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How to find per diem construction labor quickly


The construction labor market is tightening fast. The data is clear that we are heading toward a labor shortage. The only question is when will impact each of us? Finding enough qualified skilled labor will be a challenge for most construction project in the coming weeks and months. Whether your projects require local labor or traveling skilled construction labor, this article will address the key steps for filling your open construction jobs when you have an urgent need.

Before we get into dealing with urgent labor needs, it’s important to note that the best way to deal with construction labor is to execute a plan before you have an urgent need. We’ve previously written an article on the best practices for how to proactively build a construction labor strategy. Check out at that article, there’s a lot of good information in there and it gives step by info on how to get ahead of construction labor challenges.


Should my construction company use traveling labor?

There are two reasons to consider traveling construction labor. The first is that the project requires traveling labor. This could be due to the location of the project, the skill sets required and / or the number of people required. These are the conventional reasons that construction companies utilize traveling construction labor. 

The other reason to consider traveling construction labor is to expand your labor pool. Many companies that rely on local labor will be looking for options to find people. When this source of labor runs dry, it may be time to look to other parts of the country for the right people. By searching non-local areas your construction labor pool can be increased significantly.

One of the benefits of considering traveling construction labor is that they’ll go just about anywhere. The location of the job is not a problem for this group. Another benefit is that most traveling construction labor are looking for a temporary assignment. This group travels for construction jobs that pay per diem – so by definition they aren’t looking for a full time job.


How fragmented is the construction labor market?

To understand how to find construction labor, you must first understand the characteristics of the market. The construction labor market is large, with about 7.5 million people currently employed. In terms of historic numbers, today’s employment level is among the largest number of people that have ever been employed in construction in the United States. So, there are lots of people out there in the workforce, more than at almost any time in our nation’s history.

Those construction labor numbers are a good thing. It’s encouraging news for construction companies looking to recruit construction labor. Yet the challenge still facing construction companies is finding ways to effectively recruit those 7.5 million people.

The challenge becomes more difficult because the construction labor market is extremely fragmented. There’s no one place to go find all these people. The construction labor market fragmentation reflects an industry that is built on small, niche companies. In the United States there are approximately 860,000 construction companies. This means the average construction company employs less than ten (10) people each.

These companies work in a variety of sub-industries and geographies, with the result being a workforce that is hard to reach by using most conventional approaches. There is no one silver bullet to go find the right construction labor force for your company. This means your recruiting plan must include a multi-channel approach to getting your message out. In other words, to address this fragmented labor market, your message must be consistent and distributed across several platforms and mediums. The days of posting a “help wanted” ad in the newspaper are long gone!


What does a multi-channel construction labor recruiting mean?

Think about the ideal skilled trades people that you’re looking for.

Who are they? Are they currently employed or unemployed? Are the skilled trades people that you’re looking for on their phones a lot during the day? Are they more likely to make a phone call than open an app? Are they finding out about work by word of mouth? Are they looking to social media for potential jobs? Do they hear about jobs from email blasts? Are they checking out multiple construction companies’ job boards? Are they reading newspapers or magazines?

The answer to each of those questions is ‘yes’ for some of the people you’re looking for and ‘no’ for others. In other words, there isn’t one answer. The result is that you should be getting the message of your open jobs out in several ways. The more channels the better. Here are some options that you should be considering.

  • Traditional job posts. Post your open jobs to your company’s job board. Make your job board a reliable destination for construction skilled trades looking for work to find open jobs. So long as your website is known by potential construction skilled trades people and your site engine optimization (SEO) is dialed in, you should get good traffic to your job board. Also, look to industry specific job boards. These boards will post construction jobs and have a good chance of helping drive better traffic to your jobs and then finding the people that are looking for work. Job boards that aggregate multiple companies’ jobs can draw a lot of attention to your open positions.
  • Direct messaging. If you’ve read our article on building a construction labor strategy that works, you understand construction labor recruiting funnels. The top of the funnel is about building your candidate list. Whether you’ve followed our advice or not, if you have a list of former employees or people that have reached out to your company looking for employment, this is a powerful place to start. This can be done via email, text message or phone calls.
  • Social media campaigns. Does your company have social media sites with followers? This is a great way to maximize those accounts. Use your existing social channels to get a message out to large groups of people in a hurry. Without spending a dime on marketing, you can notify people that you are looking to hire.
  • Social media groups. Don’t have good social media followings on your own? No problem, there’s a shortcut. Check out existing communities and groups that you can join and help get your message out. For example, Facebook has lots of existing groups that can allow you to get your message out to people looking for work. There are groups that specialize on certain skilled trades, certain geographic locations, and certain project types. Spending time to understand the groups that are existing can be very helpful for finding construction skilled labor.
  • Most other industries figured out the power of advertising long ago. Construction has not been as fast to understand the power of advertising. Sure, you can waste money and time putting ads in the wrong place. With a little bit of research, however, you can quickly get your job opportunities in front of lots of qualified construction skilled labor candidates. Look for opportunities to advertise in places that the construction labor force you’re looking for are spending their time. This doesn’t even have to be construction specific sites. For example, at Road Dog Jobs we know that there’s a significant interest among construction skilled labor and, for example, used pickup trucks. Is there a dealer or site that is selling used diesel pickup trucks? Try putting an ad on their site.


What steps can I take for finding construction labor?

Assuming you’re paying competitively, the goal is to get your jobs in front of construction skilled labor. That said, it’s very likely that not enough qualified people know that you’re hiring. Even the biggest most sophisticated construction companies can have trouble with recruiting.  

To make matters worse, in a constrained labor market (which we’re currently in) most people are employed, and those people are not currently looking to find the next job. This makes the task of finding the right people becomes even more difficult. It means the burden is on you and your company to find better ways to get your message if front of the right people. Use multiple channels to get your open jobs seen by as many of the right people as possible.

There are also some concrete actions that you can take to make sure your open jobs are getting attention.

  1. Update your job postings. We wrote an article that outlines eleven (11) pieces of critical information that job seekers are looking for. Make sure this information is addressed in a way that people looking for jobs can easily understand.
  2. Review your pay rates. Higher pay rates will get more attention. Review whether your jobs are paying a competitive wage as compared to others in the industry. Your pay rates don’t need to blow away the competition (although that helps) but they need to be in the range of most other jobs. If you’re really in a pinch, paying at the upper end of the pay range can get attention quickly.
  3. Review your per diem rates. With per diem being tax free money, this is a very attractive part of the compensation package for job seekers. Updating your per diem rates, or the number of days per week that you’re paying can help attract people. So long as you keep your per diem rates within the government ranges, paying higher per diem rates can definitely attract skilled labor to your jobs.
  4. Consider sign on bonuses. Some companies will pay a bonus to new hires when they accept a position. These payments can be a few hundred dollars or even a few thousand dollars. The higher the amount the more attention your jobs will get.
  5. Take advantage of attention getting job posts. Not all job posts are created equal. On most job posting sites there are ways to improve the reach of your job. This can be done in a variety of ways, but one method is to upgrade your job posts so that it stays at the top of the job board. Jobs that sit higher on the board get more attention, more applications and higher success rates. Find ways to upgrade your jobs so they sit higher on the board and therefore get more attention.
  6. Engage with “influencers” in the industry. Many of the best construction skilled trades people are not looking for work and never are. The only way to find these people to get their attention is to know who to talk to. The construction industry is full of people who have big networks and can help find people for open jobs. Maybe some of these people are currently on your payroll. Find them, ask them for help.
  7. Get your message onto large distribution email lists. There are some email newsletters and messaging campaigns that you can use to get your jobs better exposure.


What can Road Dog Jobs do when you need people urgently?

If you’re in the market for traveling skilled trades people, Road Dog Jobs offer a lot of options. From premium job upgrades that get 4X the traffic to social media campaigns, to targeted messaging services, the folks at Road Dog Jobs are experts in getting open jobs attention. Reach out to hello@roaddogjobs.com if you’re looking for help or some options to help you fill jobs quickly.

Best of luck in recruiting the traveling construction skilled trades for your jobs that pay per diem.