Construction Industry Job Market: Perception vs. Reality

A multitude of options seem to be available to construction management professionals in today’s workforce, which bolsters the notion that those seeking new employment are in the driver’s seat over employers trying to hire. Is this perception accurate? And even if the choices are out there, are they as palatable as you think?

Let’s put this into perspective. Did you know that 46.4% of U.S. adults are single according to the U.S. Census Bureau? That’s 117.6 million unmarried Americans – nearly every other adult aged 18 and over. This includes those who are divorced or widowed as well as those who have never married. Yet those who want to get married, according to an article in Psychology Today from 2022, despite wanting a lifelong committed relationship, may be becoming overwhelmed from the choice overload with their decisions in the process, and therefore making wrong relationship choices.  The article notes the following:

“In our current dating culture, we always seem to want more—more matches, more messages, more dates. However, true success in online dating is more likely to come from the quality of connections than from the quantity of options.”

Career matchmaking involves many of these same obstacles.

There seem to be many good online choices for jobs and companies, but in actuality, the job and company do not match the description posted online.

Candidates or companies that interview multiple people may also experience “memory confabulations”, misremembering details of their potential employment matches.

Just as dating profiles and initial conversations can produce false expectations for dating, candidates and companies tend to set expectations of one another before an interview takes place. False employment expectations can range from preconceived compensation ranges to image, dedication and even ability. Once preconceived notions are in place, even if the candidate becomes a new hire, the chances of long- term employment together is tainted by a seed of doubt stemming from unaddressed concerns.

In addition, just like dating prospects that have been ‘married’ several times before, prospective candidates that lack tenure in employment can elicit caution with respect to a potential match. Especially when the company is looking for stability, not to mention stirring anxiety in the person themselves with fear of failure again.

Critical thinking is necessary to eliminate or overcome false-expectations, and uncover reality. Ask yourself before you interview:

1.  Are you ready to take a new job?

If you are unhappy at your current job, just getting a new job can’t be the source of your happiness. Trying to make yourself happy with new business relationships will set you up for failure if you expect your new employer and associates to make you happy.

In order to find happiness at your new place of employment, you first need to be able to define your purpose, and know how that purpose supports the team that you will be joining.

“True happiness… is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” ―Helen Keller

2.  What are you looking for in an employment match?

It’s important to write your criteria out so you can really see it and imagine what an employer who meets all those criteria would be like.

3.  What are all the specific traits that make the company/employer attractive to you?

Your list should cover three areas, including your standards for knowledge, performance and growth compatibility.

Continue with critical thinking during the interview process: Ask yourself:

  • Do You Meet Your Future Employer’s Standards?
  • Do you meet their standards for knowledge, performance and growth compatibility? 

A successful employment relationship occurs when you both are good matches for each other, not just when one person is a good match for the other.

Unfortunately, when you meet someone who fits your criteria, your vision often gets clouded, which leads you get preoccupied with wanting to be employed with them. You avoid the thought that you might not be as great a fit for them as they are for you. You may even try to be someone you’re not, just to try to conform to the company’s standards.

Trying to make things work this way is like trying to force a square block through a round hole. When it doesn’t work, you may start to wonder if there’s something wrong with you. There isn’t—you just don’t fit their criteria and should not have committed to taking the job in the first place.

4.  What Are They Really Like?

We all try to put our best selves forward on the first interview just like people try to do on the first date. Multiple interviews, just like multiple dates, are how you figure out what the people and company is really like and whether you make a good team.

When you like someone or something meeting your criteria, you’re prone to pretending you’re someone else to fit their standards. This can happen with both the interviewer and the interviewee, and it doesn’t necessarily occur purposely.

Rather, it means that when we interview or date, we naturally try to put forward the best version of ourselves. It may not be an entirely different person, just a particular version or side of us. We’ll wear our best shirts, watch our manners more closely, and keep quiet about our more embarrassing thoughts and habits.

“If everyone is presenting their best selves, how do you get to know their real selves? How long will it be before you see their worst selves? How do you figure out if the people you’re seeing really fit your criteria, or if they’re just trying to be someone they’re not, in order to please you?”

This is what interviewing is for, just as dating over time helps you see the potential partner in all sorts of different environments and situations, and see how they respond to them. From those responses, you get to see what they’re like and build your mental picture of what life would be like with them. Interview schedules, over a period of time, that include visits to jobsites, time in the main office, and even time together over a meal can demonstrate personality traits that may not reveal themselves otherwise.

You should enjoy the interview process, just as you should enjoy dating.  However, you should also be using dating to assess how well you work together as a team. You should be asking yourself, “Is this really how this company and the people are? Is this how they’ll be later? Do I want to be their part of their team?”

If you are not achieving your career goals and need help through the critical thinking process we are a phone call or email to away.

To Finding Your Reality,

Suzanne Breistol



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