Hire Calling: How Builders Can Jolt Themselves Into Preferred- Career-Of-Choice

As the BLS releases JOLTS data quantifying a growing mismatch between employers and the workforce, builders stand to gain from the economic reboot.

John McManus May 11th, 2021

Consensus widely suggests that one of three factors – or a combination of two or more – figures into why willing workers are not clamoring at the gates to re-enter the great American economic reboot of 2021.

  • extended unemployment benefits
  • lingering threat of exposure to Covid
  • delayed options around child- and eldercare provisions at home

It's largely acknowledged that 8 million fewer people are working in May 2021 than were employed before pandemic shock and awe shook global economic fundamentals like a dusty floor rug last early-March.

Since then, fundamental, structural, and sustainable economic drivers have been revving up on a trajectory not seen in a generation, with the added fuel of fiscal and monetary adrenaline – and, importantly, an assumed "too-big-to-fail" safety net cushioning any perceived risk.

So, now industries across a spectrum of economic sectors have more job openings than in a long time, which is tantamount to muting revenue and growth opportunity, and creating a vicious-circle of opportunity-lost. Here, Wall Street Journal economics writer Eric Morath notes in his "Job Openings Rise Despite Hiring Slowdown," analysis this morning:

Labor demand is particularly strong in certain industries. Openings in loading and stocking jobs, which include those at e-commerce warehouses, were up more than 60% in late April, compared with February 2020, according to Indeed. Construction jobs were up a similar amount, reflecting strong demand for new-home construction. Manufacturing jobs were up 65%, reflecting strong demand for goods such as vehicles and appliances.

Managers at every point in building's value chain hardly need to hear this. They live it, morning, noon, and night.

Still, while it's generally acknowledged that at least two of the three above mentioned factors restraining people from swarming these wide-open employment opportunities are temporary – UI support through the summer and schools reopening their doors at the same time – builders and their partners might recognize it's not these one-and-done headwinds holding them back from hiring the people, the skills, the talent, the problem-solvers, the morale boosters, the team players, the ones with court vision, and the ones with leadership gifts.

Job openings, layoffs, and terminations data releases – no matter how clearly they quantify the gap between where employers need help and where workers seek opportunity – are table stakes when it comes to recognizing builders' talent and capability challenge.

The mismatch – which was challenged even prior to the pandemic – between employer-owner-producers and the human capital they need to make money and grow value is fundamentally a greater threat than JOLTS data express.

However, that same mismatch also serves as a measure of another kind of delta – an enormous reward the residential construction community could derive from a human capital reset.

At least now, more builders and their partners have awakened to the cultural pivot and action they need to undertake to become part of the next-gen talent universe's consideration set.

Homebuilders coined the expression "preferred builder-of-choice" as a way of securing traction, loyalty, and access with their hard-to-get trade partners over the past decade.

The term hinged on a few basics of doing business that could set them apart from peers, and in many cases, lock-in reliable access to quality human capacity.

  • Quick, dependable payment
  • Scheduling precision
  • Basic respect for safety on the job sites

Simple, logical, business relationship traits, builders found, could go far toward setting themselves apart from competitors who tended to take reliable access to predictably-priced trade crews for granted.

In a sense, now, construction and its ecosystem of related fields, must take cultural stock of its potential role as a "preferred industry sector and career of choice" among people who now have opportunities to choose from a wide and growing array of sectors, all begging for ways to increase their capacity in the face of an economy on the verge of breaking out.

Join the conversation


John McManus

John McManus

President and Founder

John McManus, founder and president of The Builder’s Daily, is an award-winning editorial, programming, and digital content strategist. TBD's purpose is a community capable of constant improvement.


A Homeownership Model Rethink Widens Attainable Access

For Tamara Knox and Josh Morris, a not-so-chance encounter, hours into their first day as grad students at Cambridge, MA-based MIT, kindled in each of them the spark of why they've gone on to devote themselves – together – to solving for part of housing's access, attainment, and affordability axis.

Will A New Raft Of Regional Bank Woes Impact Homebuilders?

Half of newly constructed single-family homes are built – and many more developed – by firms that rely on bank financing for real estate acquisition and development of projects, construction resources, and operating expenses.

A Homebuilder's Dilemma: How Much Spec To Build For 2024?

"What is the optimal scale of spec inventory?" With economic signals sending mixed messages, a thin line separates maintaining sufficient inventory to meet demand and avoiding the financial strain of having too much.