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Job Hunting in a Tightening Market

March, 2023
Adam Richardson

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.

About the author:

Adam Richardson - Managing Director

Adam has over 20 years’ experience recruiting procurement and commercial professionals across the construction sector.

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