This article is part of a larger series on Hiring.
As with many professionals, hiring a construction worker comes with its own set of unique challenges. Construction workers must adhere to numerous safety regulations, so understanding a candidate’s background and experience is vital. To hire construction workers effectively, you’ll need to implement a solid recruiting and vetting process to take you from writing your job description to posting your job, reviewing and interviewing candidates, running background checks, and making your offer. But first, you should determine the type of worker you need—i.e., general laborer vs brick mason vs construction inspector.
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1. Determine the Type of Construction Worker You Need
Construction workers do various types of jobs in numerous industries. Although general construction workers are capable of doing many different types of construction work, most workers specialize in one or a few areas. The most common construction jobs include:
- General construction worker
- Iron worker
- Construction inspector
- Flooring installer
- Tile setter
- Brick mason
- Crane operator
- Safety manager
Each of these construction jobs will require a different employee with a different set of skills. That’s why it’s crucial that you have a complete understanding of what you need a person to do before you create your job description. Once you know the type of construction work you need done, writing your job description will be much faster and easier.
When deciding on the type of employee to hire, you have options—full-time, part-time, seasonal, and even independent contractors. We recommend against looking for independent contractors as construction workers because of workers’ compensation concerns. Some states explicitly forbid independent contractors from working in the construction industry for just this reason.
Many companies find that partnering with a staffing agency or temporary placement agency works better than hiring employees. These companies have construction workers at the ready to do whatever job you need. The best part is that you pay the other company an hourly rate, and they handle payroll, overhead, and benefits for the employee. Especially if your small business has smaller construction projects or if you do not need a construction worker full time, this might be a great option.
Just make sure these companies have proper insurance and workers’ compensation coverage. Any reputable organization will gladly send you a copy of the Certificate of Insurance (COI).
2. Write the Job Description & Determine Pay
When writing your job description, include the skills you need a person to hold and some general tasks the employee will need to perform. You should also include a few sentences about your company. In today’s job market, especially in a growing area like construction, you need to sell a future employee on your company.
- What makes working for your company different from your competitors?
- What benefits do you offer?
- What safety equipment and training do you provide?
- What’s your company culture like?
- What advancement opportunities exist?
During this process, you also need to determine salary for the job. Depending on the type of worker you need, their skills, education, and your location, the salary may vary greatly. The average salary for a general construction worker is just under $40,000. But if you need someone with unique skills or many years of experience, expect to pay much more.
Tip: If your business is hiring a construction worker in certain states, you may need to put your target salary range in your public job posting. Check your state laws to see if you need to comply. Verify whether asking about a candidate’s past salary is allowed in your state as well.
3. Post Job Ad & Review Applicants
Your job description is going to be the ad that attracts applicants. Knowing where to find construction workers is the next hurdle. There isn’t a single place to look, and that’s what makes ZipRecruiter a great platform to post a job ad. You can post to multiple job boards at once and begin receiving applicants the same day.
The more junior your construction job and the fewer skills you require, the more likely you are to receive lots of candidates. The more senior the job, the fewer candidates you’ll probably get. In either case, you want to be able to screen candidates quickly and efficiently. That’s why we recommend creating a list of half a dozen or so must-have skills the employee needs to be successful in the job.
No candidate will match perfectly with all of your job requirements. By comparing their experience to your must-have list, you can quickly sort through the applicants and eliminate the most unqualified. This leaves you with a manageable list of the most qualified candidates to interview.
4. Conduct Interviews
One of the most important steps in hiring exceptional employees is the interview process. When narrowing down your list of the most qualified candidates, try to keep it to less than a dozen. This will make your final selection process more straightforward.
When interviewing construction workers, it’s important to ask them hypothetical questions. Safety is crucial in any construction job and making sure they understand basic safety protocols, beyond the required skills, is key. Here are some sample questions to ask each candidate:
- How do you ensure your safety and those around you?
- Describe your current work duties and how those responsibilities align with our job.
- What’s the most difficult piece of equipment you’ve used and how did you overcome those challenges?
- Have you ever had to respond to an emergency situation at a construction site?
- How do you handle conflict with a supervisor or colleague?
- How quickly can you learn and adapt to new safety protocols and procedures?
- What do you do when you see a colleague failing to adhere to safety practices?
- Why did you apply for a position with our company?
It’s also important to ask similar questions of each applicant. That’s the best way to grade each interview on equal footing. When you take this structured interview approach, not only do you avoid illegal interview questions but you will naturally eliminate unqualified candidates. Most likely, you’ll have one or two standout candidates that you will want to move through to the next stage.
Need a little more help with interviewing? Check out our step-by-step guide on how to conduct a job interview.
5. Call References & Run a Background Check
Hiring construction workers requires diligence to ensure you’re hiring someone who is skilled to handle the duties of the job and understands why safety is important. You can gain a better understanding of a candidate’s level of skill and adherence to safety protocols by contacting their references.
When you’ve narrowed your list of candidates to one or two, call their references and speak with prior supervisors. An applicant’s supervisor is in an excellent position to give you honest feedback on the person’s qualifications and whether they could do the work you need them to do.
Ask questions like:
- Did the applicant ever breach safety protocols?
- Was the person dependable and able to get their work done?
- Did they have any conflicts with you or colleagues?
- What were their daily duties?
- Were they self-motivated or did you have to constantly check in?
You may also want to run a background check. While this step is not necessary for every job, construction workers may handle or be around heavy machinery, putting other people’s lives in their hands. A background check will ensure you’re hiring someone with adequate skills and certifications.
Compliance Tip: Check your state laws. Some states require that companies run background checks after a job offer has been accepted.
6. Make an Offer
After you have completed the steps above, you will naturally narrow down your choices to the final candidate. It’s now time to make an offer. We recommend calling the candidate first to discuss any final details with them and gauge their level of excitement. After all details have been finalized, put all the information in a formal offer letter and send it to the candidate to review and sign.
When you draft the offer letter, be sure to include:
- Job title
- Start date
Also include the full job description. Having the new hire sign off on their ability to handle each task of the job is crucial to holding them accountable if they fail to meet your expectations.
When the letter is complete, you can send it to the candidate electronically using an online signature software. Give the candidate at least a few days to review and sign the offer. Once you have the signed offer letter back, it’s time to onboard your new construction worker.
Hiring a construction worker can seem daunting. You can make the right hiring decision for your small business by breaking down the process into digestible steps. With the help of ZipRecruiter, you can post a job in minutes and expand your reach to 100+ job boards.