Posts filed under ‘Civil Engineering Companies’

Does Company Size Matter?

choosing between companies

The 2016 job market is in full swing and with it, if you are lucky, comes choices. Seasoned professionals as well as graduate engineers find themselves approached with opportunities. Today’s civil engineering companies are as different as their employees. In your job exploration you need to define the type of employer you will best fit.

The 2015 ENR Top 500 list reflected most of the largest A/E firms becoming even larger as a result of mergers and acquisitions. Similarly, a number of firms who were not on the top 500 leaped onto the widely reviewed list.

As an executive recruiter, I experienced leaders from the top 10 firms make notable moves to much smaller firms. In each case, the executive wanted to join a firm where they felt they could have significant impact on company strategic direction and growth. They wanted to join a firm that they felt would allow them to “get back to the practice of civil engineering.” Conversely, during the last year a number of project engineers and project managers asked me if my larger clients had job opportunities for them. These job seekers specifically wanted to join the top 100 firms as they perceived these firms to get a bigger share of complex, huge and sexier projects.  In my opinion while these observations seem to be representative of a trend last year, there are a good deal of people who focus their job search not specifically on company size, but on the job itself.

Evaluating where you are in your career, defining your short and long-term goals, assessing culture, company leadership and peers at a new firm- these answers will helping you make a good decision to join a firm. Yes, size of a company does matter but should not be THE factor in selecting a new opportunity. What do you think?

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Carol Metzner President, The MetznerGroup Managing Partner, CivilEngineeringCentral.com

View Carol’s profile & connect with her on LinkedIn

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

March 28, 2016 at 3:34 pm Leave a comment

Missed Career Opportunities & Diminishing ROC

Timing the stock market is impossible…no matter what anyone tells you, it just can’t be done on a sustainable basis.  The same can be said when it comes to career opportunities.  Take a look at this chart:

Missed opportunities

There are a number of different directions I could go comparing your career to the stock market, but my message today is that if you try to perfectly time your career moves you will spend the rest of your career with the same organization.  If you miss out on opportunities that are presented to you for no other reason then “the timing is not right,” then you are diminishing your ROC (Return on Career).    Diminishing returns on career – here is what I am talking about:

  • Exposure to salary compression
  • No exposure to new people, new clients, new cultures, or new types of projects
  • No breaking out of your comfort zone
  • Missed growth opportunities passing you by
  • Creative and lucrative retirement savings programs

I’m not suggesting making a move every couple of years, because I still believe the “job hopping” mentality will catch up to you, at least in the civil engineering consulting world.  But if an opportunity presents itself, and I don’t mean one that is just  doing the same thing with a different company for a little bit more money, those are a dime-a-dozen, but something different and challenging that can take your career to new levels; don’t you owe it to yourself to at least explore the opportunity?  It does not have to be on company time, as most executives and hiring managers we work with are willing to meet first thing in the morning for breakfast, out for drinks or dinner after regular business hours, or even on the weekends.

Quite often when I approach candidates with career opportunities with clients that I am extremely passionate about I am told that “the timing is not right.” I get it, on the surface the timing is rarely right because:

  • You are in the middle of a project – but aren’t you always going to be in the middle of some sort of project or task?
  • You would feel guilty leaving your boss with challenging task of having to replace you or pick up your work that you are leaving behind – don’t you think if your boss was presented with a great opportunity he/she would consider it?
  • You feel as though you deliver great value to your employer and you would feel bad about leaving them in a bind – other valuable employees have moved on before you, yet the company managed to survive, and often thrive!
  • You are waiting on a bonus – there is a strong likelihood that that bonus can be equalized with a signing bonus from your new employer.

It is a great time to be a civil engineer as there are tremendous opportunities available with firms that are creating new positions due to growth, expanding into new services lines, and opening up new offices in new geographies, all of which present enormous upside for experienced professional.  Guess what? The folks that take on those new and exciting opportunities are in turn creating some quality opportunities within the firms they left.  So take a step back and reflect upon all you have accomplished, what your current career situation looks like, and what the future holds for you with your current firm.

Take a good, hard, honest look.

If you do not see that defined path for advancement, or if you find that you are too “comfortable” or “content” in your current role and see that that level of contentment is leading to complacency, then shed the “not the right time” excuse and take some time to explore what other opportunities may be out there.

Wayne Gretzky

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Matt Barcus
President :: Precision Executive Search, Inc.
Managing Partner :: CivilEngineeringCentral.com

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February 29, 2016 at 11:30 am Leave a comment

Hiring 55+: That Silver Hair May Be A Silver Lining

Goerge Burns
Back in 2012 I started a discussion on LinkedIn, and then wrote a blog in response to that discussion that revolved around the employment of those 55 and older.  The idea that employers shy away from hiring those with 35+ years of experience is disheartening and unfortunate, and in fact, in the line of business that I am in of recruiting civil engineering and land surveying professionals, this line of thinking is not necessarily uncommon.  The perception often is that those 55 and older are “riding off into the sunset” and lack the passion and energy.  Though this very well may be true for some, there are PLENTY of civil engineers and surveyors who are vibrant, passionate, extremely knowledgeable, and remain very competitive who see themselves working until their mid 70’s, or in the case of Bob Vollmer, until nearly the century mark…take a look:

In that LinkedIn discussion that I alluded to earlier, one of the participants commented as follows in regards to the “seasoned professionals” he works with:

“I am presently working with a group of seasoned professionals that can handle just about any problem with little direction. What a difference in the caliber of design product! The client knows and appreciates that quality and I am confident they will continue to use our service. Managers should be aware of the value of that quality and the little comparative cost difference as a percentage of the entire project it represents. “

That said, as the war for talent in the civil engineering and land surveying profession continues, don’t be so quick to toss aside that resume that shows a graduation date from the 70’s or early 80’s,

THAT SILVER HAIR MAY VERY WELL BE A SILVER LINING!

 

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Matt Barcus
President :: Precision Executive Search, Inc.
Managing Partner :: CivilEngineeringCentral.com

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February 1, 2016 at 10:15 am Leave a comment

Has Your A/E Firm Taken Over Your Identity?

question

Are you known as a civil engineer, architect, landscape architect and planner OR are you known as an employee of your employer?

Recently an outstanding executive engineer was set to interview with my client. This engineer had worked as a leader in his firm for 20 years. At the start of the process, he told me had participated in a three-month long interview process for another opportunity only to not receive an offer. He was informed that he was not hired in the previous firm because they thought he was known as “Bill Smith, ABC Engineers.”

In other words, he was no longer “Bill Smith, PE, well respected leader in the ACEC engineering community.” Instead he was known as “ABC Engineers’ Bill Smith.” The firm told him that they were concerned that he had been with his employer (and successful) for so long, that his identity with municipalities and agencies was too intertwined with his firm’s identity.

This made me wonder: Can a firm take over your professional identity? Do you become the “brand” of your firm?

A “personal” or “professional brand” is an identity built around you personally. It is in basic terms, who you are and how you want the world to see you. Personal brands can be flexible and are becoming helpful for use in your career – at all levels.  A “business brand” is an identity built around a company or business. These brands are usually not flexible and can be critical to a firm’s success or failure.

Many of us are taught to be aware of our behavior when we attend business functions as we are representing our firms. We typically introduce ourselves by our name and our company affiliation. To separate your professional identity from your company’s is tricky. That is where your personality and relationships come in. You are representing your company, but remember you are also your brand.

LinkedIn and other professional social media outlets are helping many of us develop our own “personal/professional brand.” Blogs, participation in technical associations, published technical papers, LinkedIn profiles and published writings (like this one you are reading) are great avenues to have people learn who you are and what you do. For example, after reading this, it would be my hope that when someone asks “Do you know anyone who is an architecture or civil engineering recruiter/headhunter?” that you would reply “Yes. Carol Metzner does that.”:)

 

Carol new profile

Carol Metzner President, The MetznerGroup Managing Partner, CivilEngineeringCentral.com

View Carol’s profile & connect with her on LinkedIn

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

January 27, 2016 at 5:14 pm Leave a comment

Honesty & The Exit Interview

Exit InterviewsExit interviews are rarely an enjoyable experience – for the company, or for the employee.  Now, from time-to-time “high fives” are given when sub-par, poorly producing employees resign. Or employees skip out to their car and begin gleefully singing and offering up a rapid fire of fist pumps in the air excited about moving on to a new employer. But I believe that in many cases, when someone resigns, a good, quality relationship is broken and the exit interview can be difficult.  That said, resignations and layoffs are a part of life, and companies and employees live another day and continue to prosper no matter how awkward that moment in the exit interview may be.    So often I hear about how exit interviews are a complete waste of time, and that they are more of a “that’s the way we’ve always done it” process and mentality, and really just a necessary evil.  But WHAT IF those employees who were leaving were REALLY honest, and that leaders conducting the interview truly ENCOURAGED honesty during the interview.  A true dose of honesty could make a great impact on many organizations, big and small, but a high level of commitment to the evaluation of results of exit interviews must be made.  Many organizational leaders are already stretched thin as it is, I get it, and putting in the time to undertake such a task likely presents great challenges and can easily be put on the back burner as other priorities take precedence…but what if?

If honesty is encouraged where as those leaving your company would actually feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, consulting firms and organizations who employ civil engineers could truly continue to evolve and better themselves.  Certainly there will be those employee experiences and comments that will be considered outliers, but if you are hearing a steady dose of what really works and what they really enjoyed, and continue to enhance that culture or those programs or those projects, you will continue to retain your top talent.  Typically employees are much more inclined to share the positive than the negatives , as they do not want to burn any bridges or hurt any feelings.  But by having an honest conversation with those exiting the building for the last time where they feel comfortable ALSO sharing the negatives can be of great value to an organization.

  • **Maybe a manage or director who is great and widely liked by clients shows a completely different persona to his employees, which leads to resentment or diminished morale.
  • **Maybe some of the systems that you have in place are antiquated and prohibiting you from keeping up or passing by the competition.
  • **Or maybe a branch or satellite office is not getting the attention from corporate leadership that it so desires, and as a result the staff working there feel like the ugly duckling.

There is a saying that I have heard a couple of times recently that states, “you don’t know what you don’t know.”    Try looking at exit interviews not  merely as a formality when turnover occurs, but try REALLY using them as a learning tool and a way to provide future value to your organization.
This was the third entry in our HONESTY series.  The first two entries in this series are as follows:

What to Expect as a Candidate from your Recruiter

What to Expect as a Client from your Recruiter

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Matt Barcus
President :: Precision Executive Search, Inc.
Managing Partner :: CivilEngineeringCentral.com

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January 22, 2016 at 12:18 pm 1 comment

Professional Registrations – More Than Wall Decorations

wall

For nearly 30 years I’ve been connecting employers and job seekers in the civil engineering industry. Sometimes I have someone who is a great fit for a position but the company does not want to interview the person. Why? Because the individual did not have a particular professional registration/license that the company felt would be valuable to the position – PE, AICP, LEED AP, PMP, etc.

Now before you fire off hate mail about the importance of professional knowledge and experience, I agree that both are important. That being said, a four-year degree and working for the same company for many years don’t mean you earned the right for job security or future promotions. Registrations are an unbiased barometer of your skills. They also illustrate your value, provide marketability and help you to stay current with industry knowledge and trends.

Show your Value
By showing your skills are up-to-date, you might be in line for the next promotional progression in your current or future role. You’re also showing your employer that you are a valuable member of the team and willing to learn new things.

Marketability
You may not think you need to be marketable because you’re not planning on leaving your current employer – especially in the current job market. With the many employer market driven changes and changing client loyalty, you should want to show you’re at the top of your game.

The days of employees working their entire career with one company are going the way of the Dodo bird. Employees often leave for new opportunities. (Sometimes too soon but I’ll address that topic in a future blog.)

And don’t forget about mergers, buy-outs or downsizing. As companies try to achieve greater success with reduced overhead (polite corporate speak for fewer people), they will want individuals who are among the best in their field. Registrations are another way employers’ view that you go above and beyond what is asked by putting in the time and effort.

Stay Current
Sure you have your undergraduate degree and possibly a masters or Ph.D. You also have on-the-job training and years of experience that you couldn’t pick up from the classroom. You also supplement workplace information with seminars and journals. Registrations or new accreditations are third-party recognition that you’re keeping your expertise current. It also shows that you passed an industry’s measurement of knowledge. It’s not a joy to complete, but you’ll thank yourself weeks, months or years down the road.

Now I’m not saying that licenses are the Holy Grail for a successful career. You still need to know your stuff and prove your worth. But as the job market expands and companies search for the best and the brightest to achieve greater success, professional registrations could give you an edge over another person for a promotion or a future job search.

Do you think that registrations are valuable to augment industry knowledge or are they over-valued and not worth the personal investment? Let us know.
Carol new profile

Carol Metzner President, The MetznerGroup Managing Partner, CivilEngineeringCentral.com View Carol’s profile & connect with her on LinkedIn civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

December 8, 2015 at 10:17 am Leave a comment

No Time For Waste(water) In DC!

DC tunnelAn earth-moving event is underway in Washington D.C. Only this time it’s not on Capitol Hill. This one is happening approximately 100 feet underground to fix runoff and wastewater problems that have afflicted the District of Columbia since the 1800’s.

DC Water is conducting a $2.6 billion project to install 13 miles of new sewer tunnels under the nation’s capital. This effort will be the largest infrastructure project for Washington, D.C. that most people will never see. The effort, expected to be completed in 2022, will clean up local waterways while fixing an antiquated and poorly designed wastewater infrastructure.

Around the time of the Civil War, the district installed a combined sewage system. So when it rains, storm water mixes with wastewater and overwhelms the current system. As expected, the result is disgusting!

Neighborhoods are forced to endure flooding and more than two million gallons of polluted water flow into the Potomac and Anacostia rivers, as well as Rock Creek each year. This isn’t the type of information to be found in flyers produced by the local board of tourism or in new home listings. On a positive note, the new sewer system is expected to decrease local flooding to only minimal rain water and reduce the runoff into nearby tributaries by 96 percent.

The first leg of the project was successfully completed in July 2015. The Lady Bird, a 440-foot long, 1,300 ton tunnel boring machine, completed a 4.5 mile long conduit wide enough for subway cars. After two years, Lady Bird traveled approximately 4 inches every minute, 24-hours each day for six days each week. It cleared earth and rock while also laying reinforced concrete walls as it advanced. For the next seven years, boring work for smaller passageways will continue in order to connect the remaining 8.5 miles of sewer lines to the large tunnel made by the Lady Bird.

The first update to the D.C. sewer system since the late 1800s will benefit thousands of people while improving quality of life. The underground project addresses local sewer problems that have persisted and magnified as a result of more than 100 years of urban development.

As a civil engineering recruiter, I see that mega projects to repair or replace infrastructures systems, like the improvement to D.C’s sewer system, the Crescent Corridor Extension and the future Tappan Zee Bridge, ensures a lively job market. What are some other needed infrastructure improvements to be planned and implemented?

Carol new profile

Carol Metzner President, The MetznerGroup Managing Partner, CivilEngineeringCentral.com View Carol’s profile & connect with her on LinkedIn civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

November 30, 2015 at 11:31 am Leave a comment

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