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Four ways to secure building services talent in a competitive climate


This year, confidence in the building services market has continued to grow, rebounding well after a turbulent and unpredictable 2016. It would be fair to characterise the climate today as ‘business as usual’ – albeit with a degree of caution.

Since January, Hays Building Services has seen increasing demand for expert candidates from consultancies, contractors and end-users alike, following the ‘pause and review’ which occurred in the aftermath of the EU referendum. In fact, the demand for building services professionals is now at a 12 month high.

For the most part, this is being driven by the continued trend for organisations to open and expand regional offices outside the central hub of London. As such, there is an urgent requirement for a greater number and range of skilled professionals to support broader business remits.

However, acute candidate shortages remain a serious challenge. Not only are there already significant building services skills shortages, but these are being compounded by the lack of professionals actively seeking jobs. For the past 18 months, we have seen a continued decrease in building services job-seekers, a trend which was exacerbated immediately following the referendum as these employees decided to sit-tight during an uncertain economic environment.

Simply put, the supply of skilled candidates is not high enough to keep up with the increase in demand, with certain roles particularly affected including Quantity and Maintenance Surveyors, M&E Design Engineers and Contracts and Projects Managers.

In addition, candidates today are looking for more than just a good salary in a new role. Instead, they are also assessing whether a new position offers them significant career development opportunities, if an organisation has a positive and enjoyable workplace culture, and whether it will prove to be a good personal ‘fit’ for them.

Therefore, when it comes to finding your ideal employee in such a skills-short, competitive landscape, you need to look at ways in which you can enhance your recruitment process. Here are our four recommendations to help you secure top building services talent:

1. Highlight your reputation and workplace culture

Most building services candidates are well aware of how in-demand their skills are, and as such are able to select roles which fulfil all the criteria of their ideal role. Employers should therefore be sure not only to benchmark their salaries and offer a good remuneration package, but also stress the other factors that make their organisation good to work for during interviews. This includes highlighting a strong reputation in the market, an enjoyable workplace culture and transparent career progression opportunities.

2. Change your interview style

Remember that a good candidate is interviewing you as much as you are interviewing them. Dedicate the initial 10-15 minutes to promoting your organisation and the role on offer. Not only will this be a good chance to sell the opportunity, but it also puts candidates at ease, allowing them to relax and perform better.

3. Be quick to hire

Building services professionals are increasingly likely to seek multiple options in order make an informed decision, and wait for the perfect role. Employers should maintain their recruitment activity, and when they find a good candidate, act fast to make them an offer.

4. Continue the conversation, even once you’ve made an offer

Once you have made and offer and had it accepted, be sure to maintain communication with your future employee. Contact them at the start and end of their notice period, and suggest a time for them to meet the whole team. This continued conversation shows that you are investing in the future working relationship, and will help talent retention in the long-run.

Thanks to a skills and candidate short recruitment market, competition for top building services talent is extremely fierce. There are quality professionals looking for jobs, but their scarcity means that you need to be highly prepared when recruiting so as not to waste any opportunity to make a good hire. By enhancing your interview processes, selling your organisation to candidates and reacting quickly when you meet a good fit, and you will find yourself better placed to manage in today’s recruitment climate.

If you are looking for support with your hiring needs please contact your local office.

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