Hiring Up

by Katie Sloan

There is a spike in hiring for new student housing construction.

The need for top talent is in high demand. But, is there a shortage of top talent? During the past six to 12 months, I have experienced a dramatic spike in hiring by my clients that develop, build and manage private student housing projects throughout the U.S. This is obviously good news, considering most other sectors of the construction industry is still struggling to rebound from the past (or current) recession. Based on what I’m hearing from my clients, this trend will continue and some do not see it slowing down anytime soon.

During the recession, two to three years ago, many firms experienced a sudden stop in development and construction. As a result, there were massive layoffs. Many of those affected were talented individuals that had great tenure and successful careers. Because of the sudden downturn in the economy, and with no end to the recession in sight, many decided to find employment in a different industry, which drained the talent pool for student housing. Now that there is a positive turn in new development and construction, many firms are not seeing the stability in a candidate’s background that they were used to seeing in the past and are reluctant to hire those individuals that are two to three years removed from the construction industry, fearing they have lost what it takes build these projects.

As someone who is in the market place day in and day out, I have had to address these concerns with my clients. Some are receptive to hiring those that have been removed from the industry and willing to spend time with someone to get them up to speed, while others are not. Candidates have had to accept less money or a lesser role to be able to prove their worth over a period of time to rebuild their careers with a new employer. So, where will the experienced talent come from? It will come in time — as everyone knows a quality education is necessary to compete for jobs on a global scale.

Most people also know that young adults today have a different lifestyle; they expect modern living accommodations with all the bells and whistles. Colleges and universities that compete to offer a quality education today will now need to compete for quality housing tomorrow. In return, this should create more jobs, more opportunities for growth in ones career, a return to stable employment and a marketable resume. Many of my clients are excited about the future of student housing, as well as market rate multifamily projects since the single family home market is still struggling to rebound from the collapse of the housing boom.

Many of my clients have several projects currently under construction with a healthy backlog of projected projects to start construction within six months. To give an idea of the type of positions my clients are hiring for, here are just a few: project managers, development managers, property managers, operation managers, assistant project managers, superintendents, purchasing, and estimators.

It’s exciting to see job creation in one sector of the construction industry. Let’s hope there will be an investment in other sectors of construction (commercial, industrial, heavy/highway) that will create additional jobs.

— Jeff Kristoff, CPC, is president of JK Executive Search, LLC, specializing in the construction industry.

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