As we said last week, most construction companies begin as closely held or family concerns. Gritty hard work leads to success. Jobs get bigger and more complex as the family digs in. Eventually, they reach out beyond the founders to a circle of experienced acquaintances to fill out the newly minted positions that the growth of the business requires. We referred to this as organic growth. No one plans it. No HR department has a hand in it. The founders just go about their business and hire new team members as they go along.


As the company continues to grow the natural processes of attrition and expansion push personnel needs beyond the reach of organic growth. This is a decisive moment in the evolution of a closely held contracting company. Will it slip over its own growth by expanding beyond its management capacity or will it adopt a more professional recruiting program to ensure the management capacity that will take it to the next level?

Let’s Ask the Coaches Again

There may be some debate as to who was the greatest coach recruiting for college football, but no analyst would argue that Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, and Pete Carroll belong on the top-ten list. Saban’s run recruiting for Alabama was perhaps the longest, but Urban Meyer is considered by most analysts as the best at face-to-face in a recruit’s living room. (Many star high-school players over the years who would have played for Alabama or Notre Dame ended up at Ohio State because of Urban Meyer’s personality). Pete Carroll has no peer when it comes to putting together complete teams from the ground up for USC.

The Coaches Say

How did the three legendary coaches above pull off recruiting magic? What was their secret? From years of interviews and books they authored, we have compiled a list of the keys to successful recruiting that these legendary coaches employed and that contractors might emulate.

  1. There is not enough money in the world to overcome a bad reputation. Tend to your team’s reputation long before you investigate the recruit’s.
  2. Focus more on what you can do for the recruit than what he/she can do for you.
  3. Integrity trumps benefits.
  4. You can’t install greatness in a man or woman who lacks it. But you can erase weakness.
  5. Don’t show me how great you are. Show me how hard you’ll work.
  6. Ability is what a recruit can do. Attitude determines how well he/she will do it.
  7. For the want of a nail, a shoe was lost. For the want of a shoe, a horse was lost. For the want of a horse, a battle was lost. For the want of a battle, a war was lost. Focus on the details of each position and the team will come together automatically. 
  8. Each recruit is part of a team. Build teams, not egos.
  9. Specialize – specialize – specialize.
  10. Don’t recruit from need. Recruit from abundance.

Construction Recruiting and Team Building

Senior management positions VPs, estimators, architects, engineers, accountants, project managers, superintendents, and foremen make up the typical construction company’s team. Each of these positions represents special skills necessary for the successful construction company. Many promising employees can be promoted from within but, as the company grows, experienced skills usually need to be recruited from the marketplace. Applying the above coaches’ recruiting principles to the construction industry will turn traditional last-minute recruiting into thoughtful team building.

  • The ability to recruit the best person for the job begins with cultivating your company’s reputation for integrity when dealing with personnel, and quality when executing construction projects. It’s much easier to recruit an excellent candidate who is “eager” to be a member of your winning team.
  • Sincere focus on how the candidate will benefit from joining your team makes the opportunity you offer much more attractive.
  • If a candidate trusts you, he/she will reject higher offers from potential bosses he/she doesn’t trust.
  • When candidates demonstrate similar skill sets, hire the hardest worker.
  • Be sure to recruit for the specific skill set your team will lack when you grow to the next level.
  • Put together a winning team by hiring team players first and all-stars second.
  • Pay the candidate you want whatever they want. It will always cost you less in the long run.

Next Week

Next week we’ll discuss training a winning team. Don’t miss it.

For more information on recruiting, read more at: RECRUITING

For a broader view on labor, read more here: LABOR

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Please circulate this widely. It will benefit your constituents. This research is continuous and includes new information weekly as it becomes available. Thank you.