Posts tagged ‘Civil Engineer’
Received a call today from a civil engineering Senior Project Manager. During the conversation he asked me “How does my salary measure up against others?” Over my 25+ years of recruiting, this is one of the most frequently asked question. And, it is not easily answered. Salaries range widely across the US. Benefit packages range widely as well. An engineer with a specific educational background and technical experience may make as much as $30K more in New York or Los Angeles then they do in North Carolina or Michigan. And with our recent blog on salary compression, salaries of two employees who sit next to each other with identical resumes may differ in compensation by several thousands of dollars!
Your human resources department is not going to share your colleagues salaries; however, they may share ranges for your position. That will give you a starting point.
So what is one to do? Short of interviewing with other firms to see what they may offer or talking to colleagues who work at other firms, here are a few sites that offer some guidelines.
Results are from salary surveys: indeed.com, simplyhired.com, ASCE.org, payscale.com. Keep in mind, that even the information on these sites vary greatly. After identifying various salary ranges, check out your cost of living comparison in your location with your salary here: cnn.money
How do you assess whether you are being paid competitively? Please let us know!
Salary compression has several definitions. It can be described as a pay inequity when new employees receive salaries higher than those salaries being paid to the current employees in similar jobs. Whether at an Executive Vice President level or Project Manager role, it can be demotivating to an existing employee. As we all know, salaries are supposed to be confidential, but most people know what their colleagues take home. One candidate who has been with his current firm for 20 years, told me he was rewarded for his loyalty with a much lower salary than a newly hired colleague. “I have warded off recruiter calls, direct invites from competitors at business meetings only to find out that new staff are receiving $10K more a year AND a signing bonus? I refuse to resort to threatening to leave to have the company equalize my pay.”
Pay inequity happens more than employers would like to admit and it is a difficult task to control. Engineering salaries continue to increase specifically for executives and those practice builders who can increase sales. New hires can only be recruited by offering them as much or more than existing senior professionals. Career employees with 20, 30 or more years of dedicated service often suffer the most under salary compression. Are they being penalized monetarily for their loyalty?
This is a nightmare topic for human resources executives. Many experts have written on this topic and even more human resources leaders have urged their CEO’s to address this issue. Here are some confidential comments from HR Execs on this topic:
“This phenomena is not unique to our industry. In my 30 + years across several industries, this is a very common dynamic across all professions and in all industries. My message to managers is to never try to go cheap when hiring someone because it will catch up to you quickly and you will not likely have the salary budget later to correct inequities.
We see it as a particular issue in our employees with shorter tenure as recent grads quickly are making more than those who graduated just a couple of years earlier. We programmatically review salaries of our young professionals each year to address compression issues.
All can see how free agency works in sports. Testing the market and going to the highest bidder is not difficult. The same applies to smart and capable professionals. The answer is to deal with the whole employment equation – provide competitive salaries, interesting and challenging work, in a good environment and you will be able to retain talent.”
“This is an ongoing issue, particularly within the oil & gas and mining sectors. We addressed this issue in a few ways; for long term key employees we instituted a deferred compensation program where they would vest over a three year period. Providing eligibility for stock grants was also put in place however this became an issue as well when hiring from other firms who had robust plans in place and expected to be compensated for what he/she may be leaving on the table. This is an ongoing challenge. The other reality is maintaining margins when increasing rates what is the appetite of the client? The other area where this occurs frequently is through the integration of acquisitions where there is potentially great inequity amongst the same roles and levels. “
“Unfortunately we see this all the time. Unless you are in the very top ranks, employees are needing move to a new company every 3-5 years to ensure their salary keeps pace with the cost of living. Staying at their current employer may offer a 2-3% merit increase or none at all. Taking the call from a recruiter and making the move to another firm, often results in a 10% or more increase. And in the current market, for highly sought after talent, the increase for engineering talent is warranted. Unfortunately, the loss to the company is far greater than paying a more substantial increase to keep top talent, cost to recruit, onboard, client relations, just to name a few.”
Have you experienced this yourself as an employee or manager? If so, how did you handle it?
Another casualty of the economic downturn: The Civil Engineering Internship. Recently I received a call from a career development coordinator for the engineering department at a respected University. We discussed the difficulty in finding internship placement for her recent civil engineering graduates. In the past, the department saw each graduate easily find civil engineering apprenticeships. In the past 2 years the University has struggled to find any for their students, let alone jobs post graduation.
When I worked as a corporate recruiter, internship experience was an added value on a resume. Whether it was working with a summer survey crew or assisting in processing plans, the students with experience received favoritism from many hiring managers. These students were perceived as having valuable practical knowledge. One manager said “this student knows what it means to get up and go to work at a civil engineering firm.” He would routinely hire these students over their counterparts who had no relevant apprentice accomplishment.
While some civil engineering firms have been hiring, they are holding on bringing in students. What will the effect be on the civil engineering profession 4- 8- 12 years from now?
civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion
It is that time of year again and the political landscape is heating up! A Google search shows that past/current Mayors of Omaha, NE, City of East Orange, NJ and Norton, OH were/are civil engineers. Current Portland, OR Mayoral candidate, Steve Sung, spent 32 years as a civil engineer for the city of Portland. With two candidates for California and Indiana congress, civil engineers are “taking to the streets” to lead policy formation.
Recently I asked civil engineer and past Mayor of Frederick, Maryland, Jeff Holtzinger, for his thoughts on civil engineers and local politics. Here is his comment:
“Civil Engineers are a good fit to solve the problems many cities are facing with aging infrastructure and infrastructure that has been outpaced by growth. I also think the analytical thinking which is part of an engineering background gives engineers an advantage in problem solving.”
As our cities’ infrastructure decays, having a background in civil engineering seems to bring an added benefit to the political table. It would be interesting to see if cities with civil engineering trained Mayors have better infrastructure at the end of their term than similar cities.
What do you think?
It was not too long ago that the infrastructure and construction boom in the UAE and the surrounding Gulf Region was all the rage. Take a look at this segment from a Discovery Channel special on Dubai to see what I am talking about:
Over the course of my conversations with civil engineering professionals I always like to ask what their take is of the marketplace and how things are going in their regions and where they see the next big area of growth (from both a disciplinary and geographical perspective). Over the course of the past week or so I have spoken with engineering professionals and executives at numerous consulting firms who alerted me to the fact that Brazil is booming and the demand for new and upgraded infrastructure is strong; as a result, they had recently, or were in the process of, setting up shop there. Now, that same demand can be said for the US as well, but as you well know, the Federal government all the way down to local municipalities are so strapped for cash that nothing much is being accomplished when it comes to improving our infrastructure. So while we sit around with our hands tied as our interstate highway system is at or exceeding capacity, while more and more US bridges become structurally deficient, and while the concept of a US high-speed rail system continues to receive much scrutiny and criticism, Brazil has a World Cup to host in 2014 and an Olympic Games to host in 2016; can you imagine the beating that their infrastructure will take (even if it is only for small period of time)? And with these major events come a true sense of urgency for all things infrastructure …and more importantly, the deep pockets to support them! Brazil’s National Development Bank (BNDES) will likely lend $29B for infrastructure in 2012, and the Brazilian government is projected to spend $25.3B on their national rail network alone by 2014.
With the onslaught of visitors expected, the infrastructure will need to meet the demands. Airport expansions are underway often with monorail systems; construction of hotels, stadiums, commercial and retail centers is booming; rail, urban transit systems and traditional highway and roadway projects are abundant, and there is a healthy investment in water and wastewater infrastructure. And, according to an October 2011 article on Investopedia.com,
“The sporting events are just the beginning to Brazil’s infrastructure build-out. Last year, outgoing president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, launched a $900 billion infrastructure plan which focused on improving transportation, electrical supply and the nation’s ports. Similarly, current President Dilma Rousseff, has also pledged to improve infrastructure via massive public works plans.”
With all of the investment in infrastructure, Brazil will be poised for economic growth for generations to come.
If it hasn’t already been pounded into your head by now, we are a global economy and as opportunities arise in overseas markets for a struggling civil engineering and construction community here in the US, why not take advantage of these types of opportunities? What has YOUR company done to get a piece of that pie? And from a career standpoint - if you are looking for adventure, what a great opportunity!
Every new year many of us assess our job. As an architecture and civil engineering executive recruiter, I find January to be a very busy month! New year resolutions abound. Candidates tell me that they will not spend another year working for a company or supervisor that doesn’t appreciate them…at a job that is no longer challenging or exciting. They won’t continue to go to work each day to be surrounded by people they don’t respect. It is time for them to be energized.
What questions should you ask yourself to determine if it is time to explore a new opportunity?
Is my current company growing, shrinking or staying the same size? Do the company leaders communicate with all employees about the “health” of the firm? Do they communicate about their strategy for growth for the company? Are my values the same as the firm’s? Do I respect the company leaders? How is the company viewed in the industry?
Does my supervisor have and exhibit the qualities I respect in a manager? Am I learning from him/her? Does my supervisor keep me motivated on projects and informed about my career path? Do I feel comfortable asking for help or discussing situations?
Do I have established relationships with others in the company? Do I look forward to working with these people or do I dread walking through the office or visiting the lunch room? Are my team members collaborative or self-serving? Are they supportive or challenging?
Am I able to work on projects that are challenging and diverse? Do I like the work that is presented to me? Do I have an opportunity to learn and try new skills? Do I have autonomy to do my work? Do I have the ability to contribute to the overall success of the firm?
Do I receive a competitive base salary? Did my company change their benefit plan so I pay more for less? Am I receiving incentive bonuses for exceptional work?
There are many other questions to ask when deciding to make a job move. It is important to make an informed decision. Changing jobs is often more emotional than logical. Before wasting your time, a recruiter’s time, your current employer’s and potential future employer’s time– do your homework and evaluate your situation.
One thing is for sure: If you “can’t take this.. not another day” at your current job, then start exploring your options!
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
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.
I read a book not too long ago entitled Getting Things Done by David Allan. The book provides strategies and an overall process for getting organized and becoming more productive. One strategy that I’ve been able to take from this book and not only use myself, but also help engineers to implement through coaching is David’s A to Z filing system.
It is common amongst us civil engineers for papers to pile up on our desk throughout the course of the day. Papers, plans, invoices, etc can swallow up our office. Every once in a while it will become so overbearing that we’ll take a whole day and clean out our office which usually consists of throwing most of these items out. Does this sound familiar?
David’s A to Z system is a great process that will help you to get and STAY organized. Here is how it works. Start by designating one large filing drawer or an entire filing cabinet for you’re A to Z system. Fill the cabinet with 26 hanging folders and label them A through Z. Next, start making a list of all of the items that you might file away (i.e. example, specifications, estimates, manufacturers information, stormwater guidelines, etc.). Then create a file folder for each one of these items and be sure to label them clearly. Then the fun part begins. Starting with your desk begin to file away items into the proper folders. You may have to create new folders along the way or slightly modify the system over the first few weeks. For example, you might have to decide on whether you want to use the word ‘drainage’ or ‘stormwater’ which will determine whether that folder ends up in ‘D’ or ‘S.’
After a few weeks of implementing this system, your office will be clean! Then you just have to work on keeping it clean, which is pretty easy with this system. As items come across your desk simply file them into the proper folder or create a new one, when necessary.
You may think that this system is extremely simplistic and actually it is. I have successfully implemented this system both in my office and in my home and I never have a problem finding something. I hope this tip is helpful for you can bring more balance to both your career and your life.
Please share any organizational strategies that you are currently using!
Finally, after months of suffering under a new regime as a result of a reorganization, or after months of being laid off due to a Reduction-In-Force, or after months of pounding your head on the proverbial “glass ceiling,” you have uncovered the perfect opportunity for the next step in your civil engineering career. After going through three or four rounds of interviews and conducting your own due diligence you find a company that is a good fit professionally, technically, culturally; and the path to your professional goal is crystal clear, assuming of course that you live up to your end of the bargain. But you are confident in your ability and there is no question in your mind that you’ve got what it takes to climb your way to the top. The offer comes through, the money is right, the benefits are on target, the performance metrics, though challenging, are attainable, and everything is on the “up-and-up.” And then you get to the non-compete/non-solicit/non-disclosure employment agreement. These agreements are no longer just limited to C-Level Executives or Partners, but now they are surfacing for Vice Presidents, Division Managers, and even Project Managers.
Suddenly some of that wind has been taken out of your sail.
Terminology and phrasing limiting you to go to work for ANY competitor within a 100 mile radius of any existing office, or limiting you from contacting any clients or prospective clients (prospective clients, well, that’s pretty much ANYONE), all while applying to not only to the company you are looking to join, but it all carries over in the event of an acquisition, which would further limit your geography, especially if acquired by a big civil engineering consulting firm with offices throughout the United States. Oh, and by the way, there is nothing indicating that you would be protected from any of this even in the event that you are laid off, your office shuts down, or if you were given the ultimatum to relocate. Sounds a little one sided, right? If left un-negotiated, you would have to switch careers altogether should you separate from the firm.
Putting into effect a non-compete for company executives or partners makes sense. After all, if they don’t have an ownership stake, they do at least have access to company financials and the intellectual property that has brought the company much success. They will also have access to clients that they might not have otherwise with other companies. I am personally not convinced that Non-Compete Agreements are necessary for Project Managers and others who do not have an executive role or who do not have “skin in the game,” but this is a trending policy in the civil engineering consulting industry.
Whatever the case may be, more often than not there are some areas that you should consider negotiating before accepting “as is” if you are not fully comfortable (please keep in mind I am not an attorney nor do I pretend to be – only in my own home when negotiating with my wife and kids):
-> If you are a company executive or partner, you may want negotiate some sort of severance package to help protect you and your family should you separate from the company as it will buy time for you to secure a new position within the other constraints of the agreement.
->If your non-compete contains geographic restrictions, make sure you would still have the ability to work for a “client” or client side company. In other words, make sure it is limited solely to competitors, not clients.
->Make sure that the agreement applies only to the company you are working for at the commencement of your employment, not any future acquisitions. For example – if your employer has 5 or 6 offices, but then is acquired by a national consulting civil engineering firm with offices in every major city across the United States, your options become extremely limited should you not negotiate this ahead of time.
->The non-solicitation of clients is an understandable clause – but if the agreement includes not only existing clients, but potential clients, then again you are limiting your options should you separate as pretty much everyone is a potential client. Try negotiating to only existing clients or those potential clients that have been proposed to over the past 12, 18, or 24 month period.
->Make sure that the non-compete portion of the agreement is null and void in the event of a lay off, a closing of the office, or an ultimatum to relocate with the company.
I am not an attorney, and neither are you.
No matter how dire your current work situation is, you should always go through a non-compete/non-soliticitation/non-disclosure agreement with a fine tooth comb, or even better, shell out some cash to have an attorney review the document – your wallet may become a little light, but that decision could easily save you thousands of dollars in the end… and much stress as well. You may even find that your non-compete agreement will not hold up in a court of law in your state.
Every agreement is different, and these are just a few thoughts based upon my experience in placing civil engineering professionals with consulting engineering firms. Any further advice you can give to the civil engineering community on this topic would be greatly appreciated!