Strive to be a “Seller – Doer”

February 14, 2008 at 2:36 am 1 comment

By Matt Barcus
President, Precision Executive Search, Inc.
Managing Partner,

As a recruiter I hear it all the time from my clients, “We need a seller-doer, we need a seller-doer.”  Not only is it a tight market for technically strong and competent civil engineers, it is even more difficult to find my other favorite classification of engineer, “The Rain Maker.”  So now they ask us to uncover the perfect combination, not only someone who can make the rain, but someone who can analyze it, purify it, bottle it and get it out to the customer….ahhhhhh, yes, the SELLER-DOER!

Well, in order to make my job easier a few years down the road, I hope to reach as many civil engineering students and new graduates as possible with my thoughts here.  It is imperative that you learn and understand the pure engineering and the technical side of your profession – whether you are focusing on designing tunnels for transit authorities, laying out 7000 acre master planned communities, or preparing PS&E documents for a half-a-billion dollar toll road.  Learn the technology, learn the concepts, study up on the corresponding codes and ordinances and prepare yourself to sit for that PE Exam ASAP.  BUT, do not fall in the trap that many young engineers so often do by getting stuck behind the computer in their 8 x 8 cubical all day; get out!  Be proactive in learning the client and business and marketing side of things at an early stage in your career.  You accomplish this by requesting of your manager to tag along on some client meetings from time-to-time; by requesting to attend community planning meetings; by sitting in on presentations; by contributing to the preparation of proposals; by attending the occassional industry conference; by making presentations or writing papers for conferences; by attending specific marketing and business development workshops; the list goes on-and-on, but you catch my drift.  Of course you need to determine the timing of all of this as you have deadlines to meet and technical concepts to learn and understand, just don’t get bogged down in only the nuts-and-bolts for your first seven or eight years.

My point is, don’t sit on the sidelines and wait for those opportunities to come to you, go find them, and find them early on in your career.  This way, by the time you’ve got ten years under your belt, you will be able to pass out business cards with your name and the title of “Seller-Doer.”  Once you’ve received “Seller-Doer” status, please give me a call, I’ve got an opportunity for you…or two…or three.   Next stop – “Rain Maker.”


Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Jason Vaughn, P.E.  |  May 6, 2009 at 2:24 am

    Matt, I completely agree with you. I am a 27 year old registered professional engineer in South Carolina. I too often see young professionals that enter the engineering workplace and “get comfortable” with what they are doing. They are happy with a 9 to 5 in a cubicle. Never “get comfortable” no matter what your age, experience, or title. Life and work should be a continuous learning journey or experience. Set goals to motivate yourself, but realize there is no finish line. The journey should continue always. Enjoy it.

    Also, be available for meetings or discussions with clients. Do not make a habit of always talking on the phone or e-mail. Take clients to unch (existing or potential). Keeping the good clients is just as important as getting new clients. DO NOT BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS! You will be surprised sometimes from the in depth responses you get from people.

    Matt also gives great suggestions on how to “stand out”. Get involved with professional organizations, community projects, writing technical papers, etc… Do not wait on someone to hand you something….go get it. Be the person in the office the senior level professionals can give a problem and they know you will go above and beyond to answer the call.

    Realize the fact that you will fail at some point in your career. Make it a learning experience. Do not be afraid of failure. Look at it as an opportunity to learn.

    Last, but not least, communication is the key. The technical aspects of engineering are easy. The people skills and effective communication are the essential skills for a “Seller-Doer”.

    Best of luck to you all in you journey to becoming a “Rain Maker”.


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