With construction cranes gracing the skies again, the search for talent is heating up in the Bay Area, says RE recruitment firm RETS Associates principal Kent Elliott (snapped at a Cal game with son Johnny). That means staffing up with everyone: engineers, architects, project managers, construction, and development accountants. After the project’s completed, there’s a need for property managers, security guards , building engineers, day porters, etc. (We do some clowning on the side and are available most days.) “It’s a snowball effect with each development,” he says. In addition to permanent placements, he sees a lot of interim hiring, too.
The firm did 360 searches in each of 2011 and 2012. This year, it’s on track to hit 435, though he notes hiring starts to slow down around Thanksgiving (turkey wears everyone out). If you had asked Kent a year ago what types of companies are doing the most hiring, he would have said REITs, REITs, and more REITs. Those guys are still active, but there’s also a lot of activity among well-capitalized private companies and third-party service firms.
Despite so many positions to fill, Kent found time to go to Costa Rica with his family this week. He says the dynamics of the market have changed. “The candidate really has a lot more negotiating power” than 12 months ago. One client looking for a construction manager got to the altar with two prospects, neither of whom bit due to attractive counteroffers from their existing employers. The pool of highly qualified talent sitting in the unemployment line has become minuscule. Kent says 95% of the candidates RETS places “are fully employed candidates that we’re taking from one company and putting at another.”