For pile driving contractors, hiring the right staff members can lay the foundation for a successful business. Contractors look to hire employees with a diverse set of skills, which can make the process of finding new employees long and arduous.
It's a prospect that can lead some companies to ask, "Where do we even begin?"
Hays is a recruiting company with a worldwide presence. The company, which has been in the industry for over 50 years, is spread over 33 countries, employing 10,000 people. Last year, the company placed 77,000 people into permanent jobs and 244,000 people into temporary roles.
Hays originally entered the U.S. market in 2009 and then acquired veteran staffing firm Veredus in 2014. Today, the company operates as Hays and has 12 office located across the U.S. The company has divisions that specialize in construction and often works directly with the pile driving industry.
"Within our company, we have many specialists who only recruit in certain areas. I look after the civil construction transit and marine areas," said Greg Belpomme, a principal consultant with Hays. "Obviously, within the marine areas there's a great deal of foundation and pile work. We also have another division here that solely looks after the foundation and excavation portions of civil construction. We do significant work for heavy general civil contractors. My colleagues and I specifically look after different parts of the divisions including marine, transit and a subdivision with a focus on the excavation side in the northeast corridor of the U.S."
Belpomme says that Hays can help pile driving contractors hire a range of employees: project managers, estimators, superintendents, health and safety representatives and cost controllers.
Hays is often hired by employers that bid on public agency roles, such as jobs for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey or the United States Army Corps of Engineers. This means that Hays puts a lot of work into recruiting top notch estimators.
"We get a lot of estimation requests, from junior estimators right up to chief estimators," said Belpomme. "Anyone can bid on a project and win, but it doesn't mean you're going to make money. We place the people that are able to bid on projects and ensure those bids are feasible. That's huge for us."
Hays also receives many requests to hire project managers or superintendents, employees who have a firm knowledge of driving piles, and are able to enter the field and get the job done. The employees also must be able to ensure the project is done safely and to scope.
Although every hire is different, Belpomme said some of the key similarities with the clients they deal with is that they're looking for seasoned employees who want to make a significant and lasting career move.
"Companies tend not to use us for hiring graduates as that area isn't a pain point for them," said Belpomme. "For instance, I tend to focus on superintendents, project managers, safety engineers and managers, all the way up to the vice president of operations or director level. We find people that oftentimes don't want to be found; we bring them in by being ambassadors for the company we represent.
"Most of the contractors we work for are looking to hire permanent staff. While we do have temporary staffing solutions where we can find employees for two- to three-month projects, the majority of our clients hire for succession; they don't want to hire someone who's here today and gone tomorrow."
A recruiting process that many people are familiar with is where a job posting is published online and companies hope that qualified employees will see the posting and apply. As Belpomme explains, Hays goes beyond this standard practice and that's one of the factors that makes the company stand out. He says the process starts by meeting with a client and entering into a contractual agreement to be its staffing partner.
"We almost become an ambassador of that company," he said. "A lot of our clients like to think of us as their internal recruiters, just sitting externally."
After the relationship between Hays and the company begins, Belpomme says Hays begins its headhunting services in "a pretty niche way." The company develops a hiring plan by talking with key figures in its client's organization such as the president or owner. This plan includes examining the specific companies who might be their competitors as long as these companies aren't also clients of Hays. Then, Hays turns its attention to finding prospective employees through its vast network.
"We will meet and interview every single candidate, reference check every single candidate and then take those candidates to our clients and arrange for them to meet; we guide them through the entire process," said Belpomme. "If our client is focused on project managers with piling experience, for example, we can compile a list of clients and send a newsletter to our client that highlights the skills of those employees, without naming them at this point. As the process progresses, we then go to resume reviews, shortlisting, and help our clients with interview prep so they can ask questions that will help find the right person for them."
Finding the right person takes time
Belpomme said the time period for finding the right candidate can vary greatly depending on the job. Some recruitments can take a couple weeks while certain specialist roles can take months to fill. One of the factors that affects the process can be the employees themselves.
"We've had cases where we've been speaking to a candidate for two years who isn't quite ready to move, but when that particular company says, 'We're looking,' you just know culturally that the candidate is the right person for the job," said Belpomme. "Some of these skilled employees are sceptical. We help to boost awareness of the company we're recruiting for."
He adds that most job placements are fairly seamless. If a job takes longer to fill, companies are usually fine with that because they'd rather have the right person than a person who will leave or be detrimental to the organization. A lot of people engage in counteroffers when it comes to hiring, so Hays' support isn't just on finding employees but may also include the entire counter-offer process.
One of the tools that Hays frequently utilizes in its recruitment process is LinkedIn. If you're registered on the business and employment-oriented social networking platform, you may already follow Hays; the company is one of the top 20 most followed companies along with the likes of Pepsi and Nike.
"We're seen as the recruiter of choice, which is a great way to have a vast reach," said Belpomme. "If we're looking for a pile driver in New York, the ideal candidate could be all the way out in Kansas or Canada on a business project, and they'll be able to see the job opportunity due to our reach. We actually are partners with LinkedIn in terms of having it built into our database, which is a great tool for us."
Belpomme says Hays is aware that the pile driving industry is a complex one. The company felt that becoming a member of the Pile Driving Contractors Association (PDCA) and networking with members would help it gain a better knowledge of the industry. Belpomme noted that while Hays may be specialists in its field, the company knows it can always benefit from different perspectives. Hays is looking forward to continually working alongside the industry.
"Our business is not just about providing staffing solutions, but also building relationships," said Belpomme. "There's people that have been in the pile driving industry for 30 to 50 years. We decided to become a member of PDCA because the best way for us to be able to understand and facilitate those people is to network directly with them. We can always learn more from other people and it's great being part of an organization that helps to spread awareness through educational materials. It helps to unite people that are all doing similar things. That's one of the best ways everyone can work together and assist one another. That was the main driving factor for why we joined the PDCA."
Moving forward, Belpomme says Hays hopes to continue being the go-to company for anything market or hiring related. The company also has some exciting new initiatives planned.
"We're looking to do industry-specific webinars or dial-in sessions featuring presentations by senior professionals within the industry who can share some insight into some of the challenges that they're facing to keep being successful," said Belpomme. "It's a way for companies to bounce ideas off each other."