Civil Engineering Firms and Hiring Retired Military

August 28, 2012 at 10:48 am 2 comments

This week I was thrilled to hear a Client say “My ideal candidate would be someone who was in a leadership role in the Army Corps of Engineers, Navy, etc.” Throughout my 20+ years as an executive recruiter for the civil engineering industry,  I have usually heard the opposite. US civil engineering firms have tended to seek executive candidates who have run or are running other competitor consulting firms. It is certainly not politically correct to say, but I recall hearing “let someone else train those candidates what it means to make money and stay on budget. We don’t have the luxury to do so.”

It seems that there are stronger arguments to be offered for hiring retired/ex military. Traditionally, these are people who have been given assignments, challenges and missions with direction to accomplish them. They must succeed under unique circumstances, overcoming difficult obstacles.  They have been trained how to lead and how to motivate teams not only on a group level but an individual one.  These candidates can bring a unique and fresh perspective to the corporate climate.

To tell a retired Colonel who has successfully lead significant programs and large teams while navigating difficult terrain, that he isn’t the best candidate to run a civil engineering department, has been difficult and often frustrating. During this period of civil engineering rebuilding, I hope to see new perspectives on hiring retiring military!

What has been your experience?

By Carol A. Metzner
President, The Metzner Group, LLC and
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC home of
  View Carol’s profile & connect with her on LinkedIn

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Entry filed under: Career Development, Civil Engineering, civil engineering blog, Civil Engineering Companies, Civil Engineering Jobs, Federal Programs, The Workplace. Tags: , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Bruce Toro  |  August 28, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    A lot depends on the organizations approach to integrating the individual into the company..While the individual may have a proven track record in leadership…..their individual skill at managing an engineering company workforce may be too focused on the big picture and not focused on the details……which are necessary to keep clients happy,earn value on each project and not create liability for the firm.On the other hand many retired military have been exposed to large complex projects and held accountable for delivering them on time and within budget……with a little orientation on detailed design /Environmental/ or construction management…..projects completed in the private sector a successful career can be launched

    • 2. aepcentral  |  August 28, 2012 at 3:57 pm

      Thanks for your comments. Good points.


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