Construction and property industry overview

An industry that can be challenging, but seeing projects come to fruition is the ultimate satisfaction.
Erin Delaney
Team GradAustralia
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Construction and property development could find you overseeing large projects from start to finish, employed in commercial, industrial or residential property development. Or you could find yourself doing property valuation and management, working as a construction manager, property advisor, project manager, facility manager, private or government valuer, estimator or even a quantity surveyor.

Stakeholder management is an important aspect of this line of work, so grads with natural people skills will thrive in an environment where communication and teamwork are critical.

A career in construction and property can provide you with skills that are transferrable to many other industries and professions, giving you lots of opportunities to move sideways as new projects become available or opportunities interest you.

The average starting package for grads in this industry is around $66,000 and on average they work around 46 hours per week, making this a hard-working group.

GradAustralia Construction sector overview for graduates

Job market outlook

Having previously soared to record high levels thanks to government incentives — and later, decreasing interest rates — residential building is dampened slightly due to a reduction in investment.

While the residential building sector has slowed, there is growth expected in roads and non-residential building projects, so civil engineering and construction jobs look set to increase.

The real estate industry is expected to slow after consistently strong property value increases, with the market tipped for a mild correction. This may make finding opportunities a little more difficult and competition may be tougher than in previous years.

Architecture, drafting and surveyor roles have been growing steadily and are expected to continue along on the same track, and land economist and valuer jobs are expected to grow very strongly in 2017.

How to get hired

Competition in the construction and property industry is high, so get ahead of the pack from the get-go by putting together an impressive construction-specific CV.

When writing your CV, impactful verbs work best: use ‘analysed’, ‘organised’ and ‘implemented’, rather than ‘put’ and ‘did’. When writing about your work experience and extracurricular activities, go into detail, explain the consequences/results of your actions, and use numbers to quantify achievements where possible.

For example, on your internship, if you:

were involved in putting together a series of reports on improving properties’ saleability, you could write this up as: ‘Contributed to a series of reports on improving the saleability of properties [say which type of property, eg mixed-use developments] by [eg checking data]’; or
went on site visits organised by your supervisor, you could write this up as: ‘Gained exposure to different types of property and the work of different departments by attending site visits’.

However, don’t inflate your responsibilities. You might think that describing yourself as the ‘project leader for the accounts of 10 high-profile clients’ looks impressive, but if you were only doing a few weeks’ work experience, a recruiter might be suspicious.

If you’ve impressed enough to get to an interview, the next step is to show your understanding of the market and the organisation’s place within it. Knowing about the topical issues in property and in the industries that a firm’s clients belong to is an important way of demonstrating this, so brush up.

Key skills you need

Entrepreneurialism

Entrepreneurialism is important because clients come and go depending on their needs, so firms always need to be on the look-out for new business opportunities. As an example, university student numbers might be projected to increase in the inner city over the next couple of years – a property professional should have the insight and forethought to investigate whether there’ll be demand for more student housing.

People skills

Construction and property is very people-focused, whether it’s clients, customers or team members. In an interview, show off your people skills with a firm handshake and some small talk, and make sure you show an interest in what the recruiters are saying by maintaining eye contact and asking some intelligent questions.

A ‘can do’ attitude

Projects can and will run off course from time to time, or clients will throw a curveball when their needs change — having a ‘can do’ attitude will hold you in good stead when times get tough. Employers want people on the team who will pitch in and get it done, even if things aren’t running quite to plan. Be sure to demonstrate this in your interview with examples of how you made even the toughest circumstances work out for the best.

Alternatives to construction and property

If you’re considering construction and property, you might also like to consider…