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We chat with Melody Humphreys, Construction Recruitment Consultant at Vickerstock.

08.03.19 · Construction News


VS: Why did you decide to become a Recruitment Consultant?

MH: I actually studied law at university and we had a lot of recruiters come in to give presentations to us and I always thought it seemed like an interesting job. I learnt more about it through friends and thought, yes, this is what I want to do. I have been with Vickerstock for a year now and feel it is a company that I can see myself having a long-term career with!


VS: And have you always worked within construction? 

MH: I started out with a large international recruitment agency and they had a construction & property desk available when I joined so that is where I got placed.

I had not intended to go into construction (and had actually been more interested in IT recruitment) so I fell into it and have loved it ever since!!


VS: Did you specialise in a particular area?

MH: For the first year I specialised specifically in architecture but since then I have expanded my service offering and have worked on a  full range of positions within construction including Site Managers, Building Services Engineers, M&E Contracts Managers, Civil and Structural Engineers, Quantity Surveyors.  


VS: Today is International Women’s Day and construction is an industry traditionally filled with mostly male workers. Do you find that the industry in changing much with more women interested in construction roles?

MH:  I have placed quite a few female candidates including senior positons within Building Contractors, but there is no denying that the sector is male dominated. Within design and commercial roles I continue to work with a large number of experienced female candidates, but less so with site operational roles or construction management positions.  Having said that I've definitely noticed an increase in female graduates throughout the construction sector and I think this has been due to a massive shift in attitude in recent years which is fantastic. A lot of this stems from schools being much more informative to young people and shifting away from tradtional views and subjects - encouraging everyone to explore career fields which interest them whether engineering, IT or other!


VS: In terms of company size, do you normally deal with SME or larger companies?

MH: They would tend to be Northern Ireland independent contractors or consultancies, but I do deal with a select few multinationals.  We have recently started to working in the southern market which is another area I will be focusing on in the future.


VS: And what sort of roles are in demand at the moment?

MH: This year I am covering the Quantity Surveyor & Commercial desk but will continue to recruit for M&E / Architecture & Design positions which will be challenging!

Quantity Surveyors are extremely in demand at the moment and there is definitely limited movement within the market compared to last year. However, there are lots of unique and very attractive opportunities available so it is just about finding a role or company which ticks all the boxes for a good candidate.

BIM expertise is another area with a specific skill shortage. I am continuing to see a growing demand for Revit design experience and an increase in BIM management positions. I would also say that across the board, no matter whether it is a Site Manager, Contracts Manager, QS or a Design position we are recruiting for, the typical project experience that clients are interested in, is large-scale commercial experience including Retail, Offices, Hotels & High Rise Residential – basically what’s getting built right now in Belfast.


VS: Ok, so are there lots of QS out there right now?

MH: There are, but because of the high demand they are not on the market for long, so the clients need to move fast in order to secure them.


VS: And has that always been the way or have you noticed much change in the industry since you started working in it?

MH: In the last couple of years the skill shortages across construction locally seem to have got a lot more extreme. Everyone is busy and everyone is hiring! We headhunt candidates or approach our “passive market” of candidates because there are very few active candidates within the market.  Typical candidates that I work with are often “returners” to Northern Ireland from the U.K. or further afield.  I am also finding that a big attraction for candidates are roles with less intense U.K. travel or with more flexibility, because a lot of people are searching for an all-round better work life balance.  Junior candidates are also doing particularly well at the moment - the opportunities locally are enormous for gaining hands-on experience, fast track career progression and competitive starting salaries.


VS: What sort of projects could candidates be expecting to work on if placed with your clients?

MH: It’s mainly going to be your high-end commercial offices, hotels, student accommodation, retail, schools, residential and social-housing. A lot of the companies I recruit for are working on projects across the U.K. and especially London, so there can be some travel involved. However, because of this and because of the increasing demand, my clients are being extremely competitive with their packages. We also have excellent relationships with a lot of the local contractors within niche markets including “Fit Out” or Facade as well as Main Contractors and consultancies.


VS: Is there any advice you would give to candidates when it comes to preparing for interview?

MH: Be confident and able to present your experience to the potential employer, talk about recent projects you have completed and your day to day role. Be honest about your experience in terms of areas of strength and areas you are hoping to develop. Always do research on the company and the role you are going for.

We will guide our candidates through the interview process and give them insight into the company & the person they will be meeting as well as general interview prep. The employer is often looking for the best fit for the role and in some cases the available candidates on the market will only meet some of the criteria. Therefore, even if you don’t fit all of the criteria that the client is looking for, if you have enthusiasm and a real interest in the role and can give an honest run down of your experience, then this will stand you in good stead. 


Melody has developed a strong reputation within the Construction sector in Northern Ireland for placing candidates within some of the most recognisable and successful organisations.

As an experienced recruitment professional bringing specialist knowledge of Design, Quantity Surveying & Commercial, Building Services & Architecture arena. Melody is focused on delivering high level recruitment solutions to assist companies identify, attract and hire high-potential candidates.

To view all live roles Melody is currently recruiting for click the links below

Pre Contract and Commercial

Site Managers, Engineers and Building Services

Architectural, Design & Technical

Melody is an approachable, professional and informed construction recruiter, for a confidential discussion you can contact her on 02890313720 or email melody@vickerstock.co.uk

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