Estimators are the cornerstone of any successful heavy civil construction company. Without a talented estimator, the possibility of creating and maintaining a feasible project budget goes out the window. Good estimators are self-starters who are capable of making important decisions surrounding budget costs with limited information. They need to work well individually as well as on a team, and communicate closely with construction managers, planners and design teams. But with such a lengthy list of responsibilities and qualifications, how can you hire a great estimator?
Your first step is to clearly detail out the hiring process you plan to use when looking for new talent. Be sure to indicate which existing roles are in charge of drafting the job description, reviewing applications, interviewing candidates, determining a benefits package and making the final offer. By assigning responsibilities and establishing best practices, management is not burdened with constant supervision/intervention. This process can also include onboarding tactics for when your new estimator is finally hired.
After your hiring process is finalized, begin outlining the role you need to fill. Define all the relevant attributes and skills, including both the desired qualifications as well as the personality type that will best fit with existing team members. Don’t get too specific – you want to make sure you’re not prematurely ruling out seasoned estimators, or ambitious millennials graduating from construction management programs. Weigh the pros and cons of each group when you are reviewing applications.
Take the outline you’ve created above and use it to write the posting you will circulate online, with recruiters and any other channel to attract the top talent. Use language that really sells your company to the applicant through keywords that search engines crawl for. For example, include “estimating”, “heavy civil construction”, desired software like “B2W Software”, specific work types your company performs, and “Work Breakdown Structures” to start. Include the benefits and perks your company offers, as well as the corporate culture of the office. If you can foster a feeling of excitement around the position and the company, more applicants will feel inspired to apply.
When you’ve completed creating the job description, it is time to strategize where to post it to attract the best talent. With today’s technology, online listing sites are an easy way to reach a larger pool of applicants. You can try Monster.com or Indeed, or get industry-specific with iHireConstruction or even B2W Software’s websites (see our Industry Careers page here). LinkedIn is also a great resource for leveraging social media for career opportunities. If your company’s website does not have a Careers page for job openings, talk to your marketing department about adding one. Word of mouth is also an effective way to be introduced to industry contacts that may be looking to switch roles.
When you’ve received and reviewed all of your applicants’ materials, determine who you would like to bring in for an interview. Prepare for these meetings by outlining what questions are important to ask – these could include role-specific inquiries, or be related to a certain applicant’s previous experience. Ultimately, you need to use the interview to determine if they are qualified for the position, and will they work well with the team you have in place. You may be forced to choose between someone who has a broader skillset and another who will transition onto your team more smoothly – weigh out what can be taught/learned, and what is personality-based.
Once interviews have wrapped up, you have hopefully found a candidate you are excited about and ready to make an offer to. Write an offer letter that includes the title of the role, salary and benefits, start date and any other information critical to bringing a new team member on board. When you send it to the candidate, be sure to include any other documentation that your company may require for new employees (NDAs, non-compete agreements, etc.) Be prepared for the candidate to take some time considering the offer, and possibly coming back with some terms to negotiate. The candidate may also reject the offer, and you will either extend it to the next applicant in line, or return to the interviewing process.
When the candidate does accept the offer and a start date has been put in place, it is your responsibility to create an onboarding process that will help ensure the new employee is successfully as quickly as possible. Be sure to include all relevant departments in this process so that HR has proper documentation on file and everyone is given the opportunity to meet the new employee. This process should include training on any tools the estimating department uses, documentation around existing procedures, reviewing the employee handbook and other relevant information for your company. Work with the new estimator over the course of a few months so that they are not abandoned after the first few weeks – it will take a while for them to get up to speed, and the more guidance you can give them, the more successful they will be.
By taking the time to refine your overall hiring process, you will attract the top talent and hire the best estimators in the market. With the best estimators, you can be sure that your company will be addressing what the client wants, assessing levels of project risk, preparing and submitting quotes for work and assisting with bids for new contracts – which all contribute to the company’s ultimate success.