, engineering, customer service, or administration? Are you a woman or minority seeking an industry with career growth and upward mobility?
Then look no further than a career in the construction industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the construction industry to see an employment growth of 13.6 percent, or almost 520,000 new jobs by the year 2024. Companies across the country are seeking recent college grads to fill open positions, but old school stereotypes about the type of jobs and skills needed to succeed in the construction industry still exist – and that causes many recent college grads and entry-level job seekers to overlook careers in the construction industry.
Tim Mayer, Director of Talent Acquisition for Kraus-Anderson Construction Company (KA), understands those challenges and stereotypes, and he and other industry professionals are working diligently to change the perception and awareness about opportunities in construction.
Breaking down construction industry stereotypes
Kraus Anderson has about 500 employees, is based in Minnesota, and has a wide variety of divisions, but is primarily known for its commercial building division. When recruiting for open positions, Mayer and team face many of the same stereotypes as other construction companies across the country.
“The biggest misconception is one of men in hard hats swinging hammers and providing other labor,” says Mayer. “This is obviously a big part of what is needed in the industry, but also neglects the need for highly-educated and trained people in the construction and support roles listed above. In actuality, the construction industry is really a service industry with a focus on building and maintaining relationships.”
Tips for recent college grads seeking a career in the construction industry
Mayer says current college students and recent college grads seeking opportunities in the construction industry should research a company where they are interested in working at to find out about internships, and current job openings. The Kraus Anderson college recruiting program focuses on project and field engineer internships, and has also hired interns in accounting and HR role, pending on need. The company has developed relationships with about 13 colleges and universities to help fill internship roles throughout the company.
“I think there are some major misconceptions about careers in the construction industry that I have seen proven wrong time and time again in my over five years in the construction industry,” says Mayer. “I think most people would be surprised to learn that construction is also a very well paying industry, with an entrepreneurial spirit, where development and increased responsibility are readily available to those willing to learn and stretch their skills.”
Mayer is the prime example. He works in the construction industry, but he fills an important human resources leadership role in that industry. He received a B.A. in History from Saint John’s University in Collegeville, MN., and an M.A.in Human Resources and Industrial Relations from University of Minnesota’s Industrial Relations Center at the Carlson School of Management. Prior to KA, Mayer worked at Mortenson Construction, where he served as senior talent acquisition specialist. He was also a senior professional recruiter for Manpower Professional.
“Even though I have never built a project, I take great pride in pointing out landmark projects that the company has built,” says Mayer. “There is a real pride with the tangible and long lasting nature of our end products. The value of our work to society can never be underestimated as it is always visible.”
Women and minorities encouraged to apply
As for those seeking opportunities to wear the hard hat and swing a hammer – those opportunities are also available, and KA and other construction companies are working hard to attract more women into construction opportunities. There are many local and national organizations that partner with construction firms to help promote opportunities for women in construction and the trades. The National Association of Women in Construction is a network for professional women in the field of construction. The Washington Women in Trades Association was created for women working in the trades to gather and share information. Tradeswomen, Inc., is one of California’s first organizations for women in the trades and one of its goals is to recruit more women into construction and related non-traditional trades. Just about every state has an organization that supports careers for women and minorities in construction and the trades. Kraus Anderson is active in sponsoring and partnering with women’s campus organizations, as well as growing their partnership with the Society of Women Engineers (SWE).
“We have a variety of initiatives to continue to build diversity into our workforce with recruiting efforts targeted toward women, minorities, veterans, and others underrepresented in our field,” says Mayer. “These efforts not only target recent grads and experienced hires, but build deeper foundations through community involvement and support of organizations that reach students in elementary school to continue to build the notion that construction is a great field.”
Mayer continued: “I think old stereotypes persist, because there was some truth to them for such a long time. We realize that different educational backgrounds, skill sets, approaches, and life perspectives bring great value to our ability to deliver projects now and into the future.”
Soft skills crucial to success in construction industry
What do recruiters look for when hiring recent college grads in the construction industry? Soft skills stand out, says Mayer.
“Relationships are the cornerstone of our business, and because of that we seek candidates that can effectively communicate and coordinate/lead/manage large groups to foster these lasting relationships focused on solving problems,” says Mayer. “It is a given that a candidate needs to have a core set of construction skills to work in this industry, but the soft skills are the true differentiators that we seek. In today’s market, the candidates that have these skills are typically well taken care of and happy where they’re at. To get these candidates in the mix we are focusing on leveraging employee referrals and building a strong employment brand.”
Recent college grads, don’t overlook careers in the construction industry. It’s a great place to build a career. Get a jump start on learning about careers in the construction industry by signing up for personalized construction industry job alerts here. We’ll send you new job leads tailored to your interests and preferences and save you the trouble of searching for them on a regular basis.
Tim Mayer is Director of Talent Acquisition for Kraus-Anderson Construction Company.
About Tim Mayer
Tim Mayer is Director of Talent Acquisition for Kraus-Anderson Construction Company (KA) where he is responsible for creating and leading the company’s end-to-end hiring strategy. Mayer is strategically implementing a proactive strategy to attract top talent for KA’s immediate needs and build a pipeline for future needs, as the company grows. He applies a big-picture approach to provide an excellent candidate experience, while recruiting managers, grooming company leaders and providing a seamless transition as long-time employees retire.