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Survive 'til 25? Why you'll want to look at your construction recruitment now instead

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Article posted by Daniel Scott on May 08, 2024

One of the adages we often heard in a hard year for construction in 2023 was that organisations were looking to ‘survive until 2025’. The bankruptcies of recognised industry names in the Construction space, including the recent administration of Osborne, are a stark reminder of the challenges the sector has seen in recent years.

But growth is apparent in some areas of construction once again. Confidence is increasing within Construction projects across certain sectors resulting in a 77% increase in mandates for Cobalt so far this year compared to last, and there is optimism that the second half of this year will see even further green shoots before 2025 even begins.

So, what does this mean for recruitment in this space? Having been a specialist recruitment agency to the Construction and Real Estate sectors since 2001, we’ve seen these cycles before, and the rush that ensues once organisations do begin hiring again. This is our insight into how to get ahead of the competition.

It’s a competitive market – how to get ahead

In the immediate aftermath of Covid-19 hitting, hesitation over projects created a vacuum of jobs meaning that employers were in control of hiring with ample candidates to choose from. Fast forward to late 2021 and 2022 and the candidate was king, with the sector almost making up for lost time and employers rushing to get staff in, often paying above the market rate to do so.

In 2023 and now in 2024, this has generally balanced out. With uncertainty in some areas, but clear progression in others, there are high levels of inconsistency in the Construction market. For example, we are seeing huge demand for Commercial Building Surveyors, but the opposite for Project Managers. This inconsistency has created a false understanding of the market landscape with many clients believing they can secure a new hire easily and cheaply, and candidates expecting high demand and in-turn increased salaries.

As confidence in Construction increases, and recruitment becomes more of a priority, firms will need to move quickly and utilise an appropriate recruitment strategy for their vacancies. Failure to do so will impede their ability to recruit the best talent, will likely result in internal conflicts about spend, and see increased above-budget offers become the reality as the market becomes more competitive.

Specialist construction recruitment takes time

A lot of organisations have their own internal HR and Talent Acquisition teams in charge of the recruitment of all staff at their organisation, whatever department or seniority. Indeed, Cobalt works alongside many in the recruitment of professionals across the built environment from feasibility to finance, through to project delivery and the management of assets across the real estate spectrum.

Increasingly in the Construction space, I’m getting more and more Talent Leads come to me and bemoan that they can’t find the talent they’re looking for from posting on job boards and LinkedIn, often searching for months on end and still not finding the right person for their roles. Whilst being briefed to cut external agency spend and source directly, many internal teams are short-staffed, have too many requisitions to handle, and cannot implement any type of specific recruitment strategy for the hires that are vital to the development of their organisations. This is most common especially when recruiting for roles in Building Surveying at the moment.

Furthermore, when you consider the opportunity cost of not being able to hire at the appropriate time for a project start, the knock-on effect is felt throughout a business. Every week there is not someone in post, it is another week that an element of a project can’t be started, or another week of your existing team being overworked with increased risk of attrition.

You add all these factors along with the average notice period of 6 months (especially for senior roles in the space), and the importance of a specialised, planned-out approach to recruitment proves overwhelmingly beneficial to those organisations that do it. Reducing external agency spend can prove a quick fix in tough economic times, but when an organisation can’t hire a recruit of appropriate quality in the timeframe that suits them, it has a much greater detrimental effect on the business.

How working with a construction recruitment specialist can help

With increased confidence in the market going into the second half of 2024 and 2025, we anticipate more opportunities appearing and an ultra-competitive war for the best talent in the sector to ensue – it’s what happens every time the sector recovers from a fall.

Even if you don’t have the immediate need right now, but are aware of projects on the horizon, speak to us to get an idea of the market trends, salaries, and potential candidate pool you can access in development, consultancies or contractors. We can then work with you and showcase typical salaries for the roles, create a market map of potential candidates, and make sure that your job description and company is being sold to these top candidates in the best possible way - before your competitors do first.

We have a database of over 10,000 candidates, an unrivalled network across LinkedIn, and access to the sector’s leading specialist job boards, as well as a track record of thousands of placements with hundreds of construction and development firms including Tier 1/2 Contractors, Developers, Estates and Building & Project Consultants.

Contact me below now to discuss your current hiring requirements and those that are in development, and beat your competition to the best talent available in the sector.


Dan Scott, Associate Director, Construction and Development

Email: DScott@cobaltrecruitment.com

Phone: +44 (0)20 7478 2524