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Hiring for Construction – Advice from Joe Gibbs

There’s plenty of news about the massive shortage of workers in the trades right now. Whether you’re the owner of a small business looking for 1 or 2 guys for your crew or the hiring manager for a major construction firm, trying to fill construction jobs is tough.

I realize beggars can’t be choosers in this market, but sometimes you have your pick of several guys or gals. Other times you need to decide who to promote up the ladder. Business consultants tell you to have solid policies in place to help you evaluate your choices. Years ago, I had the opportunity to have dinner with Super Bowl-winning coach and racing team owner, Joe Gibbs. I asked him what he considers the number 1 quality he looks for in a player or driver.

We can apply his response to any business, including when we’re looking to fill construction jobs.

When Hiring for Construction Jobs, Focus on the Whole Person

Before you look to hire someone, recognize that you’re hiring the whole person. They have a personality, a family, a set of values, and more. While Coach Gibbs gives us some excellent traits to look for, you can’t define something as complex as a human being with just a few characteristics.

With that said, we still managed to come away with three key things to carefully look into. We can apply these when hiring to fill positions in construction.

1. Character Matters

Someone who comes to work for you has to have a high level of character. You need to be able to trust that he or she will show up on time. They also need to stay out of trouble off the field (or jobsite). Overall, you want to know that you’ll get his or her best effort.

You get a huge bonus when hiring an employee with high character. The mistakes he or she makes (and everyone will) aren’t because of laziness or malicious intent. These are the kind of people that you can coach through the mistakes to make a better employee on the back end.

2. Look for Mental and Physical Toughness

Not everyone you hire is going to have their best day every day. They’re not going to have an average day every day, either. But what happens when they’re having a bad day?

When hiring for the purpose of filling a construction job, you want employees who can push through those obstacles. Regardless of how they feel on a particular day, they still need to produce work in line with your company’s standards. The work rate might be a little slower on those days, but you won’t have to send that type of person home and lose productivity completely.

How to Fill Construction Jobs

One potential downside is that these employees are often so motivated that you may need to help them know when not to work. For example, sickness and overdoing it for whatever reason on the job. If they’re fighting off a cold or something that could create a potential safety issue, put them on light duty or send them home.

3. Prioritize Intelligence – In All Its Forms

When you hire and fill construction jobs with veterans, the quality and rate of the work are usually solid. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a chance on someone that still very green, though. If he or she has a high level of intelligence, you’ll be hiring a fast learner that will become a seamless part of your crew quicker than most.

Intelligence comes in many forms. Be sure to give your new employees the opportunity to listen, watch, and try different aspects of the job before you commit to keeping them. Some workers learn best by hearing how to do something, others by watching someone do it, and still others by trying it themselves. All in all, there are 9 types of intelligence, though not all find their best fit on the jobsite.

Final Thoughts on Hiring for Construction Jobs

What do you think? When hiring for jobs in construction, do you hire based on character, fortitude, and intelligence? If not, what qualities do you prioritize more highly? Add your thoughts below and let’s help each other do our best to draw the best possible candidates from the labor pool.

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