by Eric Cordova
I still remember how I felt in my first week as a recruiter. Excited, confident, yet extremely overwhelmed, I walked in to my first firm to find out that I would be on the Construction Recruiting Team. This was unknown to me before that moment, and it immediately struck me how much I needed to learn.
Coming from a sales background, I felt that the skill of recruiting would be somewhat translatable and in a way, it was, but that was only part of the battle. The other part, was becoming a subject matter expert (SME). This was to be my challenge, and sitting with one of my managers, that became extremely clear.
This manager grew up in construction. His father was in upper management for a construction firm in New Jersey, and his brothers worked for the company. I was taken back by the ease with which he “talked shop” with his clients, and it surprised me little that he gained their trust quickly. Our first role play was an exercise in leaving a voicemail, and the detail with which he did that led me to a weekend of studying my field, determined to be the subject matter expert that I felt I needed to be.
Eventually I grew comfortable “talking shop” as well, and I knew that it helped in my recruiting efforts. What I did not realize though, was just how little I actually knew. I was using the right words and SOUNDING pretty good, but it wasn’t until I left that firm to head up the Talent Recruitment efforts of a prominent construction management firm that I found out just how much I did not know.
No matter how many meetings you go on, or how many sites you walk through with a superintendent or project executive, none of that taught me nearly as much about my field as living it in that CM firm. I used to ask candidates and clients alike about their participation in RFPs (Requests for Proposal), but in my second week at the firm, I was directly involved in that process from the New York City Housing Authority. I learned how to read blueprints with our School Construction Authority teams, I watched our project managers process RFIs (Requests for Information) and change orders on Primavera (Construction Management Software), and I sat with our program directors as they put together budgets for these large-scale programs.
While I still cannot claim that I ever built a building myself, I was now directly responsible for building the teams that built our schools, low-income housing projects, and hospitals. More importantly, when I “talked shop,” I no longer was just saying words to sound like I knew what I was talking about……I actually knew what I was talking about!
The time I spent with the CM firm transformed me as an agency recruiter. Returning to that world with Lloyd Staffing, I felt different than when I left it. I felt…real – I could be authentic with my clients and talent alike. Previously, when someone would say “talk to Eric, he’s the expert!,” I would confidently use my industry words to prove them right, but inside, I felt a bit of an imposter syndrome.
Today my professional life is totally different. I know that I am part of the AEC world because I have lived in that world directly. And taking that lived-in experience back to Lloyd has provided me with the ability to connect with many clients and candidates much more seamlessly. When a client comes to me and we speak about the bid process, I have lived it, just as they have. When they speak about closeouts and punch lists, I have seen them first hand, right beside supers and project managers. I feel less like an imposter and more like the expert I always longed to be!
One of the things that drew me to Lloyd in the first place was the firm’s subject matter expertise in their core disciplines. If a client asks me to help them recruit a Controller, I personally don’t take that search on – instead, I proudly refer them to my colleague who specializes in that field and is a SME himself. I encourage anyone who is hiring or looking for new employment to seek out a recruitment professional with expertise in that industry. You will find they can provide valuable insights into the current job market and workplace trends. They will identify in-demand skills and connect you with potential employers that align with your career goals. Additionally, a specialized recruiter can provide guidance on industry-specific interview questions, compensation expectations, and company culture. They have a network of industry contacts and can open doors that might otherwise be closed.
I invested in myself by learning, putting the time in and intentionally developing my expertise. I welcome new connections from employers and candidates. I can tell you from experience that knowing an industry from the inside, is very different than recruiting for it from the outside.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Eric Cordova is a Recruiter specializing in Architecture, Construction, and Engineering talent for Lloyd. His recruitment career experience includes both staffing agency and in-house construction management talent initiatives. He joined Lloyd a year ago and is highly visible on the AEC front. His talent pipeline is deep and robust and his employer connections are some of the Metro NY area’s finest firms. Eric welcomes new connections on LinkedIn and talking shop, as well as a good conversation about sports and professional wrestling!
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