Construction professionals are known for their technical proficiency and specialized craft skillsets. However, companies also put a premium on soft skills when hiring new employees. What are they, and which ones matter?
Soft skills are personality traits needed to excel at work. Common soft skills can be applicable in all professions. In contrast, hard skills are the technical knowledge and abilities for a specific profession, acquired through education and formal training.
Hiring managers in the construction business value soft skills as much as hard ones. They understand that the success of every project depends on who the professionals behind it are as people and not just what they can do.
What specific soft skills are useful in the construction industry? Here are the most desirable personal qualities of sought-after pros and how they relate to construction.
Asking the right questions, proactively expressing ideas, clearly articulating thoughts in spoken and written forms, and relaying information to relevant parties promptly make someone an asset.
Having stellar communication skills helps minimize confusion among the team and keep everybody on the same page to promote productivity and safety.
No construction pro works on an island. Being a reliable team player matters in ensuring steady work progress. No one can single-handedly achieve the company’s goals, so all project management staff or construction crew members must work together harmoniously instead of flying solo.
Tight deadlines are synonymous with construction projects. Being punctual and focusing on work during company time is essential to complete tasks accordingly and prevent holdups that will bog down others.
Being organized in a hazardous working environment can save lives. Organization can apply to both physical items, such as proper storage materials and tools – called “housekeeping” in construction – as well as mental organization of tasks and responsibilities.
Good organization contributes to productivity and efficiency. Keeping a tidy workspace, prioritizing the right tasks, giving clear instructions, and maintaining accurate records ensures critical jobs get done safely, on schedule and within budget.
Construction work leaves no room for error. Approaching tasks with fastidious care eliminates the need to redo the job more than once. This saves the company time and money, reduces material waste and prevents struck-by accidents — the cause of about 10% of all deaths industrywide.
Real workplace challenges differ from textbook scenarios. It’s usual to encounter unique issues requiring creative, logical solutions. Thinking outside the box and solving dilemmas with no straightforward answers makes someone indispensable.
The best problem-solvers are individually brilliant but know the limits of their abilities. They go to the right people for advice and use others’ expert opinions to make sound decisions.
Construction activity is prone to disruption. Late material delivery, broken equipment and flash floods are some contingencies that can impede typical workflows. Despite this, the world doesn’t stop spinning just because something hinders work progress.
Everyone must acclimatize to the situation, rearrange their tasks and pick up where they left off when everyone goes back to normal. Adaptation is the cure for idleness, so adjusting quickly to commence work is necessary.
It’s also imperative to be super adaptive when running a construction operation. Many success stories attest that reacting to demand can turn contracts worth a few thousand dollars into $15 million deals.
This skill requires using all available resources to maximum effect to achieve project objectives and deliver quality results. It comes in handy when things don’t go as planned.
Quickly procuring materials from other sources when the vendor falls short of expectations and finding local construction equipment rental providers when machinery breaks are terrific displays of resourcefulness.
Construction companies value people who like to stay updated on what’s happening in the industry because it demonstrates care and commitment to the business. Tuning in to relevant news and staying current with the latest trends — like bamboo, kelp, and hemp-derived plastics and copper wiring repurposing — allow employees to join or even lead conversations on various topics meaningfully. Forming opinions based on fresh facts can also impress the higher-ups.
Healthy commercial awareness can hone other soft skills. Being familiar with events affecting the construction business can aid problem-solving, adaptability and resourceful thinking while adopting new productivity tools early can improve communication, collaboration, time management, organization and attention to detail.
The construction industry is in a state of evolution. Innovative methods — like 3D resin printing — are retiring outdated practices, and advanced machines are rendering some traditional tools obsolete. Tech-driven companies want employees who are comfortable with change and willing to learn new technical skills.
Strong leadership skills are a nonnegotiable requirement for assuming supervisory and managerial roles and moving up the corporate ladder quickly.
Motivating the team to crush goals boosts company profits and drives down expenses. Leaders are compelling communicators and effective delegators, making them highly persuasive and productive. Inspiring others to act accordingly and accomplishing more with less time are remarkable abilities that construction firms esteem.
Construction is a high-risk, high-pressure profession. Managing emotions, stress and feelings of anxiety and burnout in a healthy way is necessary to sustain and thrive in such an intense business.
Many construction professionals lack adequate soft skills to succeed in their careers. Fortunately, everyone becomes good at them through practice.
Setting realistic goals, seeking honest feedback and taking advantage of training opportunities are the best practices construction students should develop and polish before graduation.