How to navigate the challenges of fulfilling local hiring goals

Although many construction projects have been delayed due to COVID-19 restrictions, plenty of projects continue and their staffing needs remain crucial.

Some ongoing construction projects—such as those funded by the government—come with built-in restrictions that make them even more challenging to fulfill. States and other jurisdictions that hire construction contractors often set quotas to ensure that local residents get priority in hiring.

For most construction firms, this demands a two-pronged approach: identifying local workers with the abilities needed to meet local hiring metrics, supplemented by a workforce of remote workers using per diem budgets.

How should your firm navigate these challenges and ensure it’s sourcing qualified talent for your project? Below, find six tips to help your firm reach its hiring goals.

1. Get Referrals From Current Employees

Many companies offer financial incentives to current employees who refer successful new hires, operating on the theory that the best workers usually know other good workers. This is a great place to start the recruiting process, since word of mouth is often the most credible marketing technique you can have.

2. Reach Out to Local Students

Local community colleges and technical schools are invested in helping their graduates find jobs. See if you can work with them to conduct mock interviews, offer job shadowing opportunities or otherwise help students prepare to enter the workforce.

In addition to helping you meet potential candidates and find out what they’re looking for, it can give you a recruiting advantage over your competition.

3. Look for Skill Adjacencies

Recruit workers who have similar or adjacent skill sets. This approach allows you to “grow your own talent.” You are also upskilling members of the local labor market by helping them become more qualified for a broad range of jobs.

Employers may note that it’s difficult to find the time and resources needed to train workers on the job. But having to turn down work, failing to complete a project or suffering a backlog because of understaffing can be even more costly.

4. Emphasize Your Company’s Safety Culture

In addition to providing a superior work environment, companies that prioritize safety and health on the jobsite by following Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines can build a reputation for valuing their employees. This can be a key differentiator when competing against other employers.

5. Offer Retention Bonuses

Ensuring that your entire workforce stays through the end of your project is crucial to your success. Many employers offer a substantial “project completion bonus” to ensure higher retention. This can also be a smart recruiting move.

6. Outline Career Paths

Most new employees understand the concept of working their way up the ladder, but it can help to explain what that looks like in your world. Someone interviewing for a general labor position may be interested in learning more about project management or field work. Help them see how getting a foot in the door can help them in their long-term career.

Recruiting Qualified Workers From Different Areas

You may face a strictly geographic challenge—there aren’t enough specialized workers within commuting distance to fill the required positions. Although contractors may be able to source a certain number of local workers, it is likely that sourcing workers from outside the hiring market will be necessary to fill the volume of positions needed. You may find that some skill sets will be more prevalent in certain areas—concentrate your recruiting efforts there.


One of the biggest challenges for many employers in hiring those workers is the necessity of implementing a complex per diem payment program to reimburse living expenses for those workers. Consider outsourcing this function if your internal resources aren’t experienced in per diem programs, since the legal risks for noncompliance can be substantial.


Building a local-first team means uncovering every opportunity to recruit the best workers possible. By tapping new labor pools, training existing workers and being creative with your strategy, you can alleviate any staffing concerns.