The Department of Labor just announced construction of a new Phillips 66 headquarters in Houston, TX. The project will employ approximately 1,000 workers and 100 contractors. Construction begins in early December. Read the OSHA news release for complete details about that opportunity. (I hope someone in Houston is reading.)
Large volume hiring events always present good opportunities. Here are some strategies that have worked in the past for leveraging large construction projects into construction jobs for clients and long term employer relationships in the building trades.
- Network Early and Watch for Turnover. The earlier you can find out about projects like this and begin making contacts the better. But, it’s never too late to try. There will be initial hiring, but turnover or staff adjustments will likely create more openings early in the project.
- Look for Several Potential Points of Initial Contact. If you can’t find a good contact in the company itself, call around to a few staffing agencies and try to find out what they know. It’s likely that staffing agencies will be involved in hiring for some part of the project. Check in with local government and the workforce resource that supports job seekers. They are likely to know something about plans and who to contact.
- Subcontractors May be Easier to Approach: Construction cleaning and basic labor services might be provided by smaller sub-contractors that could be easier initial targets for job development.
- Government-mandated Regulatory Compliance Opens Opportunity: If the project has any direct government involvement, there could be opportunities around diversity regulations or incentive packages that secured the location of the facility in your city.
- How to Work a Construction Project Job Fair. More so than in general job fairs, all of the employers will know each other and likely communicate frequently. They can help you identify other contacts at the fair and beyond. Come prepared with knowledge about the industry, construction terminology and your own agency success stories. Construction is still a male dominated industry and work culture, so consider which members of your team would fit best in that context.
- OSHA Certification is a Barrier and an Opportunity: Safety concerns are often a barrier to clients with limited English proficiency. Employers often fear that they will not be able to adequately train in OSHA standards or that danger signs or verbal warnings will go unheeded causing harm to employees. Consider how you can prepare clients with some basic information. OSHA certification training programs should be available for a reasonable fee. There are also on-line options. A staffing agency partner might be willing to provide access to training films, materials or even their in-house training.
- Interview Preparation is Always Important: You could develop a few hours of material to present to a group of candidates. Include information about the project, vocabulary, general safety awareness and any specifics about job opportunities you’ll be working toward. Even a quick informal meeting to go over basic concepts and vocabulary could give clients a competitive edge.
- Consider Customizing Resumes and Job Descriptions for Applications: If you have time to work with individual clients during the application process, adjusting job descriptions to fit what you’ve learned about the job can help. Be very cautious about exaggerating or falsifying information, although clients might be tempted to do that.
- Time Pressure Means Little Room for Performance Coaching. This type of project is time bound. During the construction phase, that means that there will be little time to coach employees through performance issues. You will need to identify and address any issues quickly.
- Ongoing Contact Can Net More Jobs and Long Term Relationships. Many of the contractors will move on to other contracts and they are definitely a tight knit industry. They talk to each other so can provide references and opportunities for future projects.