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Social media can be used for more than just selling

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by Kathleen Renne

It should come as no surprise that people seeking employment turn to the Internet and social media as part of their search. However, as Jim Fearon from Hays Canada revealed, companies aren't leveraging that digital platform as much as they could – or should – to attract new talent.
Social media can be used for more than just selling
Photo: Hays

This remains one of the outstanding challenges for the industry.

That's one of the insights Fearon will share during his afternoon seminar at Buildex  Calgary entitled Navigate the Calgary Construction Market for Individual, Team and Business Success.

Fearon said data collected from the many surveys Hays conducts suggests the vast majority of company websites – and social media outlets – are dedicated to attracting customers.

"If you look at the way companies use social media, 90 per cent of it is focused on selling services and maybe 10 per cent is trying to attract workers," he said, adding companies are often concerned about diluting their respective sales messages if they start using their social media platforms for recruitment purposes.

"Seventy per cent of organizations realize they need to use social media in this way, but 70 per cent of companies are also worried about how it could damage their brand. It's a bit of a vicious circle," he explained.

While Fearon said one solution is for a company to partner with a recruitment agency such as Hays Canada, another is to re-work a company's own social-media platforms.

Fearon said it's no easy task convincing a company of this necessity.

"It takes an investment of time and resources on the part of the client, which is particularly challenging in this economic climate," he said.

"But, the facts are still the facts. The economy doesn't change our key findings."

During his seminar, Fearon will also share regional trends affecting construction companies and workers in light of the current economic situation.

"Construction companies are still busy and there are construction cranes all over the skyline. It's the future work that's in question," he said.

"I don't think the construction market will get impacted the same way as oil and gas, but the longer oil prices stay low, the fewer new projects there will be."

Fearon said the sectors that will remain particularly busy include highrise and commercial construction, as well as property management.

However, Fearon said, the architecture and engineering sides of the construction industry have slowed a bit, as has residential construction.

Moreover, he said, the economic downturn has affected job-search strategies.

"People are taking more time to make decisions and to pick candidates that meet their requirements, even if we're still working in a candidate-short, skills-short market," he said.

"There are fewer jobs available now than six months ago, so it's natural for companies to think it's easier to pick up better people now. But when the market becomes uncertain, the best people are less likely to move jobs," Fearon explained.

Fearon said the people who may find it particularly difficult to get jobs today, as compared to a year ago, are those new to the job market.

"Those coming out of college will find it hardest, because companies have fewer opportunities at the junior level," he said.

And Fearon has some advice for these folks, which he'll also share in his presentation at Buildex.

"Be flexible when it comes to the companies you're looking at and the positions you're prepared to take," he said

"Present your CV in the best way possible, and prepare very thoroughly for interviews ... If there are fewer jobs out there, you've got to present yourself better than all the other candidates."

Another part of Fearon's seminar will share the findings of a Hays report exploring the "DNA" of a VP of Construction.

The report presents the results of interviews with more than one hundred vice presidents of construction across Canada and shares their stories, how they moved from entry-level positions to that of vice president.

Fearon said that to progress one's career forward, it's essential to acquire a broad knowledge.

"In the first five years of your career, don't jump around from job to job. Learn as much as you can at the junior level, so can move upward," he said.

Navigate the Calgary Construction Market for Individual, Team and Business Success runs from 12:30  p.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 4.

Smith agreed that employee recognition is important to him and his co-workers.

"My co-workers and I want long-term recognition, not everyday praise. At the end of a project, they should show it by saying, 'We've got another job, and we'd like you to come along,'" he said

Termuende said part of the solution to improve employee retention lies with a company's human resources (HR) department.

However, he sees some challenges.

"HR departments in Canada are viewed as cost centres, not as strategy centres ... Companies need to empower HR to bring on the right people for the right reasons," he said.

"We live in a hyper-connected world. We can apply for a job in Sweden this afternoon that we wouldn't have even known about 15 years ago. That awareness of everything that's going on, that's what has changed."

Content employees may not look as hard for other opportunities.

"If people are happy in their positions and they have the potential to do the best they can do, if they feel their full potential is being unlocked, while still growing and learning, other opportunities aren't as engaging," he adds.

Smith said he hopes to remain with the company that he's currently working at least until he achieves his journeyman status.

"They treat me well. I get great hours, great benefits. I can't complain ... I think companies value their tradespeople. Companies want guys that last a long time," he said.

Generation mYsunderstood takes place Wednesday, Nov. 4 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

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