Civil Engineers: Laid Off? Now What?

November 17, 2011 at 9:36 am 4 comments

Matt Barcus
President, Precision Executive Search, Inc
Managing Partner,
View Matt’s profile & connect with him on LinkedIn

Each month at Precision Executive Search we reach hundreds of civil engineering professionals across the country in our recruiting efforts.   Beyond the normal recruiting conversations that are had I try to probe the minds of my candidates about different things they are seeing.     During the month of October we wanted to find out what all those civil engineers who have been laid off are up to.  Beyond just looking for a new job, have they left the industry altogether? Or have they maybe started their own consulting business?  Based upon the information we found out through our conversations, and based upon a poll that we posted on LinkedIn asking these very questions, here is what we came to find :

•About 63% are pursuing a new job

•About 12% have left the industry and are trying something different

•About 25% have started consulting on their own

It is the 25% that I would like to discuss.

While taking a bike ride on a crisp and colorful autumn morning with our children along the Schuylkill River Trail I was talking to a friend of mine who has been in technology sales with AT&T for over 15 years;  he mentioned that he would love to try something new. His job has become stagnant, the company has really changed, there is a lot of red tape, and he is beginning to yearn for something new; the thought of trying something new is a hard pill to swallow though since he has been at it for so long now. What he said was this,

I almost wish I would get laid off so my hand would be forced to do something different.

 Regarding those 20% I mentioned above who are have started their own consulting practices- these folks may be the future leaders of the industry; they may be the ones that start hiring people and getting people back to work; and they may have just started a business that will one day break into the ENR top 100. That’s the silver lining I see in all of this…for those folks that started their own consulting practices, their hands may have been forced, and if they take that opportunity to go “all in,” that pink slip they were handed may turn out to be the best thing that has ever happened to them!  And if you think it can’t happen, check out these firms:

Aging & Growing Gracefully:

Greeley & Hansen – started with 2 partners in 1914 and now have over 300 employees in 16 offices across the United States

Louis Berger Group – started in 1953 by Dr. Louis “Doc” Berger with a sole office in Harrisburg, PA, now an international consulting firm with thousands of employees

Just Getting Started:

Pacheco Koch Consulting Engineers – started in 1990 with 2 partners in Dallas, TX has since blossomed to dozens of employees in 3 offices throughout the state of TX

Borton Lawson – opened their doors in 1988 and now have 160+ employees in multiple offices throughout Pennsylvania

These firms were all conceived for different reasons and motivations.  If your reason is because you were laid off, then so be it; NOW IT IS TIME TO TAKE THE BULL BY THE HORNS!   I wish great success to all the new entrepreneurs our there who have decided to hang their own shingle, and maybe one day I will be blogging about how YOUR firm has thrived and how that may inspire others to follow in your footsteps!

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion


Entry filed under: Career Development, Civil Engineering, civil engineering blog, Civil Engineering Companies, Civil Engineering Jobs, Poll Results, The U.S. Economy & Civil Engineering, Uncategorized.

Civil Engineering, Contracting 101 & Ferengi HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Top 10 Blog Posts of 2011 from «  |  December 27, 2011 at 10:12 am

    […] 7.      Civil Engineers:  Laid Off? Now What? […]

  • 2. Screw Chart  |  December 5, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    I agree with Bill, definitely very inspirational. Sometimes people really need life to give them a huge push to really take a risk and start their own business. Many people are either too content, or too scared to take that entrepreneurial first step — too risky for those with a steady paycheck!

  • 3. Bill Fogell  |  November 23, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    That’s a very inspirational blog for entrepreneurs!!

    • 4. aepcentral  |  November 23, 2011 at 4:56 pm

      Thanks Bill! It’s no easy feat starting one’s own practice, especially in this environment, but if you can scratch and claw for anything that’s out there to buy time until things get better, the concept of running your own business has many advantages; that said, you have to have the right personality and be extremely disciplined to run your own practice. Thanks for reading, and have a great Thanksgiving!


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