New to Contract Scotland, but Not Construction

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Scott Hallam - Colour

New to Contract Scotland, but Not Construction

Scott Hallam

I work in recruitment for the construction industry and have done for 4 years since relocating to Scotland. Aside from the fact that I love what I do, as unbelievable as some people find that, I don’t love talking about myself. There's a lot that people wouldn’t know about me which lead me to this point in my career and has made me passionate about the construction industry.

At Contract Scotland, I oversee technical & professional requirements for employers in the subcontracting and fitout sectors. I’ll recruit for anything from Design, Site & Project Management, Surveying and Estimating roles to senior management and even more left-field technical roles on occasion as well.

So who am I and why do I love what I do?

Recruitment was not my introduction to construction. In fact, I’ve been in the industry for over 10 years and although 6 of those years were in Canada, I did manage to do and learn a lot while I was stuck out in the winter with my feet blackened by the cold and icicles hanging from my eyelids.

Fresh out of high school, a friend and I landed ourselves apprenticeships with a large roofing contractor in Eastern Ontario. At the time, all we had to do to get hired was answer a couple quick questions from the operations manager: ‘could we sweep’ and ‘could we mop’… I thought to myself, “this is going to be the most boring summer job ever!”. Luckily, I was wrong.

Although carpooling together and working on all the same projects earned us the unfortunate nickname of frick & frack, we quickly outgrew those and earned some respect for our work ethic and quick learning. We were lucky to work on the big jobs with high-security clearance because we were some of the only roofers in our region who didn’t have criminal records…

I loved learning the technical aspects of my trade, I saw how others ran their teams and how the business operated and interacted with clients. I felt sorry for my friends at the time as it was all I would talk about.

Although I was progressing, I wanted more, so I decided to go back and get a degree in business. My mindset in starting the course was that I was destined for the next big step in my career and that I would finally challenge myself intellectually, but it only took 3 days in the course for a classmate to tell me that his friend was starting a roofing company and they needed some roofers to help with some new projects. I don’t tend to turn down many opportunities for a hard day’s work, so next thing I knew, I was working regularly with them during my studies.

After I finished my studies, I became a foreman in the business and over time, used my business knowledge to help the owner with management, accounting and finances, sales & estimating, and, we agreed it made sense to take over.

2 years on from taking over and the business was doing well. We had expanded from 1 crew to 3, with 2 new partners in the business that oversaw projects in different markets. We had expanded from doing small domestic jobs to taking on larger commercial projects and we were passionate about our company. This was 2014 and unlike the UK, Canada wasn’t hit as hard in 2008 by the recession, yet, it’s effects dragged on and was cutting into margins year on year.

We were working 100+ hours a week and that was no exaggeration, but our 5-year plan for expansion was looking like a 10-year plan and the market wasn’t able to buy on value anymore. The Cowboys had been winning more work on prices that could have only been sustained through unlicensed and unaccredited workers and we didn’t want our hard work to result in anything less than significant growth, so although some people would criticise closing a profitable business, we decided it was time to move on.

A friend of mine at the time had been living and working in Scotland. I had visited and loved it here and because my grandmother was from the UK originally, I had easy access to long-term visas to stay here. With the prospect of having to start down a new career path, I figured, “what the heck, I’ll give it a go somewhere new”. I sold my tools, furniture, trucks, materials, drumsets and guitars, packed a bag with my Ice hockey kit and a few pairs of clothes and set off to a country that would never get below -10 c ever again – or so I thought.

I stayed with my friend for a month and set myself the goal of pursuing one of the many aspects that I loved most about running my business: either business development, building teams, marketing, or something to do with construction management.

I didn’t know what recruitment was, but it was the first job I was offered that sounded like what I was going for, so I took it. Again, I loved it and became invested in it completely. It sounds like an embellishment, but genuinely, nothing feels better than helping a good job seeker find employment which helps fulfill their own personal motivations. I know from experience that good companies are built by employees that love what they do.

Last year I made the decision to move to Contract Scotland and I couldn’t be happier. The non-commission business model here allows me to have more integrity in what I do and actually build better relationships with my clients rather than being focused on making “sales”. I’m finally able to use what I know from my time running a construction business and working in the trades to help employers attract better talent and build effective teams.

In my mind, my career in recruitment has only just begun and I am now able to bring true value to job seekers and employers alike. So, if you think I could help you in any way or if you’re interested in hearing more about fitout and subcontracting companies, salary reviews, new opportunities, or even read some of my nonsense now and again, please add me on Linkedin/Facebook.

Thanks for reading. Hopefully, if enough people read this, it means I don’t have to talk about myself again for too long.

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