Posts filed under ‘Recruiting’
More A/E firms are adding behavioral and personality assessments to their interview process. These tests or inventories “show” tendencies or ways that you are most likely to respond to your surroundings. Proponents say results from the assessments when used with a face to face interview will help predict a good “fit” between you and the job for which you are applying. These evaluations are standardized and carry statistical analysis to add to more commonly used conversational interviews. It has been reported that, unlike a normal interview, it is impossible to “cheat” on an assessment; impossible to answer questions that you think will give you a profile that an employer is seeking. And, you should not try to cheat. Eventually, your true personality will show itself. Firms believe the more they can discover about a persons strengths in personality as well as technical knowledge, the better the chance for a long term employment fit.
Recently I heard a story that shocked me! An executive shared with me one of his behavioral and personality assessment stories. After multiple interviews for a key leadership role in a mid-sized firm, the CEO asked him to meet with a psychologist for an assessment. As he entered the psychologist’s office, the CEO entered also and sat down. The psychologist began with his very in-depth assessment and the CEO remained. This is unethical and highly unusual. I asked the executive why he didn’t ask the CEO to leave or just stand up and walk out! Easy to think what we all would do but tougher when actually in the situation. Afterwards the executive candidate did tell the CEO it was inappropriate for him to have been in the assessment and he withdrew as a candidate.
Back in my graduate school days (many years ago) I recall writing a paper on the worst personality assessment tool I had come across. The test results were based upon which color you liked the best. The test had the validity of a newspaper horoscope. So as I was contemplating this blog, I took one of the common assessments utilized in our industry: The DISC assessment. Without going into too much detail, I will summarize: It was accurate. My chosen profession as an executive recruiter working with architects, engineers and scientists is a good fit!
In my experience, I have seen that when used accurately, various assessments can be helpful. However, often I have witnessed these tools to be used to knock out otherwise good candidates. Readers of the results often “see what they want to see.” They turn a positive attribute into a negative one. It is important that interpreters and users of the collected data be EDUCATED on how to use the information correctly and to weigh the results accurately!
Have you taken any assessments as part of an interview process? Which ones have you taken? Do you think it is invasive, helpful or neither? Do you think you were not offered a job because of testing?
In the game of poker, slow playing is the tactic of not taking aggressive action when you have a strong hand. The goal is to draw the other players at the table in to keep them playing and to keep building the pot, with the intent of beating everyone in the end after luring them in and cashing in on their chips. It’s not a bad strategy…unless you get burned in the end and someone gets “the nuts” on the river, at which point the tables have been turned, you lost a large stack of chips, and now you find yourself fighting to stay in the game.
In a recent LA Times article, “Employers wait longer to hire, waiting for perfect candidate,” it is noted that despite an improving economy, employers are slow-playing their hiring process taking an average of 23 business days to hire someone for a position. In 2009, this process was only 15 business days.
Another article from AOL Jobs, “4 Million Openings: Too Many Employers Await ‘Ideal Candidate’,” reiterates the facts from the LA Times article and goes on to state that employers fear making a bad hire, and that discrimination against the unemployed runs rampant.
In my experience working with civil engineers and civil engineering employers across the country, this concept holds true as well. The economy has crushed the confidence of so many employers over the past five years that they have become very hesitant to “pull the trigger” in hiring new employees…and rightfully so. Slow playing the hiring process when you have a candidate that rates an “8″ on a scale of 1-10 while waiting for a “10″ to come along will most often result in one of your competitors coming in and swiping your “8″ candidate and leaving you with ZERO. You’ve wasted a whole lot of time, you’ve wasted a lot of money (lost productivity, travel, etc), and you’ve still got an empty office or empty cubicle.
A couple of things to keep in mind to help shorten your time-to-hire a civil engineer:
A. If you constantly “slow play” your hiring process waiting for the perfect “10,” your business will never grow. The candidate pool is scattered with some really good, but short of perfect, candidates. Perfect “10′s” are few-and-far between, so if you sit on your hands waiting for that candidate to walk through the doors, well, you’ll likely get pins-and-needles in your hands before too long.
B. A strong manager may be able to turn that “8″ into “10″. That said, always be on the look out for mentoring or training opportunities to make your leadership even stronger.
C. Have a hiring process in place, just don’t “wing it.” Have some sort of database that tracks candidates and their skills; allow access to share outlook calendars among employees and keep them up to date so scheduling interviews is a “snap”‘; prepare for the interview with the candidate with the same vigor that the candidate has ideally prepared for you; should the interview go well, be prepared to schedule the 2nd meeting right there on the spot; have an offer letter template that you are able to personalize based upon the candidate and the role you are offering them. Those are just a few ideas.
D. Begin checking references early on in the process if possible. A game of phone tag often persists when checking references, so the earlier you start, the more quickly you can make an offer following the interview. This keeps the momentum of the process going and greatly reduces your chances of the candidate being swiped up by a competitor during the interim that normally exists between the final interview and offer stage.
E. If the candidate has met with more than one person during their interview, be prepared to gather as a group and exchange thoughts with each other within 24 hours. Put it on your schedule. Failing to officially schedule this debrief with the hopes of catching up some time in the near future when everyone just happens to be in the office at the same time is a recipe for disaster. Especially in an environment where everyone is spread so thin…be sure to put the debrief on the calendar.
F. Don’t be so quick to shove aside an unemployed candidate. Some people really do just get the “short end of the stick”…really. If their resume shows progression and stability up until the point they were laid off, you may just have yourself a diamond in the rough!
I’ve slow played in poker before with the allure of building up the stack of chips on the table and cashing in big…what a great feeling! But I can’t play that way all the time. The same holds true with hiring…every once in a while you may slow play the hiring process, buying time until that rainmaker of a candidate appears…and what a great feeling! But that does not happen all the time, so when a good or really good candidate that falls short of “perfect” is within sight, don’t be afraid to go all in!
Engineers of decades past have had more credit hours required of them compared to the engineers of today, yet engineers of today have so much more to learn than those engineers of past generations. As a result, there is a new campaign supported by the likes of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE), and the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) that is catching fire:
If you have not noticed, many engineering companies these days are requiring Masters Degrees for any candidates they consider for current or future jobs. Why? Today’s engineer can no longer rely solely on a Bachelors Degree and senior civil engineering staff to teach them all the knowledge and technology necessary to be successful, because they do not always understand it all themselves. The challenges of today’s civil engineering infrastructure are much more complex than in years past, and a Masters Degree in Civil Engineering allows the engineer of today to be more prepared to take on those complex challenges. Universities have the continued pressure to graduate their engineering undergrads in four years, but this will not provide the undergraduate civil engineer with the knowledge and skills to meet the demands of a Professional Engineer.
Carl Mack, Ph.D, Executive Director for the National Society of Black Engineers says, “If you want to be competitive in this global environment, in this very changing and complex world, an undergrad degree just isn’t going to cut it.”
As you will hear in the video below, education beyond the undergraduate degree has been a requirement for every learned profession except engineering. Professional Engineering is not setting the same standards as a doctor or lawyer or any other profession that requires an advanced degree; as a result, it is time to “Raise the Bar for Engineering.” By increasing the educational requirements for the Professional Engineer, many experts agree that this will help boost the profession to the stature where it belongs.
Take a look at the following promotional video for this initiative:
An opposing opinion was left on the YouTube page where this video was found:
“This is a misguided initiative. There is certainly very little value an engineering Masters degree would provide the practicing engineer. Most Masters degrees, and even most Bachelors degrees, are research and theory based and provide little practical knowledge for the real world. On the job experience is more valuable. To compare our profession to doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, etc. is fair, but let’s be honest, there’s no way employers are going to pay at the same level as those professions.”
This initiative seems to make sense, as the impact that engineers make on our society is overlooked for no good reason. Their talents and skills are critical to our world, so comparing them to attorneys or doctors from a stature standpoint I do not believe is off target.
What do you think? Are you FOR or AGAINST this campaign?
To learn more, please visit http://www.raisethebarforengineering.org
A couple of weeks ago a consulting civil engineering client of mine offered an opportunity to an extremely talented candidate that would have allowed him to work from home for his first 6-8 months in order to accommodate some special circumstances. The candidate ended up delaying the acceptance of the offer until the first quarter of next year as his situation would be fully resolved (hopefully the opportunity will still be available). The details of the circumstances are neither here nor there, but at the end of the day this candidate determined that as flattered as he was that they would make special accommodations for him, he would not feel comfortable in a work-from-home situation as he would be “out of the mix.” He is a team player and not having immediate access to his team, and the “perception” that he would not be giving 110% because of his physical absence he saw as a detriment.
According to the article, remote employees were more engaged because:
1. Proximity Breeds Complacency - that is, leaders who work in the same building, let alone the same floor, regularly fail to interact face-to-face with their employees, preferring rather to communicate via email.
2. Absence Makes People Try Harder to Connect – that is, leaders are more deliberate in their communication with those off-site employees.
3. Leaders of Virtual Teams Make a Better Use of Tools – that is, leaders are forced to use video-conferencing, instant messaging, and even the telephone, just to name a few; an advantage that their peers may not necessarily take advantage of by having everyone working in the office.
4. Leaders of Far-Flung Teams Maximize the Time their Teams Spend Together – that is, since the time the team actually spends together on location is limited, when they do get together the level of focused attention is higher than it might be otherwise.
I do not necessarily doubt the findings and opinions of this article, but my question is, was the candidate in the experience that I alluded to at the beginning of this blog right in his decision? Since we are dealing with a Civil Engineering consulting firm and considering that the candidate would be a full-time permanent employee with the title of Sr. Civil Engineer who is looking to continuously advance up the corporate ladder, I would say that, in as much as I was disappointed in the fact that he declined the offer, he was probably correct. And here is why:
1. Knowing the determination and intelligence of the candidate, he could have successfully handled the situation. But he felt that, especially with a new employer, he did not want to be perceived as a slacker. Even though he would have given 110%, his absence from the office could easily be mis-construed.
2. Part of his motivation for exploring a new opportunity was because in his current role, he lacked mentorship. Working from home for at least six months would limit the mentoring opportunities available to him.
3. Working from home for a large civil engineering consulting firm as a project engineer often makes it difficult to grab people, share ideas, ask questions, and bounce concepts off of peers and managers “on the fly.”
4. Out of sight, out of mind. Enough said.
Unless you are a regional or national business development executive who is jet-setting all week, or a technical engineer who is completely satisfied with maintaining a long-term technical engineering role with no real advancement, you are better off working at the office as opposed to remotely from home.
Does your firm allow for work-at-home opportunities on a regular basis? Have you been part of a positive work-from-home experience? Have you seen people fail in work-at-home situations with their employers? I look forward to hearing you share your thoughts and experiences on this topic as a civil engineer.
Finally, if you are on LinkedIn, please click on the following link to take our following “one-click” poll on this topic:
Today’s blog is the second in a series of entries that will help those executives in the AEC community understand why they might be losing out to the competition when competing for great candidates and top talent. Having recruited civil engineering and architectural professionals for over 15 years I have witnessed some fantastic interviewing and hiring processes…and I have witnessed some miserable ones as well. Most processes fall in the middle of that spectrum, so by understanding what you may NOT be doing and making some subtle (or not so subtle, depending how poor your process really may be) changes may help you reel in a higher percentage of those good or great candidates that may have joined the competition in the building down the street or the floor below!
Not maintaining momentum can KILL your chances of hiring that top prospect. The pace of the interview process in a moment of time is crucial. I’m not talking about having an offer sent to a candidate’s blackberry after the first interview before they even leave the building, but by keeping a steady pace of the process from initial inquiry to offer is so important. I cannot stress this enough.
Momentum is important for multiple reasons:
A. It keeps you focused on the candidate and your thoughts and memory of the interview fresh.
B. It keeps the candidate excited and interested.
C. It shows the candidate that you are indeed excited in the prospect of brining them on board. Extensive delays from interview-to-interview with the same candidate is often perceived by the candidate that the client is undecided or not real thrilled about them, and every day that fades to black without contact or scheduling of an interview or feedback takes a little bit more wind out the sails.
D. Delays in follow-up interviews or reference checks allows for an opening for another firm to shimmy their way on to the candidate’s radar screen. If you are taking your good ’ol time and the other firm understands the concept of momentum, they can make up considerable ground and by the time you finally lay out an offer on the table the other company will be doing the same; this of course decreases the likelihood of acceptance of your offer.
E. It allows you to move on to other candidates that you were interested in more swiftly in the event of a turndown. Let’s say you put all your efforts into candidate A, but you were aware of candidate B as well but chose not to interview them until your learned the fate of candidate A. If you are dragging your feet and candidate A ends up turning down your offer, candidate B may already be off the market. Ideally, you should be interviewing multiple candidates at the same time if possible. The “all your eggs in one basket theory” is not a good idea here.
So How Do You Keep Momentum Going When Everyone is So Busy?
A. Have access to everyone’s calendar and plan the next meeting at the end of the previous meeting (assuming there is a fit).
B. If you need a day to talk amongst the team that interviewed the candidate, that is okay. But don’t wait longer than 24 hours. If the feedback is positive and you want to move forward, then find 6 available options for the next meeting to present to the candidate (3 days/times during business hours, 3 evenings/times for after hours meeting). This will eliminate the constant back-and-forth that would normally occur suggesting one date and time at a time.
C. For employment law reasons, companies are required to track applicants; have the candidate complete the employment application prior to the first interview. This way that part is done and over with. Sometimes these applications are a hassle, and candidates keep delaying this task, so taking care of this sooner than later is recommended. This also gives them a deadline to meet.
D. Your day is likely filled with meetings, site visits, lunch meetings, etc…so task your in house Recruiter (if you have one), your Human Resources Professional, or your Administrative Assistant with following up with the candidate. Of course if you are using a search consultant, this would be part of their duty in servicing you as their client.
E. The same resources mentioned above in “D” should immediately begin checking references as soon as the candidate has provided them. References can take some time, but if you have someone who is easily accessible to stop what they are doing to take / make that call and write up the appropriate report you will keep the momentum.
F. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this: consider hiring an executive search consultant who specializes in the professional skill set that you are looking to hire. Recruiters are notorious for understanding and keeping the momentum and they will be able to handle all of the above.
G. Should you and your team be excited about the candidate, and should their references check out, be immediately prepared to formulate an EXCITING offer letter, and be sure to include a decision deadline.
How does your company keep momentum going with candidates? Or, as a candidate, what are your experiences you have had where a company was pursuing you and they did a great job with keeping momentum? Or, also as a candidate, did an organization lose out on you because they failed to keep the momentum going? Please share your stories!
Next topic in this series: FAILURE TO CONTINUOUSLY CLOSE
Today’s entry is the first in a series that I will be writing aimed at helping those executives in the AEC community understand why they might be losing out to the competition when competing for great candidates and top talent. Having recruited civil engineering and architectural professionals for over 15 years I have witnessed some fantastic interviewing and hiring processes; I have witnessed some miserable ones as well. Most processes fall in the middle of that spectrum, so by understanding what you may NOT be doing and making some subtle (or not so subtle, depending how poor your process really may be) changes may help you reel in a higher percentage of top talent rather than losing them to the competition in the building down the street or the floor below!
The Red Carpet: If you are not rolling it out, candidates will not roll in.
Actually rolling out a red carpet from the reception area to the President’s office and putting up the candidate at the Ritz Carlton and providing limousine service is not necessarily what I am talking about here – and that would actually be quite odd in the civil engineering world. What I am really talking about is having the candidate have an enjoyable and memorable interviewing experience. Here are some ideas as to how your civil engineering consulting firm can “roll out the red carpet” during its interview process:
A. First Impressions. Have a clean and organized office exterior and internal reception / waiting area. We are dealing with engineers and architects here – they design exactly where water and dirt should go and they design beautiful bridges and buildings. They expect a clean cut and organized facility and reception area that is designed and maintained with pride. Unmaintained landscaping and cobwebs in the corners don’t make for great first impressions.
B. Greetings. Have the receptionist make them feel welcome and let it be known that they were expected. Have the receptionist greet him or her with a hand shake and maybe hand them a prepared folder with corporate marketing materials. That way when they leave and are at home they have constant reminder of how great the interview went (hopefully). Also, don’t make them wait more than five minutes. And when you are ready to meet the candidate, don’t have the receptionist bring them back to a meeting room or your office – come out and get them yourself!
C. Level of Comfort. Make them feel comfortable throughout the interview process by introducing them to some other folks that they could be potentially working with, and be sure to show them around. Some companies may have just the hiring manager interview a candidate, and maybe one other person. The truth is, they will feel much more comfortable at least getting to know some of the other folks they will be in the trenches with as well as what the physical work environment is like. This will help them actually envision themselves working with your civil engineering or architectural consulting firm…not to mention that you will get to see them interact and some extra sets of eyes and ears will allow additional perspectives and feedback regarding the candidate from your team.
D. Making Arrangements. If you are bringing someone in from out of town, have a system in place that allows for YOUR company to make all the arrangements rather than having the candidate make those arrangements themselves only to submit their receipts for reimbursement. This includes flight arrangements, shuttle service, car rental if necessary, hotel arrangements, etc.
E. Thank You Letters. Send the candidate a thank you letter; if not first, at least in a detailed response to the thank you letter that the candidate should have sent you. Trust me – this is not done very often at all. Some may think this is an example of a company showing their cards too early and may hurt them should offer negotiations ensue. I disagree. To me, this is an example of “continuously closing” that I will touch on at a later date. Personally speaking, if I was a candidate and I got an email from a prospective employer thanking me for MY time and sharing with me some of their thoughts on our interview, I would be flattered and encouraged, and I would feel great!
How does your company roll out the red carpet? Or, as a candidate, what are some examples where you have been given what you consider to be “red carpet treatment during an interview process that you went through?
Next topic in this series: MOMENTUM
By Kerry Harding
President and Chief Recruiting Officer, The Talent Bank, Inc.
What if I were to stand on the street in front of The White House and ask 100 people passing by two questions: “Can you name a famous engineer?” and “Can you name a famous basketball player.” Somebody did this once. On the engineer side, 3 people offered John Roebling, designer of the Brooklyn Bridge. He was the top vote getter. Of those same 100 people, 87 said, without any hesitation whatsoever, to the second question, “Michael Jordan.” I pondered a third question: Why aren’t there more superstars in engineering firms?
Unlike professional sports, no system exists to identify and track top design talent. For 2011, a simple Internet search revealed that UCLA’s Gerrit Cole was Major League Baseball’s top draft pick; Auburn’s Cam Newton was the National Football League’s top draft pick; and Duke’s Kyrie Irving the top pick for the National Basketball Association. Stats like these are available back to the early 1950s. Yet, who were the top ten engineering firm graduates in the country last year? Five years ago? Ten years ago? Where did they start their careers? Where are they now? Compiling this information would take hundreds of hours— even if privacy laws even made it possible. What does the professional sports world have that the engineering professions could implement to institutionalize this type of knowledge? Several things:
The Scout. Each year, roughly 85,000+ engineering graduates enter the profession. In their respective schools, professors deem a handful of people as “the rising stars.” Some are easily identifiable, winning student chapter awards or national student design competitions, making the Dean’s List, or winning top academic and leadership honors at graduation. No regional or national repository exists for those involved in engineering firm recruiting to tap into to annually review emerging young talent’s credentials. In pro sports, this is the Scout’s function who travels from city to city, watching people in action, talking with their coaches, etc. The opportunity exists to begin building a database of “ones to watch.”
The Draft. In the sports world, a formal process exists for bringing top talent together with top firms in an objective, organized way. The benefit is that everyone involved knows all the candidates at the outset to compare credentials. Yet, no such process exists to link engineering firms with the national engineering talent pool that emerges at graduation. True, some schools have established job bank programs to allow their own students and alumni to interact, yet most fall woefully short of the potential that exists or simply serve the immediate region.
The Rookie. Once a student makes the transformation from campus to company, their progress gets lost in the academic system. Professional society awards are one way that that young talented people, early in their career, remain visible. However, since a qualifying criteria is to be “under 40” that provides a window of nearly two decades of career growth and makes the assumption that all new grads have equal interests, skills and opportunities.
The Farm Team. Successful sports franchises’ system ensures a consistent supply of talent. Young talent is identified and sent to smaller, regional entities to ensure they acquire the skills necessary to compete in the upper echelons. For some, playing at this level will be as far as they progress, while others will clearly emerge as ready for the majors. In engineering firms, this manifests itself in several ways—the market sector studio, the discipline team or the branch office. Providing young professionals the chance to rotate through a variety of roles and project types will reveal where the person’s true passion and best fit lies.
Sports teams know that their people need to identify where they function best and then refine the specific skills to excel at those. Too often, in design firms, a person best suited to for actual project work gets promoted into project management or principal-level positions. Being a good center doesn’t mean someone will be a good quarterback. An ace engineer may not excel at managing people or projects.
The Major Leagues. Within any given sport, the top performers deliver results in spite of who wins their respective national championships. This is equally true with engineering firms. While there are large firms whose fortunes ebb and flow like the tide, there are others who experience steady growth and consistently maintain adequate backlog and profitability along with brand integrity. These firms are always recruiting strategic hires not just for the next year but for the next generation–that elusive but essential combination of talent and cultural fit.
The Dream Team. Through time and planning, any design firm can assemble or acquire a Dream Team for a particular market sector—where all of the positions are covered by people considered among the best in their profession in areas such as aviation, transit facilities, stadiums, toll roads and rail. Sometimes, dream teams aren’t built—they’re acquired. In other cases, through assembling a cadre of talented generalists, a firm assembles its own dream team for a specific geographic area. If you want to begin building your own Dream Team, there are several key things to begin doing right now.
Offer career opportunities, not jobs. Most jobs advertised on the major jobboards describe skills, duties and responsibilities–not exciting career challenges. This precludes the best from even applying. Define top performance for every job in a clear statement of what the person must do to be successful. By clarifying performance expectations you’ll attract top candidates and more accurately assess their competency. Use this profile to manage, reward and motivate your new team.
Figure out who you need to hire over the six months and the next five years. The hiring process needs to be forward-looking, providing time to find the best candidates available, and not lower your standards to succumb to business pressures to get someone “yesterday.”
Go after those who are looking for a better job, not those who need a job. Everyone knows that the best people are usually not found on job boards, which represented only about 10% of all hires last year. You’ll find better candidates through a formalized employee-referral program and an established relationship with a knowledgeable recruiter whose job it is to know who in the marketplace is discretely looking for that next rung on the ladder. Use a multipronged method to upgrade your sourcing programs to target the best.
Formalize a complete recruiting process, including practical training. Research shows that for most line managers, the typical interview is only 7% more accurate than flipping a coin. If everyone who plays a role in the hiring process from the receptionist to the president haven’t been thoroughly trained, you’ll wind up with similar results. Top candidates view a new job as a strategic decision based on growth opportunities and chemistry. They need more information than just compensation, benefits and job duties to make a decision—they want an inspiring interview.
Tie compensation to value to the firm, not salary structures. In the sports world, when pro teams want to attract super-athletes, their managers don’t say “Well, everybody else with X-year’s experience makes Y thousand dollars a year, so, as much as we like you, that’s as high as we go! They know that unique talent merits unique compensation. Most engineering firm managers still approach recruiting like they’re haggling with a car dealer…”How low will they go?” Recruiters across the country routinely share their frustration that deals frequently unravel over a salary difference of $10,000-$15,000—especially where there’s a dramatic difference in the cost of living. In one case, a firm lost the top candidate to a competitor because it refused to cover the candidate’s airfare for the interview. In another, the deal breaker was simply an extra week’s vacation.
In hot markets where the number of credible individual experts in the country can be counted on two hands, the difference between closing and blowing the deal can be the fee for just one small job. Design firms need to identify the top talent in their target or geographic markets, and then craft creative compensation programs that effectively combine salary with incentives. A prominent firm recently lost a nationally-renown market sector leader because it implemented firm-wide financial austerity measures with no raises, no bonuses and a 10% across-the-board pay cut for all principals, even though the studio of the person in question had posted record earnings for the period in question. Why? Another firm, already in the top five but vying for the top slot, saw an opportunity and seized it. Design firm success hinges on the synergy of individual talent with market opportunities. Attracting superstars and supporting them with a strong bench in sales, technology and operations will ensure that, when it comes to winning work, your firm will always get to the playoffs and may even win the championship.
About the Author: A former executive with the nation’s top A/E firms, accomplished author and agent of design firm change, Kerry Harding serves as President and Chief Recruiting Officer of The Talent Bank, Inc. an executive recruiting and management consulting firm founded in 1984, specializing exclusively in strategic recruiting of design professionals. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Featured Guest Blogger: Anthony Fasano, P.E., LEED AP, ACC
Civil Engineer, Author, Coach and Speaker
Author of Engineer Your Own Success: 7 Key Elements to Creating an Extraordinary Engineering Career (Available in May 2011)
Anthony is also the author of a FREE e-mail service for engineers called A Daily Boost from Your Professional Partner. Click here to read about this service.
The men’s college basketball’s annual tournament (March Madness) recently finished with the University of Connecticut coming out on top. For those of you not familiar with the tournament, it starts with 64 teams (68 now with the play-ins) and over a few weeks, 6 rounds and 59 games later there is one team left standing. What makes the tournament so special is that every team in it has a chance to win it; even the underdogs, often referred to as ‘mid-majors’ have the chance to make a run every year.
This year two of the mid-majors did just that. Butler and Virginia Commonwealth made it all the way to the final four and Butler to the finals amazingly for the second year in the row. During and immediately following the tournament there was a lot of talk about how the coaches of these two teams could pretty much write their own ticket to a ‘bigger’ college basketball school, which would be a step up in their career that would give them more money, more publicity and a better shot to win the tournament on a yearly basis.
While nothing has happened yet, it appears that both coaches are going to stay where there are. Yes that’s right, they are going stay with the their mid-major school. Are they crazy? That’s what many people are asking. Why would you turn down the opportunity to take a position at a bigger, better, more prestigious school (or company)?
Of course I can’t speak for either of these coaches, but here’s my take on the situation. We often hear people say that another civil engineering position is bigger, better, higher-paid, a better opportunity, however it doesn’t matter what people say, it only matters what the individual offered the position thinks. These coaches may consider their current jobs, their dream jobs. They are settled in the community with their family and they have no desire to move. They actually like the organization they work for and want to stay where they are. After all, if they took their mid-major school to the finals once (even twice) why can’t they do it again?
There is a huge parallel here for corporate professionals in the civil engineering community as we are often faced with similar positions. Do we take a higher paying job with that has an additional 30 minutes of commuting time each day? Do we sell our small company to a larger one? These questions can only be answered by the individual receiving the offer based on their goals and with the support and guidance of their loved ones. I just wanted to offer some food for thought in saying that bigger isn’t always better in your career!
Please offer your thoughts on this issue and if you were ever faced with a similar decision please share with us if you are comfortable doing so.
President, Precision Executive Search, Inc
Managing Partner, CivilEngineeringCentral.com
View Matt’s profile & connect with him on LinkedIn
For those of you football fans who watch ESPN’s Monday Night Countdown, you are likely familiar with their “C’Mon Man!” segment. For those of you who don’t have the slightest clue as to what I am talking about, in a nutshell, the Monday Night Countdown crew members compile moments from the past weekend’s games that leave you scratching your head and saying to yourself (or out loud in their case) “C’Mon, Man!”
Here is segment to give you the gist of what I am talking about:
Now that you catch my drift, after speaking with a number of my recruiting colleagues across the country, I have compiled my Top 9 ”C’Mon, Man!” moments from the world of civil engineering recruiting over the past year:
- A candidate who has been out of work for 6 months goes through three stages of the interview process, she is on the cusp of receiving an offer contingent upon references checking out and she provides a poor reference that sells her down the river…C’MON MAN!
- A candidate tells us all the motivations for him to consider a change, we provide an opportunity that meets all those needs and gives him a $25K/20% increase in his base salary. He verbally accepts to the hiring manager on Friday and then on Monday decides to stay where he is…C’MON MAN!
- We successfully recruit a C-Level candidate for an extremely confidential CEO search. The candidate is aware that this position must be treated with the highest level of confidentiality and agrees to abide by the “rules” of confidentiality. After being shortlisted by the existing CEO as a candidate, said candidate decides to call a friend AT THAT COMPANY in attempt to get some inside information on the company and ultimately spilled the beans…needless to say he knocked himself out of contention…C’MON MAN!
- A client asks us to conduct a search and bring candidates to the table for a Regional Manager position…a great candidate with a solid reputation is presented and interviewed, but the client is unable to provide ANY feedback until four weeks later, only to say “not interested.” That’s it? C’MON MAN!
- A client company has two candidates they are considering interviewing …one is unemployed and has some of the skills they are looking for…the other is gainfully employed and fits most of what they are looking for. The client company would rather interview the unemployed candidate first and make a decision because they are worried that the employed candidate may take a counteroffer…C’MON MAN!
- A candidate has been so brainwashed as an employee that he tells us he will never leave his current employer because it is the “best company to work for in the history of all companies ever.” Really? The best company to work for in the history of all companies… ever? C’MON MAN!
- A company wants a” rainmaker” who will significantly increase top line revenues for their office or company, but they are not willing to pay market value…COME ON MAN!
- We spoke with an engineer who diminishes the value of obtaining her PE because she says that she knows PE’s that she has worked with and she already knows WAY more than they do…C’MON MAN!
- A candidate was referred to us by someone we respect in the industry, yet they respond to our contacting them by making a completely egotistical and arrogant statements about how great they are….C’MON MAN!
These are just a handful of “C’MON MAN” moments that have happened in our industry over the past year. I know I am dishin’ it out here, but I will be the first to confess that we have had a few “C’MON MAN” moments on our end over the years as well that we have learned from. I guess it’s all a part of what makes our careers…and life interesting!
If you have any “C’MON MAN” moments from the world of recruiting or civil engineering that you would like to share, please feel free to do so!
One more thought…”Top 10″ lists, yes. But who the heck ever heard of a “Top 9″ list? C’MON MAN!!!!!