Some 40% of construction, property and engineering firms expect to see a rise in activity in the next year (Markit/CIPS construction purchasing managers' index). 

That means companies must plan earlier if they don’t want to lose scarce talent to rivals. 

Candidates tend to move only for the juiciest projects or best cultural fit. The peculiarity in this line of work is that it can be chicken-and-egg – firms rightly don’t want to hire until the project has been rubber stamped. But with average on-boarding times at around the two- to three-month mark, waiting until a project is 100% can mean they've lost valuable search time.

Keep candidates 'warm'

Randstad’s own research reveals that since the economic crash, the average interview process has lengthened by a quarter, with average positions taking five weeks and six days to fill. Candidates feel valued when you can tell them about roles that will be coming up, and which they are earmarked for. And it enables them to plan accordingly.

Build around your core team

Keeping a pool of employees you can rely on is key, permanent staff need to be in place for all core roles. If you are going to see longevity and stability, permanent employees are essential. Temporary staffing can be then used for seasonal peaks and project-specific work. Placing people into core roles on a temporary assignment can be risky to the business, as their loyalty to the client can be minimal.

Target the right candidates for you

Planning early doesn’t just avoid last-minute scrambles to find scarce talent. It also gives time to source and evaluate those who want to move for the right reasons.

There are generally three types of people in these sectors; those who are always looking and putting their CVs out, the 'give me a call if you hear something' types, and then there are those you have to target directly. It’s important firms differentiate candidates and avoid interviewing the 'we want out' cadre – these are less likely to be people who will stay and grow your business. Target people carefully and candidates will be receptive to that warmer communication.

careful planning can help avoid upsetting your own supplier chain

Avoid supplier conflicts

In construction and engineering, where it’s normal for organisations to sub-contract part of their appointed work to a roster of preferred suppliers, careful planning can help avoid upsetting your own supplier chain. 

"Recruiting from a supply chain can have benefits if done in an open and honest manner. It can help relationships between supply chain partners to develop and, with communication, you could see great benefits from the understanding and trust you establish along the way," says Randstad CPE's Robert Beecham.

Give yourself choice

Such is the competitiveness of the sector, you need to plan to ensure you see enough good people capable of filling niche positions. 

Organisations need to remember that it's highly likely good candidates will weigh up other job offers. The rule of thumb is getting three people in for interview – three who could actually do the job. To get this number, you need at least six to select from. 

That's why recruiters should do as much preparation as possible to understand what motivates people.