November 2019 Talent & Industry Insights

The construction, civil and rail industries continue to drive the Victorian and New South Wales economies with record investment/projects however their is a multi-layered micro-economy under the surface with some companies performing very well with others struggling. The only tangible differentiator is people. With margin pressure constant in this market, never has there been a more critical time to have the right people in the right roles.

To talk in basketball terms, teams (businesses) need to have a strong front court, strong back court and also bench depth. Once you have the correct team assembled, inspired coaching/leadership come to the forefront to ensure that the assembled roster perform to the desired standards. Scouting of future opponents (projects) and analysis of past performance’s then lay the foundations for continuous improvement.

There are many distractions in the marketplace and many people (or recruiters) sell themselves/people as the best option, but make sure you do your homework and you are working with true business partners who are looking to develop/maintain strong mutually beneficial relationships as opposed to getting their next commission cheque.

There is some excellent talent appearing in the marketplace, so now is the time to ensure you have the right mix of mature, developing and raw talent in your team’s.


February Infrastructure Update

The Civil Construction is beginning to hit it’s straps with Victoria and NSW leading the charge! However, with plenty of activity in the marketplace’s pressure on risk management, staff attraction/retention and business financial performance has never been greater.

Is it critical that employer’s dedicate the right level of due diligence in the recruitment process to ensure that the focus is not on getting a bum in the seat but rather on securing the right level of talent for the business. With current conditions only projected to get tighter, this pressure is only going to increase. Achieving the balance of needs vs. skill is going to be key for success.

Since Australia Day, Talent Associates have seen a huge increase in vacancies and recruitment activity in the Civil Construction industry. There are good people out there who are entering the marketplaces from interstate and overseas and also other’s who are disenchanted with their current arrangements. In particular proven project managers, commercial managers, project engineers and estimators are highly sought currently. In addition, strong operations managers with both soft skills and commercial skills are highly in demand.

Talent Associates have supported the Civil Construction industry for over 20 years and we remain committed to partnering with the industry to ensure that you receive a knowledgeable, ethical and dedicated recruitment service. We now provide contract staff on hourly, daily or weekly rates (with unlimited capability), executive search and permanent recruitment services.

May 2018 – Vic Infrastructure Update

The Infrastructure marketplace in Victoria is bustling with activity and opportunities. Major projects such as the Metro Tunnel, Westgate Tunnel, Southern Program Alliance and Melbourne’s third runway, continue to ramp up whilst new projects enter the fray. But when we dig deeper into the industry, we are in uncharted territory in terms of current works in hand and also upcoming projects.

  • The recent state budget offered just over $9 billion funding of projects, including $4.3bn for regional  roads, $1.9bn for rail, $2.2bn for roads in North/South-East and $704m for regional transport projects.
  • The federal budget allocated a $7.8 billion dollars of funding for road and rail projects with highlights including injecting funds into North-East link and two new rail lines.

Never has the Infrastructure industry in Victoria looked so good, but the challenge for all, will be the acquisition of staff/labour, retaining existing staff and managing the major growth in salary packages. Already we are seeing huge increases in salary and scarcity of talent.

Having been at the forefront of the recruitment sector for infrastructure for 20 years, Talent Associates are very well positioned to keep you informed of new talent to the marketplace and keep you abreast of the latest trends. We partner with clients, don’t scatter-gun resumes and more importantly work with industry/employers/candidates to secure great outcomes.

July 2017 Infrastructure Update

What an amazing few months we have had in the Australian Civil Construction industry with huge announcements across Australia on major projects as our industry is about to crank up to yet another gear!

Demand for experienced personnel across the industry continues to grow with everyone from tier 1 majors to small family owned subcontractors all looking to take advantage of the upswing in activity and/or to service existing needs. We are starting to see significant pressures on salary levels across the market as companies compete for scarce resources and major projects ramp up their thirst for resources.

Just a sample of some industry news;

  • The Melbourne Metro Tunnel (Vic) – Preferred consortium for tunnel & stations announced being; Cross Yarra Partnership (Lendlease Engineering, John Holland, Bouygues Construction and Capella Capital).
  • Westconnex M4-M5 Link (NSW) – $7.247bn, two consortium’s shortlisted for bid.
  • West Gate Tunnel (Vic) – Preferred consortium announced; headlined by John Holland and CPB Contractors.
  • Northern Gas Pipeline (NT) – Construction has commenced
  • Haughton River Floodplain Upgrade (QLD) – Shortlisted tenderers announced
  • Ballarat Rail Line Upgrade (Vic) – Lend Lease, Coleman Rail and SMEC named as the preferred bidder
  • Murray Basin Rail Project (Vic) – McConnell Dowell & Martinus Rail preferred Contractor
  • Sydney Metro Tunnel (NSW) – John Holland, CPB and Ghella awarded contract
  • New South Wales – Committing up to $72.7b to infrastructure investments over the next 4 years.
  • Vic Country Rail – $1.52bn announced in Vic Country Rail project

Talent Associates continue to be at the forefront of the provision of recruitment services across the Civil Construction industry and provide a highly knowledge & ethical service to our clients. If we can assist with any recruitment requirements please don’t hesitate to contact us.


March 2017 – Infrastructure Update

The Civil Construction industry in Victoria continues to go from strength with most areas of the marketplace being extremely busy and also talent poor. Areas of the market that we are seeing the most demand for high quality candidates is across rail, roads, land development and commercial civil. The most in demand area’s for staff currently seem to be Site/Project Engineers and also Foreman/Supervisors.

In busy times, we encourage companies to stay vigilant in their background checking of prospective employees as we are seeing a lot of companies compromising on the level of talent they are employing to fill seats which in turn is hurting them with employee turnover and financial outcomes on projects. The industry is very busy but there are also quality people seeking new opportunities in the market.

In terms of major project activity across the country it is huge! Major works are due to begin on the $10.9bn Metro tunnel in April, the Turnbull government have announced a $2bn Upgrade of Snowy Hydro scheme, the $500 million 10-year Midland Highway Action Plan is now being fast-tracked in Tasmania, the $400 million Ipswich Motorway Upgrade from Rocklea to Darra Stage 1 has been shortlisted to two bidders, SA have announced have announced a $12.1 billion spend on infrastructure and the RFT for the $500m Ballarat Line upgrade has been announced. The $800m Northern Gas Pipeline in now back up for grabs, $400m has been approved for federal funding for the Mackay Ring Road, an EOI has hit the market for the next 7.9km section of M80 upgrade and the green light has been given for the $3bn Split Bridge tunnel in Sydney.

Interview Tips

Interviews range from conversations lasting a few minutes to several formal meetings, sometimes with more than one interviewer. The interview process allows you to demonstrate that you are the right candidate for the job.

Do your research 

The better prepared you are, the more relaxed and comfortable you will be when the interview questions begin. The following offers a few interview tips and suggestions on ways to refine your interview technique.

Before the interview, it is a good idea to gather information about the organisation that has the position vacant and try to relate your experience to the specific duties of the job opportunity available. You can search for the organisation online for more information, and view their website for more detailed news and insight into its culture. Websites such as Glassdoor can also provide further information about an organisation.

You can also use social media to gain greater insights that will help you prepare for your interview. But don’t be tempted to send a LinkedIn connection or Facebook friend request to your interviewer. Instead, it is perfectly acceptable to research your interviewer on social media, provided you focus on:

• Determining how her or his role relates to the role you have applied for – this can give you a better idea of how to focus your answers, for example on the technical aspects or on the implementation process.
• The culture of the organisation – you can get a feel for the type of person who is likely to excel in the organisation.
• Projects and clients – you can go into your interview understanding the type of projects or clients the organisation works on and with.
• 1st degree connections in common – you can check if you have any former work colleagues in common. If you do, ask if they can tell you anything more about the company.
• Published blogs or articles – read any published blogs or articles written by your interviewer. It’ll give you an insight into his or her point of view on current industry trends.
• Comments – you can comment on one or two of her or his industry-related blog posts. If you make an insightful comment your interviewer may recognise your name when it comes time for your interview, but don’t overdo it.

Plan ahead

Well before the interview you should also:

• Practice interviewing. Enlist a friend (better yet, a group of friends and colleagues) to ask you sample questions. Practice making eye contact.
• Video record your practice sessions. Pay attention to body language and verbal presentation. Eliminate verbal fillers, like “uh,” and “um.” Practice using positive body language to signal confidence, even when you’re not feeling it.
• Handle logistics early. Have your clothes, resume, and directions to the interview site ready ahead of time, to avoid any extra stress.
• Make sure you’ll look the part. Look, act and dress professionally. Ideally, a business suit should be worn. Clean shoes, clean finger nails and clean well groomed hair are important. If wearing a black or very dark suit, make sure there is no dandruff or specks of fluff on the shoulder.

Understand behavioural interviewing

To get to the motivations and working style of a potential employee, interviewers often turn to behavioural interviewing, an interviewing style that aims to establishing your core competencies relevant to the role, such as teamwork, creativity and innovation, decision making ability, business awareness or conflict resolution. The interviewer will be looking for examples of past behaviour that demonstrate these competencies.

Sample behavioural interview questions include:

• Describe a situation in which you didn’t meet your stated goal. How did you handle it?
• Tell us about a situation in which you encountered resistance from key people. How did you convince the person or people to do what you wanted?
• Describe a situation in which you took the initiative to change a process or system and make it better. How did you identify the problem? How did you go about instituting change?

Before the interview ask your recruiter or go through the job description to understand the core competencies relevant to the role. For each, memorise one or two examples from your most recent roles that demonstrate your abilities and successes in each area.

During the interview

To be on the safe side, bring a spare copy of your resume to the interview. We advise arriving at least ten minutes early as interviewers are unimpressed by lateness and will rarely accept excuses from prospective employees.

A firm (but not bone crunching) handshake with a big smile will do wonders when you first meet your interviewer. Some small chit chat from the reception area to the interview room will also help. These are the vital seconds (not minutes) in making your first impression.

Body language and other forms of non-verbal communication are important elements in the way an interviewee performs. Appearing relaxed and trying to act naturally is easier said than done but good appearance is mostly a matter of assuming a position that you are comfortable with.

We suggest sitting up straight, leaning forward slightly and always maintaining good eye contact with the interviewer or panel. Looking disinterested will limit your options.

If offered a drink this can help and can be used as a prop to perhaps give you some time to answer a difficult question. By accepting a drink it does show that you are fairly confident and reasonably relaxed.

Interview questions

Always treat the interview as a two way discussion and answer questions honestly, directly and keep to the point. Everyone present will be focusing their attention on you, so clouding your answer with jargon or evading the issue will be more obvious than you think. If you are not certain about a particular question, do not be afraid to ask if it can be rephrased. Listen, never interrupt and answer only what is asked.

There are common questions which arise in most job interviews, and while you should be prepared, try not to rehearse answers that are too precise. We suggest a better approach is to work on broad subject areas that are likely to come up during the interview.

Some of these areas include:

General background – Often the first question is a request for a summary of your background. People applying for their first job should focus on extra curricular activities, education, and qualifications. It is quite acceptable to repeat major points you have outlined in your resume or letter of application.
Qualifications – A specific question often asked is “Why do you think you are qualified for this position?” Qualifications, in this context, mean all qualifications which could make you suitable for the position including educational, employment-related and personal. In most cases, this may be the question that will win or lose you the job, so your answer needs to be clear and memorable.
Experience – Here is where your research pays off. Your answer should include details about relevant employment, community or educational experience and a discussion of the nature of the industry, the organisation and the position itself.
Reasons for applying – If you are applying for your first, or one of your first jobs, your answer should describe what you find appealing about the position, how you prepared yourself for a career in the organisation and how you believe your present job equips you for the position in question.
Career objectives – Be ready to discuss your long-term aspirations. Your best approach is one that indicates you have thought about your career in these terms and have taken some action towards realising your ambitions.
Crisis management – In some organisations, employers give candidates questions designed to test their ability in situations or crises. You should try to find out the most common type of dilemma for employees in the job you are seeking and formulate an intelligent response.

Other sample interview questions

• What job would you like if you had a completely free choice?
• Why are you seeking a position with our company?
• Why do you want to be a *****
• How do you cope with pressure situations? Be ready to give an example.
• Have you come across a situation like this? How did you handle it? What was the outcome?
• What are your greatest achievements to date?
• What objectives did you set yourself at the beginning of your career or study?
• Have you achieved those objectives?
• What interests you most/least about this job?
• Describe your own personality.
• Describe a situation where you have… (as mentioned earlier, this is the style of questioning used in behavioural interviewing, so have relevant examples at the ready.)
• What salary are you looking for? (Do your homework beforehand!)

To answer questions, the following tips might help:

• Review your research about the company and the position.
• Make a list of key attributes required.
• Memorise examples from your recent roles that demonstrate your strength in each of these key attributes.
• The STAR technique (Situation – Task – Action – Result) can help you do this:
Situation – Describe a situation you were in. For example, a colleague was struggling with performance.
Task – Tell them what you decided to do. For example, I sat down with my colleague to discuss how I could help.
Action – Describe what you actually did. For example, I gave my colleague examples of how I improved my own performance.
Result – Tell them what happened as a result of your actions. For example, his/her performance improved dramatically.
• Practice using these examples so that you are very familiar with them.

‘Do you have any questions for us?’

Towards the end of the interview, you will usually be asked if you have any questions of your own. Be confident when asking your questions and use them to score additional points in your favour.

Examples include:

• Why is the position available?
• What training and induction will be given?
• What prospects are there for personal and professional development?
• What are the company plans for the future?
• When can I expect to hear from you?
• What skills and attributes do successful people at your company usually have?
• What do you like best about working at the company?
• What results are expected from me?
• What specific problems are you hoping to solve during the first six months?
• What communication style do you prefer?
• What are your goals for the department?

End of the interview

At the end of your interview, smile and thank the people involved for their time. While decisions and job offers are usually made some time after the interview(s), should an offer of employment be made at the conclusion of any interview you attend, ask whether the offer will be confirmed in writing. Also, it is not unreasonable to request a short period of time to consider the offer before formally accepting.

July Infrastructure Talent Update

The Infrastructure construction industry is going gangbusters across Australia with talent quickly becoming scarce and salaries on a skyward trajectory. With the wave only just beginning, the industry is very upbeat and with the tier 1 contractors (for most part) with plenty of work on the books, the future looks bright for all tiers of operators within the industry.

In terms of demand for staff, you can almost throw a blanket over most roles at all levels, but Project Manager’s with a strong track record in delivery remain the hottest of commodities as companies look for safe hands to deliver key projects. Companies now not only need to be conscious of recruiting new talent to their business but as hiring activity has ramped up by most sectors of the marketplace, they need to lock in their key performers.

On the project front, the mega projects are now getting even bigger with one example being West Connex, where the Baird government are now planning an extra tunnel for the $16.8 Bn project! .

As the infrastructure industry continues to gather momentum across Australia, never has there been a more important time to recruit the right people to make the most of project opportunities and to ensure the company culture you have is the right one. Talent Associates have been a trusted partner for in excess of 17 years for the industry and are committed to securing high level talent for our clients not just putting bums on seats.

We would love to hear from you to hear about your requirements and what we can do to assist you.

March 2015 Infrastructure & Talent Update

The Australian Infrastructure Industry is now moving ahead, with huge projects underway in Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra. Employers are rapidly gaining confidence in the marketplace and their future pipeline of works, leading to hiring intentions rapidly improving across the board, with experienced Project Managers and supervisors the most in demand.

In more positive news for the industry BIS Shrapnel’s Road Construction in Australia 2015 to 2030 report recently released detailed mapping of major projects, as well as projections for subdivisions, local roads, access roads and road construction will be one of the strongest growth markets in the Australian construction industry over the next three years, with the value of activity forecast to rise over 30% in real terms.

We see not only the award of new contracts but other mega projects such as the Western Distributor (Vic), the Logan Motorway Upgrade (Qld), Melbourne Metro Tunnel (Vic), Sydney’s 2nd Airport (NSW) and Northern Connector (SA) are being progressed.

Some recent project announcements include;

  • $350m Monash Widening in Melbourne shortlisted to three bidders;
  • WestConnex twin tunnels ground broken;
  • Melbourne Metro Early Works Package shortlisted to three bidders;
  • Parramatta light rail project moves one step closer;
  • Lal Lal Resevoir Hydro-Electric Project awarded to Tamar Hydro
  • Mernda Rail project EOI released in Vic;
  • Canberra light rail contract awarded
  • NRW Holdings announced as preferred bidder for $2bnForrestfield-Airport Rail Link 
  • Gold Coast light rail project shortlisted to three bidders;
  • The $1.8bn CD9 Contract preferred contractor announced;

Talent Associates continue to be at the forefront of the Australian Infrastructure industry with our knowledge of the marketplace and our industry connections ensuring a high quality service.

December Infrastructure Update

Summer 2015 arrives with sunshine, optimism and excitement for the national infrastructure construction sector. Congratulations to the recent CCF Earth Award recipients with many exceptional entrants from around Australia. Activity in the infrastructure sector is really starting to heat up with many states having major projects under construction and in planning/bid stage including;

  • Victoria: Level crossing removal program, $10bn+ Melbourne Metro Tunnel, $1.2bn Tulla Widening, $1bn + CD9 project and the $4bn + Western Distributor.
  • South Australia: $450m Darlington, $185m+ O-Bahn and EOI currently for the $985m Northern Connector.
  • Tasmania: TasWater & TasRail now starting to spend. $120m Tasmanian Freight Line Upgrade.
  • NSW: West Connex, North West Rail Upgrade and a huge investment in rail & road projects with too many to list!
  • QLD: QGC further $1.7bn investment in LNG, $650m Kingsford Smith Drive, $1.6bn Toowoomba Second Range Crossing (TSRC) and $1.13bn Caloundra to Sunshine Motorway.

Talent Associates recently attended the AusRail Conference & Exhibition held in Melbourne, which was the largest gathering of rail organisations and decision makers ever assembled in Australasia with over 400 exhibitors, 90 technical forums and in excess of 1,000 delegates. The rail industry in Australia is looking very exciting over the next 10 years.

Talent Associates are seeing a huge increase in demand for high quality staff, with many of our clients having strong work books and predicting big things in 2016. Project Managers continue to be in very high demand as are high quality forepersons/supervisors.

June Infrastructure Update

June has been an interesting month for the Civil Construction industry with major projects now awarded in Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane in the past 8 weeks. These projects are going to be major sources of work for many companies including subcontractors and suppliers. Companies are now mobilising delivery teams, so the employment marketplace is becoming more fluid.

Talent Associates is witnessing a major upswing in activity in hiring intentions amongst employers, with companies now willing to engage staff quicker then has been for the last 2 years and we have also experienced a large increase in people looking for alternative roles. This increase in active/passive candidates in the marketplace has been across most skill levels, with many looking to return to their states of upbringing or former residence.

Please see below for some updated industry news and attached some profiles of candidates whom Talent Associates are currently working with;

Industry News & Projects:

  • New underground railway station at Barangaroo as part of Sydney Metro
  • More than $16 billion for transport upgrades in NSW 2015-16 Budget
  • Leighton Contractors named as preferred contractor for level crossing removals in Blackburn, Mitcham and St Albans
  • NSW Budget provides $1bn for ‘simpler planning and better infrastructure’
  • Industry briefing held for Stage 2 of the Sydney Metro project
  • $1.162b D&C contract awarded to Lend Lease for Gateway Upgrade North project in Brisbane
  • Contract officially awarded to Pacific Complete Consortium for $4.3bn Pacific Highway upgrade project