My name is Joe Kenny and I look after the Temporary Construction Division in Servisource Recruitment. What follows is a guide on how to get a job in construction from the perspective of a recruiter.
Time and again I watch candidates sabotage themselves by making the same handful of mistakes which can easily be avoided with a little effort, organisation and raising of personal standards.
What to do
To start with, get the basics right: to work on a construction site you must have:-
- Valid Safe Pass
- Valid Manual Handling
- PPE Gear – Safety boots, Hi Viz vest, Hard Hat, appropriate clothing (not t-shirt and shorts!)
- Relevant CSCS card if you are working as a Machine Driver, Banksman, Crane Driver, Scaffolder etc.
Keep all of the above in a safe place. Just because you have a valid safe pass and manual handling cert does not mean you will be allowed on site. If you cannot provide proof that you have completed those two certs, it is as good as not having the two certs.
If you lost them, left them in your ex-girlfriend’s house who you no longer speak to, the dog ate them, you will not get a job in construction without being able to provide physical or digital copies of those 2 documents.
- Take 30 photocopies of your Safe Pass and Manual Handling cert and keep them in a safe place.
- Take photos of your Safe Pass and Manual Handling and save them to your phone gallery so you can send them on to recruiters easily and prove that you are compliant whenever you need to.
- Email the photos of the certs to yourself so that if you ever lose your phone, you still have copies of them within your email sent items.
- Keep a record of when your certs expire. Even if your safe pass expired only last month, you are now not legally allowed to work on a construction site. Renew your certs before they expire and you will never be in a position where an outdated cert stops you from getting a job.
- Make a note of your local building supplies stores. If you lose any of your PPE gear, you know then where to go to replace it.
Sell yourself with an amazing Construction CV
Candidates that do not send in a CV are at a distinct disadvantage to those that do. A CV is your opportunity to sell yourself, to list what work experience you have, what skills and attributes you can bring to a role and where you can put references from previous employment.
It also demonstrates that you want the job enough to make the effort to write it up. Take the time to write up a CV, save an electronic copy of it in your emails, so that you will always have your CV to hand should you need to apply for a role.
Applying for a construction job
Be specific and clear in your application. Perhaps write a brief paragraph on what job it is you are applying for or what type of work you are looking for and in what area of the country.
Do not simply send a blank email with your CV attached to a recruitment agency. Recruitment agencies receive hundreds if not thousands of applications per week and may deal with a variety of industries. If a recruiter cannot see clearly which job or which type of job you have applied to and where, they have to then get in touch with you to try and decipher which job you applied for and quite frankly, most recruiters do not have the time to do this chasing up.
Follow up on a construction job:
Call or email the recruitment agency or ideally the recruiter that looks after the type of roles you are interested in. Make sure they have your most up to date CV on file and your certs on file also.
There is no need to call daily, but so long as you are looking for a job, getting in touch once a week is a good idea to keep you fresh in the recruiter’s mind and shows them that you are genuine and enthusiastic. This goes a long way to building trust and increases the chances of you being offered a job.
Get fit and look after yourself
Working in construction is a physically demanding job. You may be on your feet for most of the day, lifting, carrying, using power tools, the list goes on.
In order to deal with the demands of the duties associated with working in construction I recommend trying to maintain good cardiovascular health, not smoking, eating a healthy diet and doing some form of regular physical exercise.
Make sure that you adhere to all the health and safety guidelines on site, and that if working throughout the summer months, you use sun protection to avoid the risk of contracting skin cancer.
What NOT To Do:
If you really want to lose the confidence of a recruitment agency or contractor and minimize your chance of securing further work, follow these simple steps:
- Promise the world and then don’t show up and don’t give notice as to why you haven’t shown up. Don’t get me wrong, things happen. You may be sick, your child may get ill unexpectedly and you have to look after them, your car breaks down, there is a death in the family. If you are due to start work and cannot due to circumstances beyond your control, a simple phone call, email, text message or all three to your employer before you are due to start work is just common courtesy and allows the employer to either try and find a replacement or plan around your absence. Not getting in touch ruins any trust that there was previously and decreases your chances of being hired again.
- Walk off site randomly without giving the site manager or your supervisor notice – this is relatively uncommon but still happens. If you are employed to work on a construction site, unless you are on lunch or on a break, you are not permitted to leave site. Walking off site during working hours is fraud and will not be tolerated, you are being paid to work there not to be elsewhere.
- Find a quiet place on site and hide there scrolling through social media on your smart phone and hope you don’t get caught.
- Arrive late or leave early.
- Using drugs on site or arriving to work under the influence of drugs – absolutely unacceptable and a guarantee the contractor and recruiter will never hire you again.
Make yourself stand out
There are thousands of people with a safe pass and manual handling cert. You can sit each course which will last between half a day and a day and obtain both for a total of around €150.
These certs make you compliant to work on a construction site but they don’t make you stand out from the rest of the applicants.
If you want to work in construction and you want to maximise your chances of securing long term work, you have to pay attention to how valuable you are to the contractor or recruitment agency when working for them.
If you are the type that always arrives early, never forgets your PPE gear, doesn’t sit around on their mobile phone, puts an honest day’s work in, is eager to learn … chances are you will be kept on or hired again.
This is how you build up trust, confidence and your own reputation. I will often put forward candidates that I have hired before who we have received positive feedback from our clients on past jobs.
Another important one is before you finish any job, make sure to get the contact details of your supervisor or site manager and ask them if you can use them as a reference when applying for future jobs. If you have worked hard for them, usually they are happy to do this for you. This gives you added leverage when applying for jobs as now you can provide some proof to back up the content of your CV.
I hope you have found the above points helpful, and if you are looking for work in the construction industry, please send your CV and certs to [email protected] and we will do our best to find you a job.
Article Written By:
Joe Kenny | Business Development Consultant: Construction & Warehousing
Email: [email protected]
DD: +353 (0) 42 936 8310 | Tel: +353 (0) 42 93 52723