Civil Engineering Jobs – Will Any Job Do?

July 15, 2009 at 4:23 pm 17 comments


By Carol Metzner
President, The Metzner Group, LLC
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC home of CivilEngineeringCentral.com

I  recently received this email from an experienced civil engineer: “I don’t care where the company is located or what types of civil engineering projects I will be working on.     After 3 months of being unemployed, can you just help me find a civil engineering job?”

By now, we all know the difference that a couple of years can make.

It wasn’t that long ago that candidates would turn down good opportunities for a variety of reasons:  too far of a commute; didn’t like the workspace (“I want my own office”); job title wasn’t right (“I want a Department Manager title”), etc. An upcoming CivilEngineeringCentral.com newsletter author spoke with me about an excellent article he wrote for us entitled, “Advancing Your Career.” Specifically, he lists “Top 10” ideas that one can use to help advance his/her career.  Among the 10 bulleted items, the article suggests assessing where, and for whom one works. It is suggested that you then evaluate whether you are in the right company with the right people to help you reach your professional goals.  I question whether many of our readers have the luxury to make these types of assessments at this stage in life.

On the company “gossip” websites, employees of A/E firms complain in great detail about their employers.  In many instances they report that they will leave their employers as soon as the market allows for them to identify another job. But, for today, they will stay employed and endure their perceived incompetent management, demotivating work environment and inadequate compensation.  Most are saying “any job will do”– for right now.

When the market bounces back, companies who are ignoring management training and evaluations will find voluntary turnover rates skyrocketing!  Staff at all levels will leave in droves and recruiting to replace them will be a financial and logistics nightmare. Hopefully, HR leaders will keep an eye on employee comments and hold technical managers accountable during the current market.

Until then, while job security is more important now than in the recent past, there are still a lot of good opportunities out there to consider.  Don’t stop evaluating your career goals– just be more selective in your search. And, make sure to either talk to your HR representative OR use your anonymous employee feedback system to alert management that you don’t just want “any job” located “anywhere.” You deserve to take an active role in making the one you have much better.

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Entry filed under: Career Development, Civil Engineering, civil engineering blog, Civil Engineering Issues, Civil Engineering Jobs, Employee Retention, Human Resources, Recruiting, The Workplace, Uncategorized. Tags: , , , .

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17 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Abdullah  |  December 21, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    i am fresh graduate civil engineer (since two years ago) until now !!!!!!

    Reply
  • 2. Anon  |  September 1, 2010 at 9:47 am

    You know how in college that had those huge auditorium classes where the professors didn’t care and seemed like they could care less if you failed, what some called “weed-out” classes, this may be a translation to what the job market for engineers is right now. There are some out there, but if you truly want to still be an Engineer you’re going to have to work harder to get the job and gain the experience. A lot of intelligent Engineers out there willing to give jobs and share knowledge but they are more reluctant to just give this information to anyone. Keep fighting, the job market will get better, however those times of just anyone getting into the field will no longer be. Prove yourself as an asset.

    Reply
    • 3. Willy Loman  |  November 7, 2011 at 3:42 pm

      I respectfully disagree with the insinuation that “working harder” will get you a job. Basically, engineering firms are in the position that they can hire experienced professionals to do entry level work for entry level wages. If you do not have a considerable amount of specialized experience, your chances of getting an offer at this point are slim to none. If you are a young engineer entering this field, the economy has already had serious negative impacts on the course of your career. Unless you feel like waiting around for the boomers to retire, I would suggest cutting your losses and doing something in the medical field.

      Reply
  • 4. AV  |  May 25, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    Hi guys,
    I hold a BS degree in mechanical engg… I realized much later (I’m now 47) that I did a mistake in choosing mechanical engg field (actually, I joined IT long ago in stead of mechanical field… I didn’t like mechanical engg and I want to change now career again) … so, as the matter stands, I want to do BS in civil engg because I’ve lately realized that civil engg. is my true passion.

    can anyone here give some direction to me about following:
    1) do I have to go through entire 4 years of graduation course in civil engg considering the fact that I hold a BS in mechanical engg and some topics in civil and mechanical are common.

    2) do companies hire senior people (BS in civil engg) when I graduate possibly when I become about 50+ years?

    3) please answer question 2) assuming improved economy after 3- 4 years from now.

    please suggest thoughts as I would have to think seriously before making a change in my career…. your honest opinion is highly appreciated ! – many thanks.

    Reply
  • 5. Civil Engineer, LEED AP  |  April 29, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    I am in the same boast as the “recent” college grad is! I spoke to a few recruiter (head hunters- as the call) & seems every one is telling me come back in August! What do you folks think? Is it going to really improve?

    Reply
  • 6. Civil Engineering, EIT  |  April 9, 2010 at 10:33 am

    I am a “recent” college grad. I put “recent” in quotations because I’ve been job searching for 18 months and no luck. I actually started out majoring in nursing. My true love is civil engineering, but… sometimes I wonder if I would have been better off just doing nursing and at least having a steady, good-paying work.

    Reply
    • 7. Willy Loman  |  November 7, 2011 at 3:36 pm

      My best friend is an RN. We went to engineering school together and he couldn’t hack it, so he dropped out of the curriculum and entered nursing. I graduated in civil engineering with honors, I have recommendation letters from the dean of the school of engineering and a congressman. Not only do I not make as much as my friend, I can’t even get an interview for a job that pays $20k per year less than his.

      Reply
  • 8. Grimmie895  |  April 1, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    I am a Professional Engineer and have been moved from full time salary to part time hourly. The hours have gone down from 30 hours a week to no hours this last week. I’m currently applying to get my PE in Texas as the economy seems better there. Only problem is that I would probably have to lose my house to make the move and ruin my credit. Have to do what you need to make your bills. I’ve lived here for over 20 years now and the thought of leaving is depressing. So, yeah, I’d say I was pretty un-happy.

    Reply
  • 9. Unhappy Civil Engineering Employees «  |  March 30, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    [...] those unhappy civil engineering employees, last July’s blog: Civil Engineering Jobs – Will Any Job Do? discussed the importance of trying to improve your current situation. You need to take a shared [...]

    Reply
  • 10. Doug  |  November 3, 2009 at 10:14 am

    It is extremely sad that we are having to go through this. I remember when I graduated in 2006 I had 3 different offers. Now I can barely get a job interview.
    The worst part is that employers now have the upper hand and they are using it unfairly. I interviewed for an engineering job and everyone liked me. They even made mention of my moving arrangements. I then tried to call them to no avail. I assume that they probably got a more qualified candidate for less money and they easily tossed me away just like that.
    It’s really unfortunate but hopefully we’ll make it.

    Post job-loss guide for civil engineers

    Reply
  • 11. just want experience  |  August 23, 2009 at 9:59 am

    this civil engineer has been unemployed for 9 months. haven’t had one real interview. did a bunch of networking that lead to meeting a bunch of people who said i have a great personality and resume but have no room for me. so I’m off to school to get a MS in CE. (local university is offering 50% off tuition to unemployed alum!) taking my PE this fall but I’m still short 5 months work experience. wish anyone would at least call me in for an interview, i don’t care if it’s for part-time work.

    Reply
  • 12. Victoria  |  July 30, 2009 at 1:13 am

    Some of us are so desperate to find a job that we are willing to lower our standards and take less pay, or work at a company that we know wont help us to advance in our careers. I have seen people with a P.E. Licence take a Cad Drafting job doing red-lines just to get hired. Employers know that in an economic downturn, that they can hire the “best” at a much lower rate of pay. Should we be lowering our standards and letting employers take advantage so we can just get a job?

    Reply
  • 13. SuzyQ  |  July 24, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    I know someone who was in that same boat a short while ago. Now, working for a new company around some old friends, there is time for reflection on her past job. Basically, she has come to the realization that the place that let her go was not the best to work for if she wanted to really advance her career. Where she is at now is better and offers more opportunities so the original problem of losing a job was an opportunity.

    Reply
  • 14. Mfaria11  |  July 24, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    I am in the same boat and have stooped to running land desktop demos and such at home just to keep my hand in and trying to stay up to date. A depressing time is right and its hard to try and train at home without much hope.

    Reply
  • 15. aepcentral  |  July 15, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    Thanks for your comments! This is such a tough market. Hoping the next few months will see the upswing. Carol

    Reply
  • 16. Nathan Rigler, E.I.T.  |  July 15, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    A recent Dilbert strip pretty well summed up the current environment for people in my position. In this economy companies are not growing and no one is leaving their job. Thus, young engineers such as myself have no way to advance our careers when we do obtain our P.E.

    If the market doesn’t improve soon, we’ll all probably be doing the same low-level work, at the same low-level pay even after we are licensed.

    Reply
  • 17. Sam Jacoby, P.E.  |  July 15, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    I am in the same boat as the person who will work anywhere. Unemployment is a depressing time, and when self-reflection gets old (on day 2), anywhere, any job, any pay is your only thought!

    Reply

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