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In Focus: Looking for a Construction Job in a Tough Market

With all the doom and gloom in the world economy and related slump in the construction industry a new landscape has been created. All employers, jobseekers and recruitment agencies have had to adjust and re-evaluate their goals and expectations and at Maxim we are no different. Although we still have some great jobs for quantity surveyors, project managers and other managerial construction roles in the UK, Middle East, Far East and other niche locations, the numbers are hugely reduced from this time last year. That said, we still strive to improve the quality of our service during these unprecedented times.

With so many candidates on the market it is not surprising that the selection criteria within a job description have been tightened up. This is no bad thing however when considering the low quality of CV’s and employees companies have taken on in order to service impetuous clients during the boom times. For good recruitment consultancies like Maxim, the opportunity has returned to be able to resource, shortlist, select and deliver a quality recruitment service to those employers who understand and appreciate such benefits.

It is also no coincidence that many of the best companies to work for in construction, whether you’re working as a quantity surveyor or project manager are those who have cultivated close relationships with good quality, established recruitment agencies and head hunters.

So, let’s work together during this difficult patch to maximize the chances of you achieving your job and career objectives. Here are our suggestions of how you can best help us to help you.

Actually Out of a Job or Just a Bit Fed Up?

If you’ve had an ‘at risk’ or redundancy notification, then get your updated CV straight over to us. The reality is that literally thousands of people are in the same situation and if your future position is looking a little shaky, sometimes it is better to ‘jump before you are pushed’.

If however, you are just a bit fed up with what is most probably a safe job, even if you have had a 10 or 15 percent pay cut, then it is worth thinking hard about how realistic your expectations are before you go to market. Confidentiality is vital in the current climate and we’d certainly recommend keeping your name anonymous if you do decide to use a job board, or agreeing a restricted brief with any recruitment agencies you go to.

Your CV and Core Skills – the basics

The frequency with which we receive CVs that have basic spelling and grammatical errors, contain passwords or are massive files written in illegible types, colours or fonts is considerable. Do make sure you undertake some web research on CV presentation and use a CV template – there’s one in most versions of computer software and one on the Maxim website.

Finally, send your CV in word format, not PDF or WPS or a scan of an old paper version if you want people to be able to do something with it. Don’t hide anything or cover any aspect up as an employer or consultant will spot this immediately. If you have had a break in your career, don’t ignore it but try and show some positive experience from this and how this might add value to a company.

CV – Advanced

Generally, a 3-5 page CV shows the ability to edit, prioritise and summarise – skills that a good quantity surveyor, project manager, estimator or engineer should demonstrate from the start. There’s no shame in editing the focus of the CV to match the job you are applying for as long as the facts remain correct. Make the information concise and highlight achievements which will be pertinent to the current market place. Past behaviour is indicative of future behaviour so if you can show that you have been successful in growing sales or cutting overheads then that is worth making clear on your CV. It’s now time for loyal, high calibre candidates to show their expertise on projects from start to finish in contrast to the job hoppers.

Supporting Information

Support your CV with a concise summary of the types of role you would consider in order of preference. Mentioning your current or expected salary will also help shortlist you for interview above others with unrealistic expectations. Keep abreast of market developments by reading trade press and broadsheets to hear about new contracts and projects and follow them through with your recruitment agency to see how they may translate into work. Consider all the roles and locations you would be comfortable with in the current economic climate – is now an opportunity to get into something different that you would love?

Application Strategy

Don’t be tempted to scatter your CV to every company/job/agency that you come across as this may weaken your position. If you and your CV keep getting sent for different positions a company will assume you want any job and do not have any allegiance to them. Learn from each experience and get feedback. Keep in touch with people to let them know that you are still available. It is fine to be proactive, but don’t be too pushy with an employer or recruitment consultant as this may have the opposite effect.

If an agency isn’t advertising for your skill set it may not actually be worth sending them a CV in this current climate. It’s also worth checking that an advertised job is still live before applying. When vacancies are scarce many expired positions are simply refreshed, so take the time to find out. Treat job boards with caution even though they do serve a purpose. Times are tough for them too so a reduction of their rates for access to their CV database may mean your CV is propelled to many hands without you knowing where it has gone.

Don’t let your anxiety about being jobless lead you into practices that you wouldn’t usually condone. The temptation is there to use all contacts good and bad – generally you will know who can help or has helped in the past and often leopards don’t change their spots. If someone is telling you about a perfect job that is just what you’ve always wanted but it sounds too good to be true then chances are it probably is just that. Once you have spoken with us and if you think it is necessary, perhaps it is time to call ex colleagues and bosses. If they have moved on again let us know and we might be able to help.

Making the Web Work For You

You get a confirmation of receipt from the Maxim website and we always read every CV and meet every few days to discuss possible matches. However if you are an exact match for one of the jobs on the website please give us a call.

Finally, you can consider making use of social networking sites: Linkedin.com, Pipl.com or Facebook. You can set up your profile for free and import your email contacts to get connected to them. Please also connect to Steve Thomas, Stuart Hackett or Helen Jackson at Maxim or join our Facebook Jobseekers group online.

Other Job Hunting Tips

• Reconsider your package. Don’t undersell yourself but have clear in your mind what the minimum salary band is you would consider. • Get advice from someone such as a recruitment consultant as to the level of expected pay currently for that role. • Work out where your skill sets can be transferred. Think laterally: if you have only worked for a contractor before think about those who may still be busy- new government initiatives may support certain areas, for example ‘green’ initiatives. Is there a qualification you could study for which would aid this transition?

The Bigger Picture for the Future

A specialist recruitment agency will be able to advise on markets that may be faring better during the downturn. In the Middle East we are expecting improvements after Eid/Ramadan 2009 for example. An overseas move should be carefully considered however and your agency can advise you on how your current lifestyle and situation can be best transferred overseas.

Finally, keep up the momentum. Maintaining a positive attitude and enthusiasm even in the face of rejection is difficult but important.

Maxim has planned trips back to the UAE for the third time this year and with the recent reports of the planned $7 billion spend in Abu Dhabi on construction projects it is worth keeping in touch. The positivity surrounding Saudi Arabia made Maxim’s mission there worthwhile and the planned trip to the Far East later this year offers great cause for optimism.

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