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From contractors to engineering giants, many businesses in the construction sector are feeling the squeeze as a result of rising material and labour costs. Some are even making redundancies as they anticipate cash flow issues or reduced demand ahead.

If you have already been made redundant, believe you may need to find a new job soon or are worried about your career progression then the good news is that the long term planning and delivery timescales which are fundamental to our industry mean there are still opportunities out there for those who set about their search in the right way. 

Here are our top tips for finding a role in a job market that is somewhat slower than it was a year ago.

Start looking early – the good news is that hiring managers across the construction sector are, for the moment, complaining of a shortage of good procurement and commercial candidates. However, with fewer roles available than a year ago there is more competition and the earlier you start your job hunt, the more selective you can afford to be about which opportunities to pursue and the less pressure you are likely to feel at interview.

Be targeted - don’t panic apply! – this is probably the most important point in this blog. Faced with the prospect of being jobless or with dwindling cash reserves it can be tempting to start applying for any vaguely suitable role advertised. DON’T. A bulk-application approach to job hunting will generally actually reduce your chances of getting a job so take a quality over quantity approach. Here’s why:

Most candidates who go on an application blitz don’t make the effort to tailor their CV and covering letter for each opportunity. Applications tailored to a specific job are far more likely to be shortlisted by the recruiter or hiring manager as they generally fit the job description more obviously and better than a generic CV used to apply for multiple roles. 

The second issue with bulk applications is that the more recruiters/ employers you are involved with, the lower their chances of being the person who places you and so the less interesting you will be to each of them. 

The most successful approach for the majority of candidates is to select between one and three recruitment companies that specialise in relevant roles and then run your job hunt exclusively through them. Choose wisely and the company/ies you choose will cover a significant proportion of roles on the market and the recruiter(s) will work proactively on your behalf.

Focus on your responsibilities AND achievements – on your CV further to listing your responsibilities you should articulate the impact you made in each role i.e. your achievements. At interview you will be expected to explain how you approached various challenges, why you chose your approach, the impact you made and any lessons you learned. 

Redundancy – if you are made redundant then make sure you understand your rights and responsibilities. There are plenty of useful resources available, for example: but don’t forget to review the detail of your contract, the redundancy process and any settlement agreement your employer offers. For example, some settlement agreements may be dependent on you not having an alternative offer of employment at that time or may try to preclude you from working for certain other employers for a period after you leave. Get it right and you may get paid twice! Get it wrong and it is easy to end up with a headache. 

Don’t apply if you don’t have the skills – while there may be a shortage of candidates in many of the construction related industries it is important to be realistic when applying for roles. Recruiters are not going to risk their relationships with their clients by putting forward overly-optimistic candidates and one speculative application can taint perceptions of a candidate with that recruitment company. 

If there is a role you are particularly interested in and your application would have some merit without being an ideal fit, then call the recruiter directly to discuss your potential.

Be patient and stay positive – it is important to be realistic about how long it takes to find a new job, the number of unsuccessful applications you are likely to make before you get an offer and how much time you are likely to need to invest in your job hunt. 

Even at the best of times it takes anywhere from a few weeks to six months to find a new role according to different surveys. Many applications will get no feedback, some may not even be acknowledged. There will be gaps between being shortlisted and interviews, between first and second rounds etc. 

And the process is likely to involve plenty of rejection. After all, for each candidate hired there will likely be a further five candidates who were interviewed but unsuccessful, and potentially dozens more who applied and didn’t even get an interview. Working with a recruitment company can help you get feedback on your applications and give you the confidence not to panic apply.

To keep your confidence high, keep a note of your greatest career achievements and your testimonials. To keep a sense of control over the job hunt make sure you keep a note of each job you apply for, when you applied, how you applied and the date of the next stage. 

Don’t limit your options unnecessarily  with the market tighter than it was 12 months ago, the less prescriptive you are in your search the more likely you are to find something. Similarly, think hard before turning down a role because in the hope that an alternative role may materialise. 

If you would like further details about any of the trends or would like to speak with us about how we can support you then please email me: or call 0330 174 6801.

This year we will be publishing four Salary Surveys and two Industry Moves Trends reports analysing remuneration for procurement and supply chain roles across the construction related industries. 

While the Salary Surveys can be used on their own as a tool to benchmark salaries and improve retention, when that information is combined with our new Industry Moves Trends report, companies have a valuable tool to help them understand the cost of hiring new talent. 

The publication schedule for these reports is:

About our Salary Surveys – an excellent retention tool

Our salary surveys are conducted online and are open to any UK employee currently working in the UK in the relevant industry, i.e. for this Construction, Infrastructure, FM & ME Contractors report we had 196 respondents all working for Construction, Infrastructure, FM & ME Contractors in the UK.

Each of the salary surveys will be divided into five sections: Basic Salary, Car & Car Allowance, Performance Bonus, Other Benefits, and Future Plans. The basic salary figures are broken down into lower quartile, median and upper quartile salaries by job title for the specific sector of the industry covered.

Employers will find the survey an exceptionally useful tool when working out how much they need to pay staff to retain them in a market where there is a shortage of talent.

About our Industry Move Trends Report – understand your hiring costs

The purpose of the Industry Move Trends Report is to understand how much a prospective employer is likely to have to offer above an employee’s existing basic salary in order to persuade them to make a move. We do this by analysing placements we have made in recent months. The report is divided into two sections looking at our:

NB - All placements detailed in this report are from permanently employed candidates moving from one industry competitor to another between July 2022 and December 2022. 

A summary analysis of the results from the Q1 Salary Survey and Industry Moves Trends reports

As hiring managers across the country will tell you, there remains a shortage of qualified, experienced procurement and supply chain candidates in the UK construction related industries and this is driving up salaries across the board. 

According to the Q1 salary survey covering construction, infrastructure and FM & M&E contractors, 66% or respondents had received a pay rise in the last 12 months. Depending on the role that rise was typically between 5% and 7%. 

While these rises may seem significant and be applying pressure to company wage bills, they are nonetheless falling short of inflation.  They are also very modest compared with the rises we have seen achieved by procurement and supply chain managers in the construction industries who have moved role in the last six months. The average rise in basic (calculated using the last five procurement, supply chain, category managers we placed with new employers) was a massive 21% compared with their previous role. For the last ten buyers, senior buyers, category buyers we placed that figure was 17%. 

We expect wage inflation to be more modest in the year ahead, however companies will continue to find back filling roles with like-for-like candidates an expensive exercise. As such, employers who want to manage their wage bills should focus on three things:

If you would like to review a copy of our latest Insights email, then please email me: or call 07795 148 182.

If you would like to sign up to receive future reports, then you can join our Insights mailing list here:

While the spectre of COVID-19 still lingers, UK businesses have settled into a “new normal” and, as was the case pre-2020, there is an expectation from the overwhelming majority of employers in the construction industries that candidates will interview in person either throughout or at some point during the hiring process.

Comments from employers in recent months suggest that some less experienced candidates feel ill at ease interviewing in person compared with via Teams while even some experienced candidates are a touch rusty as a result of reduced face-to-face contact over the last couple of years. So here are our “five ‘P’s and two ‘Q’s of face-to-face interviewing” to help you show the best of yourself and really understand whether you will be a good fit with the potential employer.  

Punctuality – there is more scope for being late when interviewing face-to-face compared with logging into a virtual interview room. Prepare your route, read any notes the recruiter or employer has given you and allow a margin of error considering the possibilities of road works, train strikes, peak traffic hours, parking restrictions, even finding the right office in an industrial estate of identical looking units... 

It sounds obvious but it is happening more often than you would imagine both to experienced candidates and those starting out in their careers. Arriving late not only looks bad but also typically results in the candidate starting the interview stressed and underperforming as a result. 

Practice  following two years of restricted face-to-face contact not only have some people unconsciously developed new mannerisms, behaviours and traits but many of us are simply not quite as at ease as we were in a formal setting such as an interview. Particularly if you have been working remotely a lot, then a dummy interview with a friend or recruiter can go a long way to helping candidates enter the interview room with confidence.

Presentation – first impressions count so don’t leave it to the morning of your interview to check your favoured outfit still fits and is clean. Stand tall on arrival and, being mindful of COVID, offer a firm handshake. During the interview sit up straight, keep your hands on your lap or on the desk without fidgeting and maintain eye contact with the interviewer(s). Feel free to take time to consider your answers before responding but make sure that you answer clearly, concisely and in a way that relates to the question. 

Preparation – investing time preparing for each interview makes a dramatic impact to the likelihood of getting an offer. Start by reviewing the job description, then read up about the company (browse their website and recent news articles). Next review your covering letter, CV and LinkedIn profile thinking how the skills, experience and responsibilities the company is looking for dovetail with your experience. Employers will expect you to talk about not only what you have done but also the impact you made personally. If you have gaps on your CV or discrepancies between your CV and LinkedIn profile then expect the interviewer to ask you about them.

Good recruiters (and we include ourselves in that category) will prepare every candidate for every interview often by video or telephone. Make sure you prepare for this call and challenge your recruiter’s knowledge about the role, company, attendees, and interview process - they should be able to offer more specific insights than you will glean from the company’s website or a generic job description… This call can also be a good opportunity to practice a dummy interview as mentioned above.

Priorities – while demonstrating that you are the most capable person for the role is the most important goal, be prepared to discuss your salary expectations, flexible working, career progression etc. should the interviewer ask you about your priorities. Remember it is called a “salary negotiation” for a reason and so consider trade-offs you would be happy to make and as well as your red lines. 

Questions from your interviewer(s)  further to the traditional questions interviewers have been asking for years, in recent months many have started asking questions relating to candidate perceptions of remote and flexible working as well as the issue of staff returning / not returning to offices. The interviewer may be looking to understand whether your vision dovetails with the company’s, or for ideas about how to manage these going forward as companies are often still finding their ways on such issues.

Questions for your interviewer(s) – interviewing is a two-way process and you should take the opportunity to ensure the company and role are the right fit for you as well as you being the right fit for them. While some of your list of questions will doubtless relate to your priorities (as discussed) above, you should also think of less transactional ones that will help you understand the company’s culture, corporate aspirations and vision, management style, current financial performance etc. If these issues come up naturally during the conversation or it feels inappropriate to ask them at the time then skip over them, however when candidates do not have any questions it can make them appear unprepared and generally less interested than they are in reality either making them less attractive to potential employers, or weakening their negotiating position.

We’ve created three candidate guides (“Starting your search”, “Managing your interview”, and “Managing your resignation”) to support you through your job hunt from start to finish. To download these guides please visit:

Since 2015, demand for skills across the construction sectors has exceeded the availability of qualified candidates and driven rampant salary inflation. Even comparing placements we made during the last six months with the previous six months, like for like basic salaries are up anywhere from 8% to 37% with an average of 18%. 

Unsurprisingly many candidates want to ensure that they realise their value while the market is hot and the game of musical chairs continues. For employers this undoubtedly provides a headache but here are some thoughts on how to approach the challenge. 

Make the decision to leave tough!

Employee value proposition has become a buzz phrase in HR circles in recent years, highlighting that companies have a range of tools beyond money to attract and retain staff. While financial remuneration is often a central factor in a candidate’s decision to stay or to move, it is not the only one. Job satisfaction, happiness at work and work-life balance also have significant impacts. 

Improved technologies and the remote working ‘experiment’ enforced by the pandemic have reimagined what is possible in terms of flexible working. As a result employees’ work-life balance hopes and expectations have also shifted. Many assign a significant premium to roles that are able to accommodate working patterns that dovetail around their lifestyles and other commitments. Listening to which aspects of flexible working really matter to each employee and prospective employee can make a huge difference both to attraction and retention.

While flexible working policies have changed significantly in recent years, most companies have long recognised the importance job satisfaction plays in retaining staff. Employers providing employees with a defined career path, clear performance metrics and support to assist their professional growth certainly experience less attrition than their competitors. However, a factor that many employers undervalue is the role that a forward-thinking social and environmental commitment can make. In the battle between conscience and wallet, ethics are in the ascendancy. 

Employees who are happy at work, are far less likely to move companies and while a strong company purpose and sense of job satisfaction contribute to this so do positive relationships and friendships with colleagues. A clearly defined and proactively nurtured company culture often make a tremendous impact to improving these social bonds. 

In short, the happier and more satisfied employees are at work, the greater the gap will need to be between what they are currently paid and what they are being offered for competitors to successfully attract staff away. However, salaries continue to change fast and so it is important to benchmark them annually if not every six months.

Counter-offer strategies

However good a company’s employee value proposition, some attrition is inevitable and losing a team member always causes a degree of disruption. While this may normally be an inconvenience, the amount of time spent recruiting and training up new staff as a result of the current volumes of resignations can cause genuine problems as can the loss of tacit knowledge. 

Counter-offers can be used to help spread out the resignations and so dilute the challenges that the great resignation may otherwise create. Successful counter-offering is an article in itself, however the key is to understand the full range of reasons why an employee wants to leave and to convince them that you will address those issues better than their other suitor(s). It can also be useful to highlight aspects of their current position that they enjoy but which the new role might not be able to match. 

Plan for their exit

Irrespective of whether or not a counter-offer is successfully made if the employee is important to the smooth and effective running of their team then plan for their exit. The need to do this even if they decide to stay is reflected in the fact that 90% of employees who accept a counter-offer leave within 12 months in any case. 

If the counter-offer was successful then consider how to minimise disruption should the employee decide to leave in the coming months. This will likely be a two pronged approach. The first element should be to encourage them to share their tacit knowledge and involve colleagues in their key relationships to maximise continuity should they later leave. The second element will be succession planning. For example, identifying and grooming internal candidates ready to step into the position and also scoping the market externally so that there is a longlist of candidates ready to approach should they resign again. 

If the company chooses not to try to keep the individual or the counter-offer is unsuccessful, then start to recruit their replacement immediately to minimise the period of disruption, condensing normal timeframes to reflect how critical their role is. Assuming that there isn’t an internal candidate suitable to step into their shoes, then consider dividing the role among other members of the team while the employee is still in place. Not only will this help to retain their tacit knowledge but by identifying which internal and external stakeholders are likely to be most affected by the individual leaving it may be possible to transition those relationships before the employee departs. 

If you would like further details about any of the trends or would like to speak with us about how we can support you then please email me: or call 07795 148 182.

The challenge of finding good staff has consistently been a ‘top three issue’ for pretty much every CEO in the construction sector for the last 20 years or more. Unsurprisingly management and HR teams are constantly wondering whether they can and should be recruiting better. But what does ‘better’ mean? How can recruitment success be evaluated? What are the pros and cons of different metrics? And given the shortcomings of recruitment evaluation is it even worth doing? (The answer is ‘yes’ and I will explain why at the end of this article)

What does ‘better recruitment’ mean?

‘Better recruitment’ will mean different things to different companies – some will want to reduce cost, others will want vacancies filled faster and others will want to attract ‘better’ candidates (an even more subjective concept). Whatever the company’s recruitment objectives, the first steps to improving performance are 1) to agree targets, 2) to determine metrics to enable you to measure against those targets, and then 3) to understand current levels of performance.

How is recruitment success measured?

Metrics used to measure recruitment success can generally be divided into three categories: cost, efficiency and quality. However, simply measuring one aspect of recruitment performance is likely to be counter-productive and companies will typically build a dashboard of metrics covering all three areas. 

Sadly, there is no one size fits all answer to measuring recruitment. Not only will the most appropriate metrics to use vary depending on the role, but what may constitute a good score or ratio for one role may be quite different to the next depending on seniority, function, location etc. 

In other words evaluating recruitment isn’t a science that should dictate recruitment strategy. Instead, a considered dashboard of metrics applied to the right roles and then analysed with judgement, typically delivers the best results.


Cost per hire’ is probably the easiest and most common way to evaluate recruitment. The metric can be as simple as simply identifying all financial costs (recruiter fees, advertising fees, applicant tracking software costs, psychometric testing costs, referral checks, vetting costs etc) and dividing that by the total number of hires for the same period. Most companies will also attribute a cost to the internal time spent on the recruitment process as well as adding in training and onboarding cost to get a more accurate figure of the true cost. 

At an organisational level, and especially for small to mid-size companies, cost per hire can feel like a blunt tool due to the number of variables involved and the likelihood of a single role distorting the wider picture. However, using ‘cost per hire’ in a more targeted manner can be very informative, for example calculating cost per hire for graduate intakes can be helpful as you will be comparing like for like, year on year and very often there will be specific costs attributable to the graduate intake programme such as university careers fairs. 

The most important aspects of using ‘cost per hire’ are consistently including/excluding the same costs, and then comparing like for like, for example counting, or not, contractors as hires.


There are various metrics that can be used to assess the efficiency of hiring processes. For example, ratios of ‘applications to interview’ (number of applications % number of interviews), ‘interviews to hire’ (number of candidates a hiring manager needs to interview to make a hire) and ‘offer to acceptance’ (percentage of candidates who accept a formal offer) all help build up a picture of how efficient and effective the recruitment process is. Typically, so long as the candidate quality at the end of the process is high the company should be looking to minimise the ‘offer to acceptance’ and ‘interviews to hire ratios’. Ideally the ‘applications to interview’ ratio should also be low, however it may be necessary to increase it if the quality of the candidates is low.

One interesting exercise is to identify where candidates drop out of the process. Starting with the ‘application drop-off rate’ (used to compare the number of candidates that complete the application form compared to the number who start the process) identify pinch-points in the process through to offer acceptance or even candidates starting to understand where candidates decide to leave the process.  

Counter intuitive as it might seem so long as the quality of the candidates making it to interview is high then a ‘high application drop-off rate’ is often good as less time is spent filtering applications to decide who to interview. As the process progresses however, the company should be aware of the number of candidates that it deems suitable who drop out of their own accord, for example because they have accepted an offer elsewhere, as this may indicate bottlenecks in the recruitment process. 

Time to hire’ is another useful ratio but again can be calculated in different ways. Most employers calculate it as days from the moment the job is advertised but the end date may be when an offer is made, accepted or the person starts. From the candidate’s perspective what matters is the time between submitting their application and the offer or start date. Either way the longer companies draw-out application and interview processes, the fewer strong candidates are likely to remain available by the end of the process resulting in lost talent, wasted time and, in all likelihood, a weaker applicant being appointed. 

Quality of hire 

Quality of hire is in many ways the Holy Grail for recruitment evaluation – most companies would happily swallow a 10% increase in recruitment costs if all their hires were as good as the top 25% of employees. But how can you measure quality? 

Even if a company successfully measures quality of hire, it is then hard to untangle what makes those hires stand out and replicate the success… a recruiter’s skills of persuasion? identification of a specific talent pool? the thought hiring managers put into their interviews? speed or professionalism of the hiring process? Specific training or experience the candidate had? The answer is likely to be an indecipherable combination of factors.

What is the point in evaluating recruitment success?

There is no magic bullet that will drive ‘better’ recruitment but by measuring what we perceive to be key steps through the recruitment process, companies are at least able to compare performance either historically or against expectations and to adjust, refine and replicate processes appropriately. Furthermore, using the right metrics will make sure that the hidden costs of recruitment don’t get forgotten or brushed over. 

In short evaluating recruitment success is crucial not only to having confidence in how well the function is performing but also to setting budgets and strategy. 

If you would like further details about any of the trends or would like to speak with us about how we can support you then please email me: or call 0330 174 6801.

With salary inflation rampant over the last twelve months and some roles proving very difficult to fill due to skills’ shortages, there’s been a noticeable increase in companies willing to consider relatively unproven candidates. It is an option that has positives as well as negatives and so long as employers recognise these before making the hire it can prove a very effective strategy.

The pros of experience

“Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM” is among the most famous marketing mantra of all time and hiring a candidate with a proven track record generally provides reassurance and confidence that they will be at least capable in the new role. 

Individuals who have already demonstrated their potential to operate at a certain level will normally be able to replicate past accomplishments when they move on and the confidence that comes with experience and their networks of contacts should provide a sound foundation for a relatively smooth transition. Because they are able to hit the ground running, they will likely need comparatively little supervision and management.  

However, the fact that these individuals can already demonstrate that they’re capable of performing the role raises the question “Why they are not striving for the next step on the ladder?”. There can be many good reasons, for example increasing numbers of candidates are prioritising work-life balance over maximising their career potential, but this too has implications for how they will perform if offered the job. 

The pros of raw potential

The most common and compelling reasons for hiring candidates yet to prove they can operate at the level the role requires are cost (they will almost always be cheaper) and availability (there are always more candidates willing to make an upwards move than a sideways or backwards one). However, those are not the only compelling reasons.  

Candidates without the preconceived ideas that come from experience are often more willing to learn and adapt than those who have already developed a proven approach. While sometimes it can lead to them reinventing the wheel, it can equally drive innovation. 

The fact that these candidates are looking to progress their careers is often an indication of their ambition. As a result, and because of the insecurity that comes with moving beyond their comfort-zone, it is common for them to consistently go the extra mile if they are appointed. 

Experience, potential and company culture

The decision to hire for potential rather than experience should take into account cultural-fit.

In start-ups hiring for potential has long been a common strategy. Innovation is fundamental to continued success, budgets are typically limited, career paths relatively unformed and hierarchies very flat. The cultures of these young companies may require everyone to pitch in as needed rather than sticking rigidly to their job description but there is often a “fail fast” mentality with an emphasis on making things happen quickly even if this will lead to mistakes. Furthermore, small team sizes mean that individuals tend to get recognition for the impact they make irrespective of seniority enabling them to achieve rapid career advances - a win-win for organisation and employee. 

Established companies tend to be naturally risk averse, favouring structured career paths and rigid remuneration schemes. The result is organisations that favour a slow and steady approach. In other words many of the traits that ambitious, unproven individuals bring and benefit from in start-ups may have a negative impact in more bureaucratic environments. With neither a proven track record nor the ability to prove themselves quickly, it can also be difficult for inexperienced candidates to earn the confidence of colleagues resulting in increased staff turnover and therefore yet more hiring costs. Irrespective, if the company is expecting the new employee to be a relatively cheap, safe pair of hands then factor in comparatively high needs for support from colleagues and managers as they learn the ropes of their new role. 

Is a bad hire better than no hire?

If a recruiter is unable to find the perfect candidate, it raises the question of whether leaving the role vacant will be more or less harmful than filling it with the best available candidate?

Even the best candidates, carefully vetted and interviewed, with relevant experience sometimes don’t work out in a role. Similarly, having been given both the chance to prove themselves and the right support, many unproven candidates excel. 

While, if possible, it may be advisable to rethink the role or restructure the team, the majority of the time the best idea is simply to hire the best available candidate and give them all the support available.

If you would like further details about any of the trends or would like to speak with us about how we can support you then please email me: or call 0330 174 6801.

The last few years have taken a mental toll on many of us. Speaking with candidates during the pandemic it was evident that issues including financial security, social isolation, restricted mobility and of course the unknown risks of COVID-19 had sadly caused mental health issues to become both more common and more severe. 

Although the focus on the pandemic may have eased, mental health remains a greater concern for many than it was pre-pandemic. A proportion of the population remains vulnerable to the virus, workplace absence remains high increasing workload on colleagues, working patterns are still in flux and the rapidly rising cost of living is pressurising both household finances and company budgets… the list goes on.

Greater awareness, understanding and support 

There is also good news however. As we’ve previously discussed in these blogs, employers are becoming more aware of mental health challenges, and many are proactively putting in place both preventative and support measures for employees. Even where employers are less forward thinking, the ever-increasing interest in mental health in wider society means there is now a huge variety of quality resources including books, online resources and support groups available that individuals can access outside of work. The website of the Charity MIND has useful pages on seeking help for mental health issues:, while a search of “best [mental health / mindfulness / stress busting etc] self-help books” will come up with curated lists of books and synopses of what each delivers on subjects from.

Self-awareness and acceptance

Judging by my conversations with candidates, these resources together with ever more discussion around psychological wellbeing are encouraging people, whatever their state of mind, to manage their mental health proactively as they might their fitness and physical health. 

Many are practicing mindfulness. Some have learned techniques to help manage stress and anxiety. Increasing numbers are actively making the decision not to ‘maximise their career potential’ due to the possible or probable impact on their health. Not only is it becoming increasingly common for candidates to turn down a promotion or job offer for the sake of their mental wellbeing, but some candidates are proactively seeking a step down on the career ladder because they believe it will improve their quality of life. At a personal level I find such decisions both brave and admirable, especially where the individual has given full consideration to what they are doing and why.

The factors that impact mental wellbeing, either positively or negatively, are complex and rarely happen in isolation. For example, taking a promotion may increase work-related stress but simultaneously improve general mental wellbeing due to reduced financial stress or a personal sense of achievement. Similarly, in some circumstances individuals have improved the quality of their time at home by working extra hours to increase their sense of control and professional security. For others long hours are simply a source of frustration or resentment. 

While making a detailed list of factors that contribute positively or negatively to mental wellbeing and prioritising them can help identify which ones really matter, it is important to acknowledge that there isn’t always a good solution. Sometimes it is necessary to accept there are things we cannot change or that doing so is simply not worth it due to the mental toll involved. However, oftentimes a relatively simple change may make a big difference, for example ensuring you have clear targets as well as open and regular communication with your line manager can provide reassurance that you are meeting expectations and so reduce stress. 

How we support you

As society’s understanding of mental health and the resources available to help continue to improve, it is encouraging that both individuals and employers are making time to think about and act on psychological wellbeing. 

Stress, anxiety and other mental health issues are personal, in terms of our susceptibility to them, what triggers them, how they manifest and our ability to manage them. 

Our purpose as recruiters is to find both the right person for the job and the right job for the person. We do that by listening and, should you want us to, sharing our opinions.

The best feelings in this job are knowing you have improved a candidate’s life and that you have helped a company to succeed. They are almost always one and the same and they gave a huge sense of achievement and satisfaction.

If you would like further details about any of the trends or would like to speak with us about how we can support you then please email me: or call 0330 174 6801.

Since society opened up again in the UK in September 2021, significant wage inflation has ensued. Employers across the construction sector have been struggling to attract the employees they need to deliver their plans, while also fighting hard to keep the talent they’ve got. Although employees may consider this an opportunity to maximise their salaries, and understandably so given the soaring costs of living, there is much to be said for taking a considered approach.

The risks of maximising earning potential

Whether or not the job market is buoyant, pushing for a salary increase before developing the commensurate skills and experience can damage your career. Pay typically reflect an employee’s ability to manage their job when something goes wrong, not the 90% of the time that everything is plain sailing, and if an individual finds that they fall short of expectations for their pay grade, it can do lasting damage to both their reputation and self-confidence. Taking a medium-term view and delivering against expectations before requesting an appropriate pay rise is not only likely to be more successful but is also lower risk in terms of continued career development. 

The job market has been buoyant for the last nine months, however the Bank of England, among others, has forecast that the UK will go into recession during 2022 likely reducing the quantity of job opportunities across much of the construction sector. Furthermore, the added pressure of soaring material costs and increasing interest rates may put some companies under financial pressure. This poses two possible issues for those who have pushed their salaries as high as possible. Firstly, should their employer need to make redundancies the most highly paid individuals in at risk roles will be those who offer the greatest potential cost saving. Secondly, individuals at the top end of salary brackets may find they have priced themselves out of the market should they want a sideways or even slightly upwards move. 

How to negotiate your salary

However, even if caution may be advisable, recent cost of living rises are putting many people under financial pressure and a conversation with a recruitment consultant may highlight that your peers’ salaries have increased beyond yours during the last nine months. So, should you want to try to increase your salary, how should you set about it? 

Whether you are looking internally or planning a move the most important thing beyond understanding your market value is to be able to justify it. The ability to demonstrate your value – whether it is saving the company money, driving revenue or delivering tasks or projects nobody else can - makes it much easier for a manager to argue your case for you. Where possible highlight how you have delivered against or exceeded your targets (i.e. the company’s expectations of you) and show where you expect to add more value in the years to come. 

If you are not looking to move then, having set your expectations and considered your reasoning, request a meeting to discuss your career progression. If you are interviewing externally then this is of course part of the process anyway. When the subject of salary arises avoid being the first to share a number – if they agree you will feel you have undersold yourself, if you go wildly in excess of the figure they are considering then you will look like an unrealistic opportunist. The company will likely not only have a salary bracket in mind but will also hopefully articulate future plans for the company and your career development at the same time. Recruiting takes time and costs money, so your manager’s (or the hiring manager’s) focus will typically be on making a fair offer rather than chancing a low-ball figure. 

Whether or not you are happy with the first offer, it does no harm to ask for a little time to consider it. This is particularly important if you struggle to keep your emotions – be they disappointment or excitement – in check. The non-salary elements of an offer can make a huge difference to the true value of an offer and these in particular can get overlooked in the heat of the moment. Even if the offer does not meet your expectations, it is important to remember that companies cannot pay more than they can afford and operational costs are rising in parallel with the cost of living.

Finally, if you are looking externally, beware the counter-offer. Being perceived as using one company to leverage a higher offer with another will typically not only annoy the unsuccessful party and any recruitment consultant involved, but may also leave a sour atmosphere with the ultimately successful hiring company.

If you would like further details about any of the trends or would like to speak with us about how we can support you then please email me: or call 0330 174 6801.

As I’ve previously mentioned in these blogs, when COVID-19 first forced working from home on companies there were widespread reports of increased productivity. However, two years later it is clear that in spite of much improved technology and more refined processes remote workforces have significant downsides. Communication and creativity are suffering, individuals don’t feel the same sense of loyalty to employers (or colleagues) and much of the invaluable on the job training that comes from shadowing colleagues is lost. Furthermore, the novelty and discipline that initially drove the productivity gains are eroding. It is hardly surprising employers are keen to get staff back in the offices but this is sometimes neither easy nor popular. 

Having experienced greater flexibility, many employees are reluctant to return to working patterns we once simply accepted or at the very least tolerated. Some employees loathe the commute, others are concerned about the impact on their mental health resulting from increased risks of catching and potentially spreading COVID-19 as a result of going into offices, and others have concerns around scheduling flexibility.

While employers are not deaf to these concerns, they must balance them with the imperative to be competitive and effective if businesses are to survive.  As in many sectors, construction is gravitating towards circa 50% of employers allowing employees to work from home 1 day per week, with the other circa 50% allowing two days a week from home… the few companies offering 3 days a week from home is now very attractive to candidates who are back in the office 4 days a week. 

While working patterns may be largely standardised, the way employers manage concerns about coming back to the office is a key differentiator not only in relation to the enthusiasm with which staff return, but also in relation to their ability to attract and to retain staff. 

Managing employee anxiety and new habits

Fostering an engaged and motivated atmosphere as staff are ‘encouraged’ back into the office can make a big difference to the productivity gains employers are hoping for. In order to foster a positive mindset many businesses are taking an empathetic approach that recognises how employee attitudes and expectations have shifted and also directly tries to allay their anxieties as far as is realistically possible. 

For many staff the risk to their own safety and the potential of infecting others remains a very real and distressing concern. The companies managing these concerns most effectively are proactively communicating their risk management measures, have in place mechanisms for employees to suggest ways to make the workplace ever safer (e.g. COVID focussed Workplace Practice committees), and are listening to employee concerns at a 1-to-1 level.

Other employers are allowing working days in the office to flex around core hours. For example, they might state employees must be in the office from 10:30 until 15:30 but can flex or work remotely either side of that. This approach enables staff to avoid the most crowded (and high risk) hours on public transport, dodge the worst of rush hour traffic and provide greater flexibility when it comes to childcare arrangements and other commitments. 

To avoid the return to the office being a sudden shock, other companies are allowing staff to gradually build up to the three or four days a week in the office.

Encouraging inter-function communication and a greater sense of team

While reducing the anxiety employees feel around returning to the office is important, so are re-establishing the sense of shared purpose that drives success and improving communication across the business. 

While simple actions such as social drinks or encouraging employees to shadow colleagues in a different team can help with this some companies are going further, for example by implementing re-onboarding programmes. Re-onboarding is typically particularly valuable for hires made during lockdown and junior employees who, as a result of home working, have to date had a siloed experience of the business. Some companies however are re-onboarding all employees as they look to embed a cross-function understanding of the business, good communication between different team and a strong company culture. 

Mandating core days

Many companies are implementing one or more ‘core’ days i.e. specific days of the week when all employees have to be in the office. In some cases the core days are company-wide, others companies are leaving it to the discretion of individual business units or teams. While mandating specific days will anger some employees, many businesses feel it is critical to improving collaboration and creativity. In order to minimise push back, policies should be implemented consistently and once a decision is made the company or team should avoid the temptation to tinker thereby ensuring that employees can put in place childcare provisions and other commitments outside work without the risk of needing to repeatedly change them. To soften the blow of mandated days in the office, some companies are introducing social activities, for example putting in place company drinks or even free lunches on a specific day of the week.

With staff shortages across construction, companies that are sympathetic to employee concerns will experience relatively lower attrition than many in the sector. And employers who listen to staff, communicate what the business is doing and why, and look to foster the sense of common purpose that has often been diluted during lockdown will thrive.

If you would like further details about any of the trends or would like to speak with us about how we can support you then please email me: or call 0330 174 6801.

Following more than two years of upheaval and uncertainty it feels as though the latest phase of our approach to the pandemic i.e. living-with-Covid is enabling businesses to settle into a ‘new normal’.  In construction candidates, employees and employers are moving towards a hybrid of pandemic and pre-pandemic working practices that require face to face contact but also allow greater flexibility than employees enjoyed only a few years ago. So what does the ‘new normal’ look like?

New Recruiting Practices

1st interview = video interview: in spite of restrictions on movement being lifted, most first round interviews will continue to be via video reflecting the improvements both in technology and online interview techniques that were accelerated by lockdowns. Online interviewing not only does makes scheduling far easier than it is for face-to-face, but it also gives an idea of how well candidates communicate via video, something that will remain an essential skill going forward. The ubiquitous use of online interviewing also removes the time and cost barriers of face-to-face interviews that previously encouraged both candidates and employers to focus on local opportunities.

2nd round = face to face: while the overwhelming majority of 1st round interviews will be remote, subsequent rounds are likely to be face to face as interviewers look to really get to know candidates and understand their skills, experiences and motivations. Face-to-face interviewing also significantly improves the likelihood that the successful candidate(s) will be a good cultural fit.

New Working Practices

The new balance of working life reflects the new recruiting practices in many ways. Although companies are increasing their use of online meetings and offering more flexible working opportunities, employees in the construction sector will nonetheless be expected in the office or on site between at least 3 days per week.  

Few companies will require staff to be present in person five days a week, nor will employees be expected to attend social events if it makes them feel uncomfortable. However, we would expect individuals who network actively to progress faster in their careers than those who choose to opt out because they will be better connected and have greater exposure to both the business and industry.

The amount of travel involved with most roles will be significantly less than pre-pandemic however, to avoid losses in productivity, companies’ expectations of individuals to add value in team meetings, especially in relation to innovation and developing strategies, will increase i.e. a focus on quality rather than quantity of engagement. 

Other ‘New Normal’ trends and what they mean…

If you would like further details about any of the trends or would like to speak with us about how we can support you then please email me: or call 0330 174 6801.

The recruitment market in the built environment sector is currently as competitive as it has been in my 30 years’ recruiting. Candidates are receiving multiple offers and wage inflation is rife. In times like these some employers are noticeably better than their competitors both at retaining employees and attracting new staff. Their success generally reflects the effort they invest in nurturing their ‘employer brand’ and in particular the clarity they provide around career development possibilities.

What is ‘employer brand’ and how is it different to ‘employee value proposition’? 

The ‘employee value proposition’ refers to the full range of benefits that a company offers its employees from salary to career progression, work life balance to company culture. Essentially, it is the company’s marketing brochure on “why you should work for us”.

The “employer brand” reflects how the company is perceived as a place to work. It is a melting pot of the company’s reputation for all the factors that might influence an individual’s desire to work there (or not) - the organisational culture, benefits packages, the employee value proposition (i.e. what the company wants to be known for as an employer) and career prospects etc. While the headline employer brand will typically constitute a handful of factors (potentially positive and/or negative) that set the company apart from the competition as an employer, each individual will likely also zone in on the company’s reputation for the specific factors that they value.

The growing importance of non-financial drivers

Although money remains the primary driver for most employees, over the last ten years there has been a marked increase in the importance afforded to factors beyond salary when individuals decide where they want to work. The social purpose of the organisation, company culture, opportunities for professional and personal growth, work-life balance and dozens of other factors are now material considerations rather than after thoughts for many candidates and employees. However, the variability as to which factors each individual prioritises and how much they matter mean there is no magic formula for creating a successful employer brand.

The importance of career progression 

Almost without exception, the companies with the strongest employer brands are excellent both at articulating clear career paths and delivering against them. There is now an expectation that the promise of “excellent career progression opportunities” will have substance behind it and candidates will expect to discuss opportunities in some detail during the interview process, while existing employees will expect the training and development they need to achieve their potential.

How to create a positive employer brand 

  1. Audit your current employer brand: an employer brand audit need not be time consuming or complex. Employers can quickly get a feel for how they are perceived by reviewing employee satisfaction surveys; looking at Glassdoor; consolidating feedback from exit and onboarding interviews; and talking with recruitment consultants and former employees. Bear in mind both that answers will often be watered down to be tactful and that the employer brand may vary between stakeholder groups – for example, a company’s employer brand may vary between current, former and prospective employees; and between IT, management, technical specialists etc. 
  2. Decide what you want to be known for: having understood the current employer brand, employers should decide which aspects of their employee value proposition they want to differentiate their employer brand from. 
  3. Communicate your intended employer brand internally and externally: with changes to the employee value proposition implemented in the day to day running of the company, the company should proactively communicate both how it wants to be perceived as an employer and what it is doing to earn that reputation. Ensuring that there are visible, short term ‘wins’ can help generate momentum and minimise the lag between implementing changes and shifts in perception of the brand.
  4. Measure success: there are often gaps between how companies want to be perceived, how they think they are perceived and their actual reputations. This is as much true of employer brand as any other aspect of the business. Regular measurement will help minimise those discrepancies and ensure a continued focus on investment in the employer brand, helping the company to attract and retain the talent they want both short and long term.

Although reputations are hard earned and easily lost, companies can quickly move their employer brand in a positive direction by developing 1) a clear vision of how they want to be perceived; 2) embedding that vision into practice; and 3) communicating internally and externally what the company is doing and why. And the longer the focus on nurturing the employer brand continues, the easier the company will find it to attract and retain the people it wants.

If you would like further details about any of the trends or would like to speak with us about how we can support you then please email me: or call 0330 174 6801.

The feeling of exhilaration when you land a new job is hard to beat, but when you have been unhappy in your current role the sense of relief, even liberation, can be overwhelming. And, with your escape mapped out, that can make it tempting to share your frustrations and anger. Don’t! 

While providing constructive feedback in an exit interview is very important, settling scores, sharing your true feelings or bad mouthing those around you (even though they deserve it) is never a good idea. Although construction is a huge industry, the reality is that most of us have specialisms within it which make it much more tight knit than you might first imagine and burning bridges can easily end up being a career limiting move.

Doubtless sharing a few home truths will deliver an immediate feeling of satisfaction, however candidates do lose out on roles because of it. In one instance the new employer asked for references from someone the candidate had been too frank with; another had their job offer rescinded after their new boss heard, via mutual acquaintances, of the candidate undermining their former employer. Colleagues will often reserve judgement on your criticisms until either they know you better or have a fuller picture, but the chances are your comments will make it harder to earn their trust and even then there may likely always linger a thought “If he/she did it to them, then he/she will do it to us”.

Even if no immediate consequences result from undermining former colleagues there are often longer term repercussions. The chances are that throughout the rest of your career you will depend to some extent on your network of clients, suppliers and colleagues past and present – it is one of the things that increases our value to employers. However, for the network to deliver its full benefit your contacts need to trust you and a reputation for unprofessional behaviour is hard to shake.

A further uncomfortable consequence of burning bridges is that, with networks being so tightly interwoven, it is common for former colleagues to find themselves reunited at other employers – oftentimes with the former reporting lines but other times with the manager-subordinate roles reversed. Those relationships can be hard to rebuild. 

If you’re not comfortable with what you should or shouldn’t say, run it past your recruitment consultant but start with the assumption that anyone in your network could become your manager, client or supplier. And if they don’t then one of their close contacts probably will. 

How to resign properly

  1. Make sure that you are comfortable with everything in your new contract before signing.
  2. Reread your current contract so you are familiar with your contractual obligations.
  3. Write a resignation letter
    • Start with the date and your name
    • Address it to you line manager
    • State the position you are resigning from and when your last day will be (look at your contract for notice period)
    • State your intention to minimise disruption by completing a full handover
    • Thank the employer for the opportunity and experience
    • Sign off including contact information
  4. Having written the letter schedule a meeting with you manager and consider what you want to say before handing them the envelope. Be prepared for questions about your reasons for leaving, where you are going, and why that job.
  5. In the meeting be professional and honest with your manager without overstepping the mark. If they make a counter offer ask for time to think about it and read our article “Why you should never accept a counter offer” (
  6. Hand over the letter and provide a copy to HR.

So when is it safe to settle scores and tell them all the home truths you’ve been biting your lip about for the last two years? Once you’ve retired. 

If you would like further details about any of the trends or would like to speak with us about how we can support you then please email me: or call 0330 174 6801.

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