Take These Simple Steps to Hire a Great Estimator

Hiring a new estimator for contract tenders is a great position to be in. Because your business is growing, finding the right fit for the team can be a time intensive task. With a streamlined game plan, you can simplify the process significantly. First order of business, pre-plan the hiring process before you even post the job opening.

A common mistake construction executives make is recruiting team members simply because they look the part. In the long run, it doesn’t matter if, on paper, someone’s resume and “image” look perfect. You want people that can actually do the job. That junior estimator from the skyscraper builders, they look the part, but they may be bored with your one month duration drywall projects and may jump ship in six months. Now you have to start all over.

Following these guidelines will help narrow your search for the best estimator to ensure long-term stability within your team.

Process – Have a process for all your company’s tasks.

This should be part of your company’s standard operating procedures (SOPs). It is your company’s master guide for everything from the bid/tender process, to hiring guidelines, onboarding, employee orientation, safety training, and ex-
pense reporting.

Checklist – Your process can be boiled down to a checklist.

Update the job description, create a list of questions, check academic and employment history, and reference check. Be creative, call vendors that the candidate may have worked with and ask them “Did he treat you fairly?” “Was he clear on his requests?”’

Job Description – Update the job description.

Match how many years of experience the candidate needs to be effective. Just six months of real world estimating may be more than enough. Educational requirements should be commensurate with your company’s workforce.

Candidate Questions – Write down a series of questions an estimator should know.

Here are some examples:

• Walk me through your estimating process. How do you do takeoff?

• What are the most important factors that affect overall costs of a project?

• Which metrics do you use most in your estimates?

• What software do you find most useful?

• How do you communicate with field staff to make sure your productivity rates are current?

Offer Letter – Update with specific position, date, name, salary, etc.

While this should be part of your SOP, it doesn’t have to be a standard experience for the offeree. If they have made it this far through the hiring process, that means you feel they’re a good fit for the team. Now it’s your turn to show how much you want them. Update the offer letter with the position, date, name, salary, and any other attractive perks to differentiate your firm from other companies they might be considering.

Onboarding – Get the new estimator up to speed with the tools of the trade.

If your company uses estimating software such as On-Screen Takeoff® and Quick Bid®, this makes the training process much easier. However, if you still do manual estimation with paper plans and Excel, make sure you document and explain all the parts of creating and checking the bid process.

Finally, and arguably one of the most important things to do, is to continually improve and document your processes. Then, watch your new estimator thrive in your organization and help your company grow.