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Understand Construction Career Cycles to Retain and Recruit Workers

Workforce Development

As we move from one phase of life to the next, our priorities naturally shift. It stands to reason then that our careers are shaped by the transitions we make in our lives. For example, the lifestyle and career goals of a 25-year-old are going to be very different from those of a 55-year-old.

Construction employers can benefit by understanding the primary goals and motivators that are guiding workers’ career decisions. There is a clear career cycle that is common among skilled construction professionals, and understanding the cycle can be useful for hiring managers who are working to create more effective recruitment and retention strategies.


The career cycle of a skilled construction professional can be divided up into three distinct phases, each tied to a specific period of life. Each phase features a different primary motivator that guides the individual in their career decisions.


A worker in the earliest phase of life will be primarily motivated by a desire for career growth. Many workers in this phase are absolutely committed to work and will prioritize work goals above all others. They will travel extensively to gain the skills and experience necessary to earn career advancement. Workers in career growth mode will be on the lookout for positions with companies where they can earn promotions at a faster rate.


A majority of workers, though not all, will shift from a career focus into a family-centered phase of life at some point. For some, this happens when they get married or when they begin to raise children. For others, this shift occurs when they become the primary caregiver for loved ones who are elderly or ill. These workers value their careers and will work for advancement opportunities, but only if those opportunities allow them to stay in the same geographic location.


Late-career candidates are motivated by the desire to maximize their income as they look toward retirement. Some may wish to begin traveling again, as their children are grown.


When construction company owners anticipate the shifting priorities of candidates and employees, they can better respond with opportunities designed to attract or retain the workers they need.

Pay attention to signals that an employee’s priorities are shifting, and respond accordingly. For instance, if an early stage worker who has been traveling heavily signals that they are ready to settle down and start a family, then finding a job that will allow them to stay in one geographic area for a long period of time may be their goal. Try to match workers with jobs that will help them fulfill their goals. It is critical for construction employers to keep lines of communication open with both candidates and current employees.

Taking steps to understand these construction career cycles can help employers achieve more success with their retention and recruitment strategies. Once a construction company owner recognizes these cycles, they can identify the primary motivators for their workforce based on each employee’s current career phase. And they can offer new opportunities that fit with future career phases as employees transition from one to another.


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