Published - 22nd August 2023
There’s a tendency to presume that marketing should be treated as part of a sales function: after all, the two are often grouped together under the same department or departmental lead. And it’s true that marketing is a powerful part of sales, or business development: we often talk in terms of marketing as a breadcrumb-trail that ultimately leads to a potential customer choosing to purchase or specify a product or service.
But marketing has a wider function than that, and when used to its fullest potential, it can become a powerful tool for business growth. Marketing can help to solve one of the most persistent problems facing construction companies in the UK today: recruitment.
The talent pool of candidates for construction companies in the UK is frustratingly small, and the difficulty of recruiting and retaining high-quality people is often cited as one of the key challenges facing the industry today. In fact, just this year, five construction trades were added to the government’s shortage occupation list, making it easier for firms to hire overseas workers in these areas.
While measure like these, plus technological advances and modern methods of construction, can help to alleviate the burden on recruitment, it seems unlikely that this problem will vanish overnight. With a small group of likely candidates to appeal to, and dozens of opportunities available to each candidate, companies need to stand out from the rest in terms of their offering. And the right marketing can help to achieve this.
In the digital era, it is easier than ever for potential new colleagues to do their homework when applying for a role, so it is essential that your company puts its best foot forward every day – not just when there’s a recruitment drive.
While sites like Glassdoor.co.uk are increasingly popular for people wanting to gain some insight into the real company culture, for most people, your website and social media channels will be their first stop when it comes to checking out a potential new employer.
For many companies, it is tempting to see your digital presence primarily as a sales or lead generation tool, but with the right digital strategy in place it’s a simple matter to sprinkle in a mix of content that would appeal to potential candidates as well as customers: and the two messages often support each other as well.
Ensuring your website is fully optimised for search is essential: it will immediately impact your credibility as an employer if your site is difficult to find, or doesn’t contain any information about your team or your culture.
We recommend ensuring that you have a ‘careers’ or ‘about us’ section on your website so that people who want to find out more about you as an employer can easily navigate to the right section. You should also dedicate space to your company’s mission statement and values as well, as this is often the information that potential new employees are looking for. Plus, potential customers will benefit from this too – businesses want to work with partners whose values align with their own.
Similarly, you should mix in some people-centric messaging in your social media feed, even if it is just once a month. Our social media specialists tell our clients that posts featuring people or behind-the-scenes glimpses routinely outperform others: people like to see people!
Luckily, it’s relatively simple to give people an insight into the character of your company on social media. Perhaps you get a pizza van to your premises on a Friday to give everyone a treat at the end of the week – so why not take some photos and share them? Or perhaps you’ve refurbished your break room, or are running a charity challenge that your team can get behind?
All of this provides potential new employees with an insight into how your company really treats its staff, and can give you an edge in the competitive construction recruitment market.
The actions above rely on a slow-burn of activity. But it’s also important to be proactive in your recruitment – whether that’s with eye-catching advertising or linking up with local colleges.
One of our clients, Novus Property Solutions, is taking an innovative approach to recruitment: a leading maintenance, compliance and decarbonisation contractor, they are frequently on the lookout for talented new team-members, from painters and decorators, to quantity surveyors.
Novus’ resourcing manager, Hayley Degg, told us: “One of our challenges is not only building our workforce, but creating a more diverse workforce and finding colleagues who want to build their career with us long-term. We’ve put in place several initiatives to help with this – and while advertising on platforms like Indeed is still a huge driver for us, we are starting to see a shift in how and where we are drawing in candidates.
“One area we have put some focus onto recently is partnerships: we work with Women Into Construction, which helps us to link with female tradespeople, as one of our key objectives is to increase the proportion of women in all roles at the company. To support this, we have also shone a light on our Women In Novus network through our internal and external marketing, to showcase all the great work Novus has done to make the company more female-friendly. The work is paying off as the business have reduced their gender pay gap in each of the last three years, and are ahead of the industry average.
“Similarly, we participated in this year’s Open Doors initiative, which is designed to give an insight into what working within construction is really like. We opened our Manchester sites to local school and college students, and it was truly eye-opening to see how many people didn’t understand the industry! We are trying to educate candidates that construction isn’t just about trade roles – what we call the bias of hard hats and boots – and that there are options for impressive career progression to management level roles for everyone. Schemes like Open Doors and careers or school fairs allow us to explain opportunities and potentially draw people into the sector.”
But Novus is harnessing the power of marketing in a way that many may not have considered, investing in a longer-term strategy of outreach and awareness that allows the company to tap into a wider talent pool as and when a role becomes available.
Hayley explained: “Several months ago, we started building a database of what we refer to as ‘passive candidates’ that we would communicate with, directly and indirectly, to ensure that we had a large group of people who may want to work with Novus in the future. Perhaps we don’t have a role for them right now, or they’re not looking for a change at this time – but we realised that there is value in keeping in contact so that we effectively have a handful of people on our database that we can reach out to when the right role does become available.
“Clearly, this is a long-term investment: we can have people on the database for months before we are recruiting for a role that would suit them. During that time, we send them tailored e-marketing about what the company is up to, and encourage them to follow our social media channels, so that when a role does come up that we want to dip into this pool to fill, they already feel like part of the Novus team.”
If you want to talk about how construction marketing can support your recruitment drive, contact us today to help get your strategy on track.