Whilst it’s clear that there is a gender gap in the construction industry, recent years have seen this traditional imbalance begin to shift.  Despite these green shoots, firms in the industry still need to be doing more to address this gap.  Now is a great time for action: there is currently an opportunity for firms to attract younger females, whose careers may have been affected by the pandemic.

Jag Panesar, Director and Founder of Xpand Marketing, a full-service marketing agency based in Bradford, shares his insights on how the construction sector should leverage digital marketing recruitment strategies to attract top talent.

Jag says, “Although the UK construction industry has made good progress over recent years to address the gender imbalance.  There is still much to do as figures are still low compared to other sectors.”  In the second quarter of 2020, females still only accounted for 15% of the UK construction workforce [1]. 

In an attempt to minimise the gender gap, the industry has been active in recent years, with companies and professional institutions, e.g., Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), actively organising initiatives to encourage school-aged girls to embark on a career in construction.  

Jag added, “The UK construction and engineering sector must revisit its approach to recruitment. Due to the covid-19 pandemic, unemployment in the UK is currently at an all-time high of 5%, equating to 1.7 million people [2]).  Young people have borne the brunt of a large number of these job losses.  However, this means that there is a wider talent pool to tap into, so there is an opportunity.  The construction industry should use this to their advantage by attracting those younger females who may be out of work because of the pandemic.”

Jag is of the belief that construction firms should apply some of the core concepts of inbound marketing to their recruitment strategy.  Rather than using traditional recruitment methods, such as advertising in hard copy publications or using recruitment agencies, firms could instead, embrace digital recruitment marketing. Firms should be adding social media and inbound marketing strategies into the mix.

Jag says, “No matter the size of your company, with more people job hunting, you can bet potential applicants are crawling through websites, scrolling through social media and checking out third-party review sites such as Glassdoor.”

That’s why it’s critical to project a strong employer brand online.  You can use content to engage with potential candidates at each stage of the funnel.”

Jag explains that there are three stages in the talent acquisition funnel: awareness, consideration and interest.  It’s essential that companies create suitable content to cover each of these stages. For example, in the awareness stage, candidates will be actively researching your company, so you’ll need to make sure that you have dedicated career pages on your website. 

Jag shares his pointers on how to get started to build your online employer brand:

  1. Define your Employee Value Proposition (EVP) – Start by creating your EVP.  Once you have defined this, it will help you to create your social media content pillars, e.g., case studies, vacancies, etc.  Remember, tone of voice in content is critical. Ensure is bias free and speaks directly to both a female and male audience. Another great way to promote your company culture is through photos and videos, perhaps showing any company events or initiatives and showcasing the female talent you already employ. You could also showcase flagship projects your company has been involved in.  If you have a diversity and inclusion policy, also make sure you include this.
  2. Define your target audience – what is your ideal type of employee for your business? Who would provide the right company fit?  What skills do they need? What kind of person are they and what do they value? Where are they, geographically? (On this last point, it is possible that the Covid pandemic has changed employee expectations, in terms of flexibility and home working, so any recruiter will want to consider this, if appropriate for their business). So, similar to buyer personas, you can actually create employee personas. Knowing who your target audience and understanding how females and males may differ will make your targeting more accurate and effective. 
  3. Recruit through social media channels – companies can use both organic posts and paid advertising to recruit candidates.  If you use LinkedIn premium, you can also message prospective employees directly.   LinkedIn has a few recruitment advertising options which you can utilise:  e.g., jobs, follower and spotlight ads.   Your choice of ads will depend on what your recruitment objective is. 
  4. Create a careers section on your website – this sounds obvious, butit’s amazing how many construction companies don’t even have a dedicated careers section.  These are pages where you can add employee advocacy, use female role models, or list the benefits, such as the fantastic opportunities for travel it can afford; as many find themselves working all over the UK, and possibly even abroad.  Show your vacancies, use videos, podcasts, and more importantly, capture leads by asking users to sign-up.   If you build a database of leads, you can also keep in touch with them through regular emails. You can also make use of chatbots to engage with your users.
  5. Collect and analyse data – tools such as Google Analytics, Google Search Console, LinkedIn Campaign Manager Insights will all provide useful data to inform your digital marketing strategies.  Data is so important in the digital marketing world, collect it, analyse it and refine your strategy. If you witness more males viewing your content, review it and understand how to attract a female audience. Remember, if something isn’t working, you don’t need to be afraid to change it. 

The global pandemic has accelerated the shift to digital, now is more important than ever to have a strong online presence. Regardless of the size of your business, make sure that you don’t get left behind.  Investing in digital tools are key to hiring the top talent.                 

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