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H3: National job hub in heart of Chicago

H3: National job hub in heart of Chicago

Before the recent explosion of high-end lofts, designer boutiques and waxing salons, Chicago's West Loop was long known as a gritty, intimidating, even dangerous manufacturing mecca.  Warehouses, factories and mills once speckled Madison and Monroe avenues, stretching west toward old Chicago Stadium and sustaining a skilled labor force that helped solidify this city's reputation as a burly, bustling capital of production and ingenuity.  

Of course, when that blue-collar glory faded in the 1980s and '90s, the neighborhood took on a markedly different character. Today, however, that bygone energy has come roaring back, remaking the area into a new hub of technological innovation and opportunity. One excellent example is the growing startup Hard Hat Hub, a new, highly targeted, online job-finding service for the design and construction industry. (Note: Burnham Works and Hard Hat Hub are both owned by Hard Hat Labs.)

Appropriately housed in a converted gear factory in the West Loop, Hub is already very busy, happily connecting skilled construction professionals with prospective employers, both large and small, local and national.  “We're a new technology platform that matches engineers and construction professionals with companies in the architectural, engineering and construction (AEC) industry,” explains Andy Jansen, co-founder and president of Hard Hat Hub. A longtime human resources professional, Jansen spent seven years as HR director at Chicago's Patrick Engineering prior to joining Hub. 

How Hub works to find you work?

Andy Jansen, Co-Founder and President of Hard Hat Hub

Andy Jansen, Co-Founder and President of Hard Hat Hub

Where traditional candidate-matching search firms use older pairing processes that often stray outside the AEC community, Hub uses industry-specific algorithmic, matching tools to sharpen the focus and make better matches for both the client and candidates, says Jansen. "To some extent, we actually are something like 'eHarmony' for this industry," he adds with a smile.

Typically, candidates’ information and experiences are quickly aggregated, processed and sorted in Hard Hat Hub’s proprietary database, producing matches as close as possible to clients’ needs. “The process is a snap,” says Jansen. 

Online, job-seekers can easily tie their LinkedIn profiles to their Hard Hat Hub profiles, which then automatically use that data to fill common information gaps that might have hindered candidacies in the past. The fuller the candidate profiles, the easier it is to pair them with established clients that have been similarly candid in specifying their needs.

But the database isn’t just for the younger, twenty-somethings. 

“Our reach already is extending to all our target demographics," says Jansen. "The older generation is adapting with the new market, and are just as active in our community now as the younger generation.”

Focused market, but a broader mission

Hard Hat Hub only focuses on companies that serve the building and built environments. “That makes us unique,” says Jansen. “We work with general contractors, engineering consultants, utility firms, facility management and anyone else who designs and builds.” 

Most current efforts are focused on filling permanent roles, but Hub is looking to expand into project placement and short- or long-term contract work. Granted, the company is still less than a year old, but Jansen one day sees Hub becoming the world’s largest platform for finding and connecting top talent in the AEC field.

Hard Hat Hub Corporate Office

Hard Hat Hub Corporate Office

Beyond job placements, though, Hard Hat Hub also aims to engage a broader audience on topics and issues important to them, ranging from economic data to other business news that may bear on hiring and personnel issues. According to Jansen, providing information to educate clients and candidates has proved to be an effective and popular resource for its customers. Toward that end, Hub reports on a variety of news, features and trends, ranging from employment figures and surveys on the best employers to mergers and acquisition and tips on how to answer tough job interview questions.

Hiring at the speed of now... 

Hard Hat Hub’s vision is to become a solution-provider on virtually any issue.  “As we reach out to candidates and companies, we have naturally found employers with questions and individuals with answers,” notes Jansen, who says Hub constantly finds itself connecting curious clients with knowledgeable experts in an increasingly complex industry.

“The way people are working today is changing," he adds. "Between the emphasis on virtual identities, remote offices, cloud-computing, emerging technology and overall resource scarcity, there is a need for outside talent to help navigate our industry.” 

Hard Hat Hub is confident that if it cannot directly provide the services or solutions its clients are seeking, it can find someone who will.

You would be a good candidate for Hard Hat Hub if…

  1. You are an AEC company looking to hire;
  2. You are an individual pursuing a career in the AEC industry;
  3. You are a company/individual who is trying to promote your brand to the AEC market.



Karl Sorensen

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