Posts filed under ‘Employee Retention’


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


As a Search Consultant specializing in the civil engineering profession,  I speak to dozens of civil engineers on a daily basis discussing with them their careers, their employers, their projects, what motivates them, their strengths and weaknesses, their likes and dislikes about their job, their career goals, etc.  When discussing their motivation for exploring new opportunities one thing I hear from time-to-time is how they would like to find an opportunity that is “fun.”    I am sure I just got a few chuckles there as the concept of having fun in one’s career is buried by deadlines, stress, non-stop meetings, overbearing bosses, needy employees, critical clients who are never satisfied, and pressure from outside shareholders who barely know what a civil engineer is…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg!   Everyone’s perception of fun is different, but is there REALLY a way to have fun as a civil engineering consultant?

Well, according to civil engineer and professional career coach Anthony Fasano, PE, civil engineers CAN have fun, and they SHOULD have fun.  Here is what Anthony had to say to me on this very topic:

” It’s amazing when I coach engineers on career growth and development, how many of them think fun and work can’t go together.  My question to them is, why would you want to do something for 40 plus hours a week if it’s not enjoyable?

Many professionals ask, how can I make my career more fun?  First of all, if you are passionate about what you do, you will have a lot of fun.  Another tip I always give engineers is to get out there and network.  Build relationships in your industry through professional societies and other networking groups.  Do it with the goal of building lasting relationships and you will find that your days are much more enjoyable.  Building personal relationships in your industry can greatly increase your level of enjoyment.  Don’t just join these organizations, get involved!

You only get one career, why shouldn’t it be fun?”

So as you ponder your career and some different ways that you can inject some fun into it, take a look at Chris Stone’s Summary below.  Chris is the President of Clark Nexsen, a 90+ year old AE firm based out of Norfolk, VA.    I uncovered Chris’ profile on LinkedIn, and his profile was the inspiration for this blog…check it out:

 LinkedIn Summary
I am a dynamic figure, often seen scaling walls and crushing ice. I have been known to remodel public schools on my lunch breaks, making them more energy efficient. I write award-winning operas, I manage time efficiently.

Using only a hoe and a large glass of water, I once single-handedly defended a small village in the Amazon Basin from a horde of ferocious army ants. I am the subject of numerous documentaries.

When I’m bored, I build large suspension bridges in my yard. I enjoy urban hang gliding. After work, I repair electrical appliances free of charge. I am an abstract artist, a concrete analyst, and a ruthless bookie. Critics worldwide swoon over my original line of corduroy evening wear. I don’t perspire. I am a private citizen, yet I receive fan mail. I have been caller number nine and have won the weekend passes. I bat .400. My deft floral arrangements have earned me fame in international botany circles. Children trust me.

I can hurl tennis rackets at small moving objects with deadly accuracy. I once read Paradise Lost, Moby Dick, and David Copperfield in one day and still had time to refurbish an entire dining room that evening. I know the exact location of every food item in the supermarket. I have performed several covert operations for the CIA. I sleep once a week; when I do sleep, I sleep in a chair. The laws of physics do not apply to me.

I balance, I weave, I dodge, I frolic, and my bills are all paid. I participate in full-contact origami. Years ago I discovered the meaning of life but forgot to write it down. I have made extraordinary four course meals using only a mouli and a toaster oven. I breed prize-winning clams. I have won bullfights in San Juan, cliff-diving competitions in Sri Lanka, and spelling bees at the Kremlin. I have played Hamlet, I have performed open-heart surgery, and I have spoken with Elvis.

Bottom line, I enjoy life and do not take myself too seriously.

Chris’ summary is taken from one of the most quotable texts found on the internet,  Hugh Gallagher’s famous College Application Essay.  Now I’ve never spoken to Chris, but after reading his profile summary on LinkedIn, if he truly looks through his lens on life with that perspective,  I would bet that his career success can been partially attributed to his ability to have fun.  So the question remains,

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

May 17, 2011 at 9:01 am 2 comments

The Contracted Workforce As The New Paradigm?


Babette Ten Haken
Sales Aerobics for Engineers
Internet Business Development Strategies for Manufacturers, Distributors and Service Companies

Featured Guest Blogger: Babette  Ten Haken
Sales Aerobics for Engineers
Strategies and Toolkit for the Sales-Engineering Interface
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Read The Sales Aerobics For Engineers Blog

Understanding the value of your employees (aka, “human assets”) and recognizing where there are gaps is essential to fulfilling your business goals and strategic objectives.  The workplace is changing, that’s for sure.  The economic downturn of 2008 resulted in downsized companies and a burgeoning pool of individuals available to keeping companies functioning – and profitable.

Evaluating the WHO of your business by aligning personnel with the WHAT you are trying to achieve is becoming a bit of an art form.

The architectural and engineering community has a long tradition of ramping their workforce up and down to meet project demands. Nothing new here. The accordion-like nature of the employment paradigm within this community has long been juxtaposed against a business model and employee expectations of  establishing a lifelong career with a company.

Now there are a lot more folks available to be deployed on a contractual basis on behalf of your company.  These are the folks who, perhaps, never were going to be lifelong company men or women for one reason or another. Yet they haven’t gone quietly into the night. Rather, they are very available and can become valuable, albeit transient, assets against a timeline or a project deadline.

I am quite certain that when these individuals entered their career path,  they never considered the changing face of the workforce of 2010 and forward. And then there’s the consideration that the newbies entering the workforce in 2008 were well aware of the difficulty it might take to land, and retain, employment.  While some are still waiting to become company men and women, others have joined the rank and file of the contract work force.

The fact is, the status quo has changed. The workforce paradigm is shifting. There is an entire career path consisting of project-oriented deployment. There is an entire workforce of experienced, deployable individuals – and newbies – who have come to understand that even if they are employed for the duration of the project, their success does not ensure a permanent position as reward for a project well done. The economic realities of their company may never permit permanent employment.

The paradigm of the mature, contracted workforce can play to their strong suit: some of these individuals will never be around long enough to be disruptive, which may have been their undoing in a former place of employment.  Having a resume of contracted projects may prove to make a stronger statement about their capabilities than a resume that is perceived as a track record of failure: no more than three to five year tenures with multiple companies.   While this type of individual is not unique to this time in history, the numbers of such individuals may be.

The problem is that the business model paradigms and the cultural paradigms into which the contracted workforce is placed remains based on outmoded mindset and structure.  I mean, how can you go from contracted job to contracted job without benefits? How can you describe these transient assignments to your advantage as a means of showing the value you provide to an organization?

For the time being, things are tremendously out of sync, aren’t they? Even when permanent employment is offered, no one is quite sure how long it’s going to last.  The cultural / societal infrastructure hasn’t quite caught up (or even begun to deal) with the reality of the contracted workforce.  And yes, we could and probably should discuss and debate this inequity for a long time. Not exactly the employment model, or career goal, that many individuals in the current workforce were brought up –  or taught –  to target.

If you have gaps in your ranks, give great consideration not only in how you will fill them but with whom.  These folks are hardly “stop gap” personalities, some having substantial careers under their belts. And if you are considering a career focused on filling gaps in the employment ranks, on an ongoing basis, don’t think of yourself as “less than,” but rather, an individual who is perhaps – in most instances – “more of” what is called for in the changing paradigm of the workforce of the future.

Something to think about, isn’t it?

January 25, 2011 at 10:52 pm 1 comment

A/E Firms: The Younger Boss – Older Worker Situation

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

An AARP report suggests that over 70% of us will work past normal retirement age. Many architects and engineers are delaying retirement or returning to work. We are seeing architectural and civil engineering companies confront the situation of “younger” boss overseeing the “older” worker.  So what are some of the relationship pitfalls of a new boss who comes in and is younger than their staff?

Let’s address three younger boss and the older worker possible interactions and how to make them successful experiences:

– Experienced engineers and architects tell me that many “younger” supervisors are closed off to assessing project team successes. Many new, younger bosses think that older workers are difficult to manage and they can be resistant to change. They may have the – if it isn’t broke then don’t fix it- mentality. Younger bosses come in with enthusiasm, energy, arrogance and don’t want to be told how to do something by their staff. It is the “everyone wants to be heard, but nobody wants to listen” issue. Both supervisor and staff need to appreciate each other’s experience and talents. Open, honest, two-way conversation is a must in any relationship. Preconceived notions of each other has to be put aside.

– Younger managers may view managing older workers as that of “managing my parents.” How does a supervisor talk about building a career to an employee with 30 years of experience? How do they mentor these employees? As an employee you should discuss how you have been of value to the team. Are there areas you want to explore in your work – new technologies to learn? Did your past supervisor hold you back from further training? This could be a chance to have a new, clean slate in your work. Help your boss to understand how to work best together; what are your goals? Younger bosses need to help their staff to think out of the box. Perhaps you have some creative ideas to help staff to be more enthusiastic about their work. Are there new technologies you can suggest?

–  Robin Throckmorton, co-author of “Bridging the Generation Gap” describes how younger bosses are more apt to assign a project and expect the employee to go off and complete it. If they communicate on the project they would prefer email to face meetings. Older staff like to have meetings to discuss the project, goals, status updates. Compromise. Many great leaders understand the importance of understanding how someone works/learns best and then fostering an environment that will allow for success.

For this blog, I have offered just these three examples of potential pitfalls in the younger boss – older worker situation. Good COMMUNICATION is a necessity in all supervisor – employee relationships; most especially in this kind! Keep in mind that stereotypes have to be left at the company front door on both sides. Older workers need to trust that upper management has their best interests in mind when they make supervisory changes and younger bosses need to respect the value that older workers bring to the team. Older workers’ insight and knowledge teamed with younger supervisors’ new ideas and techniques can be an unstoppable success!

Believe it or not, wisdom does come through experience. In my thirties, I was convinced I knew everything…now in my late forties I know I do! 🙂

What have you experienced in your office? Or, what stories have you heard? Bookmark and Share

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

September 8, 2010 at 7:38 am 1 comment

Civil Engineering Salary Cuts and Layoffs Continue

By Carol A. Metzner
President, The Metzner Group, LLC and
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC home of

Last year an executive at a national civil engineering firm was overheard saying that staff who held the company “hostage” by demanding high salaries and outrageous benefits were now getting a cold reality. They would either accept pay and benefit cuts or would be welcome to leave. After all, they could be replaced by other talented civil engineers who would be happy to have a job. This executive thought the company had been strong armed into high salaries and comprehensive benefits in a demanding marketplace. Additionally, he decided that many employees showed no loyalty to the company during good times. Staff threatened to leave for opportunities and remained when they received counteroffers. Now, he felt that “what goes around, comes around.” Engineering businesses are known as professional services firms. They are only as good as the talent they have on their teams…and the amount of projects in the marketplace.

Salaries respond to market conditions. Clients are driving the lack of return to normal as the supply of work remains low. When engineering consultants are busy, clients are willing to pay higher fees to secure the firm they want planning, designing and constructing their projects. Likewise, when firms are looking for projects to keep their staff employed, salaries are lower as are winning bids.

Salaries are also reflected by the great purge of 55 – 65 year old staff. As politically incorrect as this is to discuss, this economy has allowed firms to let go of senior civil engineers who are technologically deficient in deference to hiring younger professionals who are more marketable. These younger staff  are LEED accredited, BIM proficient, command lower salaries which means lower bill out rates and potentially more winning bids.  It is more economical to have a senior civil engineer oversee as a QA/QC manager, while junior and mid level engineers produce the work. The job market is now flooded not only with 2009 and 2010 graduates, but also with 35-45 year experienced engineers. Although I understand the thought process behind keeping salaries low in a competitive market for project wins, my previous blog comments in “Never Underestimate the Gray Haired Engineer” holds true. (A future BLOG will discuss the ramifications of removing senior engineers to save dollars).

Firms need to remain competitive to win work. While most will agree that civil engineering salaries had finally reached the level of their high tech counterparts, the economy could not sustain them. Infrastructure needs, natural and man made disasters will force work to our marketplace. But, the economy and clients (both governmental and private) will dictate industry salaries.


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

June 2, 2010 at 8:23 am 15 comments

A/E Firms: Is Your Competitor Better At Dating?

By Carol A. Metzner
President, The Metzner Group, LLC and
Co-Founder/Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC home of

Imagine that you are asked to interview with an architectural or engineering firm. The corporate recruiter tells you “The interview will last 45 minutes. There are 5 candidates coming in to interview for 1 opening. You have 45 minutes to talk to the hiring authority. We will let you know in a couple of weeks who our chosen candidate is.” Anywhere in that conversation did you hear “We are excited that you are coming to meet with us. Hopefully we have a good fit with our opportunity and your talents.” ??? If this were a date, I would not have even shown up for coffee!

Even though there can be hundreds of applicants for one job, there are no excuses for recruiters AND hiring managers to forget that they need to sell their firms. Over the past couple of years, employers have realized that they are in the driver’s seat for many open jobs. Outstanding talent find themselves in a situation of competing for jobs with other really outstanding talent. Many firms, corporate recruiters and hiring managers have become arrogant and lazy. This behavior will lead to future recruiting and retention issues.

Several years ago one of my highly sought after senior candidates interviewed with my client. He was also interviewing with one of their competitors.  While my client was very interested to have him join their firm, their competitor pulled out all the stops throughout the interview process. The competitor’s CEO and a variety of other key company leaders called the candidate at various times over a week to tell him how thrilled they were to have the opportunity to meet him and that they were excited to have the potential to work with him. They did everything but send a new sports car to his house! He was direct in telling me that while he had established a great relationship with me and the executive he would report to at my client, the competitor just simply “out courted my client.” The competitor made him “feel” that they were excited “as a company” to have him on board. He was overwhelmed with the enthusiasm from his prospective colleagues. My client and I were crushed. Tough to hear.

The job market is increasing and firms that don’t step up their dating habits will find themselves with mediocre talent and an increase in open jobs as employees run to firms that know how to win them over! What are your thoughts? Have you seen this with your own firm or with your own interviews?

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

May 4, 2010 at 10:53 pm 10 comments

Get Rid of Performance Reviews?

Guest Blogger:  Larry Courtney

Owner, Larry Courtney Consulting

Management Consulting and Business Brokerage for Professional Services Firms and other    Businesses

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article about performance reviews by Samuel A. Culbert.  The article was adapted from “Get Rid of the Performance Review! How Companies Can Stop Intimidating, Start Managing — and Focus on What Really Matters.”*  Essentially the article makes the point that formal performance reviews, based on a recurring periodic calendar date, do not work, they are disliked by employees, and could even be detrimental from a legal perspective, especially when managers tend to provide inflated ratings.  Instead the article maintains, managers should be providing nearly daily feedback to employees on their performance.

I share the views of Mr. Culbert on formal “performance” reviews.  They just do not work.  For the vast majority of managers they are a quarterly, semi-annual or annual check off of a required task that is performed with the enthusiasm and grace  mustered for the attendance of a  public hanging.  The “performance” review is anything but.  Senior management touts that promotions, raises and bonuses (if they are still paid) are tied to performance reviews … not so and everyone knows it from the most senior to the most junior person in the firm.  Performance reviews are the “Kings new clothes.”  We all know they do not work, but we pretend they do.  Anyway, how can you neatly condense the performance of an employee down to a 2 or 3 page check sheet and a 15 minute discussion?  Well, maybe the question would better be stated, how can you realistically do it and expect to have the molding impact a performance review should have?  I have had numerous encounters where a manager wanted to fire a person; however, when the personnel file was reviewed, it was found that the same manager had rated the employee as average or above average during previous performance reviews.  When confronted with the dichotomy, the manager would say something to the effect: “I wanted to encourage them, so I gave them a good review.”  I wish I had a dollar for every time I have heard that.  Loosely translated what the manager is really saying is: “I don’t have the guts or I don’t have the basic interpersonal skills to be honest and forthright with the employee.”  Harsh? Not really.

The fact of the matter is, every employee deserves constant feedback, positive and negative (and both apply to every person), throughout the year and almost daily.  That feedback must be direct (not necessarily harsh … screaming and shouting is not what we are going for here), the feedback must be specific to the current task and relevant to the overall performance of the task or team.  For example, an employee who is consistently late may perform better than his/her peers; however, the tardiness is likely a distraction and point of irritation to fellow team members or employees.  Just for the record, “House” is a television show, not reality.  How can a person improve and attain his/her life and career objectives if they do not hear from others, especially their supervisors and managers, what is perceived to be the positive and negative elements about their performance.  I use the word perceived because it does not matter whether other people’s views are real or not, it is what they see and it is the responsibility of the one being perceived to change how others see them.  Life’s not always fair.  Wow, sounds like politics doesn’t it?  But I go too far.  Have you ever noticed how good leaders provide frequent feedback?  Since this tome is an expression of opinions, it is my opinion that being able to provide feedback to staff at the time it is needed and in the proper format to be accepted by the intended recipient, is an important element of leadership.  Performance feedback should help mold and shape staff into what they should be and what they want to be.

*Copyright 2010. By Samuel A. Culbert with Lawrence Rout. Published by Business Plus, an imprint of Grand Central Publishing, a division of Hachette Book Group Inc.  The article was published in the Wall Street Journal on April 19, 2010

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

April 27, 2010 at 12:16 pm 5 comments

Unhappy Civil Engineering Employees

By Carol A. Metzner
President, The Metzner Group, LLC and

Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC home of

Over the past several years, civil engineering employers were faced with dwindling backlogs, staff layoffs, benefit plan cuts and reductions in job fees. This year, those employers are now confronted with a “new” issue: unhappy staff.

The Charlotte Observer ran an AP article in January of this year. It cited study statistical findings:

…only 45 percent of Americans are satisfied with their work. That was the lowest level ever recorded by the Conference Board research group in more than 22 years of studying the issue.

In 2008, 49 percent reported satisfaction with their jobs.

The drop in workers’ happiness can be partly blamed on the worst recession since the 1930s, which made it difficult for some people to find challenging and suitable jobs.

The study suggests that even those fortunate enough to be employed are unhappy with their jobs. Employees under the age of 25 were the most unhappy, while those in the 25-34 age range were the most satisfied in their jobs. There were no stats for those in the over 34 age range.

Over the past 3 years I have spoken with numerous civil engineering employees who are unhappy with their employers. They report dissatisfaction with cuts in career opportunities, training, benefits and lack of team work. They resist looking for a job that may be more exciting and challenging.  They don’t want to be “last person hired, first person to go.” These employees would rather have a job and be unfulfilled, then risk being unemployed.

This sentiment is troublesome for employers. Unhappy employees are not only less productive, but studies show they are less creative and are poor performers. Their dissatisfaction can become like an epidemic infecting those around them. These staff often exhibit unethical behaviors and lose loyalty to the company. If managers don’t recognize destructive behaviors, then they will find themselves with projects that are overdue and over budget.

Employers must offer management training as well as other employee development programs. In the long run, these programs will be more cost effective then repairing the destruction of ongoing low employee morale.

For those unhappy civil engineering employees, last July’s blog: Civil Engineering Jobs – Will Any Job Do? discussed the importance of trying to improve your current situation. You need to take a shared responsibility for making your job or environment better just as your employer needs to step up!

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

March 30, 2010 at 5:49 pm 8 comments

Storm Water Job Trends

By Carol Metzner
President, The Metzner Group, LLC and
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC home of

The ever-shrinking job market, aging baby boomers and rapid technology growth have created a need for storm water generalists who can do it all—use off-the-shelf and proprietary tools to conduct modeling studies; plan, assess and design storm water and water resource projects; resolve complex problems such as conflicting design requirements and unsuitability of conventional materials; and prepare and review a myriad of reports, including technical and regulatory specifications, contract documents and cost estimates.

No longer is storm water management a niche position filled by hydraulic and hydrologic specialists; now it encompasses everything from business development to contract bidding and administration to project management.

Furthermore, storm water-related jobs are not limited to civil engineering and construction companies; they now are found in federal, state and local governments, scientific consulting and services firms, research and development companies and waste management organizations.

At the same time, rising population growth, crumbling infrastructure, growing concern for the environment and a need to comply with tighter environmental laws and regulations have created increasing demand for environmental engineers knowledgeable of storm water management. Many developers today are taking a proactive approach by working to prevent rather than control problems, requiring engineers who can use science and engineering principles to ensure the preservation of natural resources, the use of environmentally beneficial materials and the health and safety of residents. Environmental engineers also design remediation systems to counter the effects of pollutants on soil and groundwater and retrofit existing storm water systems to mimic predevelopment hydrology and restore ecosystems to their predevelopment state.

Storm Water Staff as Generalists

With unemployment on the rise, it is no surprise that some career boards report a 50% decline in the number of storm water-related jobs over the past two years. Fewer jobs usually means that the people who do have jobs have more to do, and that seems to be the case here. More storm water-related employees are expected to come to the job not only with knowledge of the general engineering field, hydrology, hydraulics and water quality, but also knowledge of best management practice design and local, state and federal water programs’ regulations as well as experience in site design, work plan development, data collection and analysis and preparation of technical memoranda, reports and presentations.

To get a job in today’s tight market, storm water-related workers must possess technical knowledge dealing with a range of topics, including soils, pollutants, watershed management, storm water/drainage management, water rights, water quality modeling, environmental permitting and economic analysis. In addition to these hard skills, engineers are expected to be fluent in softer interpersonal skills involving organization, management, communication and problem solving. Successful employees also need to be self-motivated, with the ability to work both on one’s own and within a large team environment.

Higher-level jobs require knowledge of and experience with more advanced topics such as conducting hydraulic, hydrologic and water quality modeling studies, using specialized computer software for data analysis, developing GIS applications and developing and updating computer code to create new analysis tools. Advanced workers also provide senior leadership for engineers involved in storm water-related projects and may prepare proposals and conduct other marketing activities to gain new business.

Storm Water Staff as Environmentalists

Engineers have a long history of working to minimize the environmental impacts of land development and to maintain or improve our nation’s environmental health. Many storm water-related workers are tasked with protecting our natural habitats, systems and resources by finding ways to maintain existing hydrologic patterns, reduce impervious surfaces, maximize undisturbed natural areas, minimize runoff and pollutants and take advantage of the natural retention, absorption and infiltration capabilities of vegetation and soils. Increasingly, environmental engineers are required to provide “green” and sustainable site management technologies and practices, making sure to integrate sustainability into every aspect of the development project.

In 1972, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enacted the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System storm water permit program to regulate sources, such as developments, that discharge pollutants into U.S. waters and waterways. In 2007, the EPA introduced the Green Infrastructure initiative to highlight opportunities for municipalities to increase the development and use of green infrastructure to infiltrate, evapotranspirate or reuse storm water.

Legislation is changing at a fast pace, and environmental engineers have to keep up with the latest rules, regulations and enforcement procedures at all government levels. Increasing numbers of localities are adopting low-impact development ordinances as treatment control for pollutants and pursuing the U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification. To comply with these environmental regulatory requirements, engineers must be familiar with the specifics of the ordinances and engineering standards related to storm water management in addition to keeping accurate, clear and concise records.

To complete a land development project successfully, environmental engineers have to examine the project in its entirety, considering each design decision in terms of costs and benefits not only to the company and client but also to the environment and balancing the costs of different types of green materials with the benefits of long-term storm water management.

Keeping Employed/Staffed

As this article has shown, storm water management trends, technologies and legislation are ever-changing. In order to maintain a job in this field, it is more important than ever for storm water-related workers to take advantage of every continuing education opportunity that comes their way.

To be successful, storm water-related engineers need a strong understanding of the water/storm water industry and new design standards and technologies. They also need experience in water resources, drainage, flood control and green infrastructure technologies. These individuals must read technical journals, attend professional conferences and interact with colleagues in order to keep up to date on the latest materials, standards and technologies and offer the greatest value to their employers. Even experienced storm water-related engineers need to keep abreast of the latest topics and often can benefit from a refresher course on the basics.

In the same way, if companies want to keep their employees, they must provide not only competitive salaries and benefits but also opportunities for continuing education and enhancement. In today’s work environment, learning new things can be a win-win situation for both employers and employees.

This article was written for Storm Water Solutions publications.  Please visit their site:

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

March 15, 2010 at 9:21 pm 6 comments

10 Ways Social Networking Can Impact Your Business & Career As A Civil Engineering Professional

By Matt Barcus
President, Precision Executive Search, Inc.
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC, home of

Remember when musings of the Internet was just a fad?  Remember when the compass and slide rule were irreplaceable?  Remember when the Post Office was relevant?   Well, as it turns out, the  Internet is here to stay; if you have a compass and slide rule you just might get your 15 minutes of fame on PBS’ Antiques Road Show; and I can’t recall the last time I paid bill or sent a hand written letter via snail mail. Compass That said, consider yourself forewarned in regards to the utilization of Social Networking sites LinkedIn (44M+ users), Facebook (250M+users) and Twitter (4.5M+ users), among others – don’t be a naysayer, or you will be left in the dust.  Chances are, if you are reading this, you are familiar with, and hopefully active on, one or more of these technologies.  The key is – how can you make sure your company stays relevant by using them effectively?


1. Recruiting Professionals – Did you see the user statistics in the above paragraph? And those are only the three most popular sites among hundreds.  And guess what?  I suspect there are likely hundreds of thousands of members of the civil engineering community  who utilize these tools and share information. They have put themselves “out there.”   By joining these networks yourself and “working the network,” you will find many outstanding professional candidates, both passive and active.  This topic of recruiting on social networks is quite a robust topic and information can easily be found online, in books or through various seminars.  There are plenty of experts in this area so invest a little bit of time and money to catch you and your firm up to speed.

2. Industry News – Facebook, Twitter & Linkedin all have users and user Twitter Logo Headergroups who will be of interest to you.  You will find that ENR, ASCE, Society of Hispanic Engineers, SMPS, etc all have active users and groups on these sites where news bites and press releases are shared regularly. Also, by connecting with other friends and colleagues within the industry you will often read status updates or tweets in regards to local infrastructure news.

3. Relationship Building – Learn what your colleagues, clients, and potential clients are doing; learn their interests; follow their tweets; make logical and profound comments in response to theirs.  You  can get a real sense of their personality, interests, etc that will certainly assist during face-to-face marketing efforts.

4. Marketing/Branding – Develop a Facebook Fan/Group page with blog entries, promotions, press releases, wins, job postings, awards, charity events, etc.;  tweet these same items; develop a compelling corporate profile on LinkedIn and make sure your employees do as well.

5. Recruiting College Students-This is a “no brainer”.  If you want to reach out to the next generation of civil engineers you need to have a strong corporate brand on Facebook and MySpace for sure.  Join the Fan Page on Facebook!When visiting college campuses for recruiting trips have a couple laptops up and running at your table exhibiting these pages and invite them  to join your pages or groups on line.   Come prepared with business cards that provide the URL’s of your corporate social networking sites.  College students want to work for firms that understand and are avid  users of the web 2.0 technology that they utilize.  85% of college students are active on Facebook, 65% are active on MySpace.  Again, a “no brainer.”

6. Recruiting Boomerangs – How often have you had employees of your firm fly the coup, only to return because the grass was not greener on the other side?  By staying in touch with well respected ex-employees  by Linkedin Logoinviting them to join a group where they will be exposed to all the great news that is occurring with your firm, you are giving yourself a nice advantage above other firms when the time comes that he or she begins to look for a new job.  Firms like URS & Toll Brothers, among others, each have “Alumni” groups on Linkedin.

7. RFP’s – It’s only a matter of time before builders, agencies and architects will be tweeting RFP’s.

8. Professional Growth – By joining Facebook or LinkedIn groups, or by following specific associations or trainers or presenters on Twitter, you can remain well informed of all of the conferences, seminars, blogs, articles and publications being offered that you find relevant in your career.


10. Ignorance is Bliss.  Do not fall into this trap.  These networks are no longer the wave of the future, they are a mainstay.  As a civil engineering professional, by not jumping on board you will become a relic – and this label is not something you or your firm will want to be labeled as as the demand for talent begins to hit the upswing.

As you can see, I intentionally left a blank space after #9 – what might you suggest to fill in that blank?

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

August 12, 2009 at 4:06 pm 10 comments

Use the Downturn to Make Yourself Part of a Winning Firm

By Bruce Lynch, Vice President of Publishing, PSMJ Resources Inc.
For over 30 years, PSMJ Resources, Inc. has offered publications, educational programs, in-house training and management consulting services to A/E/C professionals worldwide. PSMJ Resources conducts more than 200 educational seminars and conferences annually, supported by major professional societies, including AIA and ACEC. Headquartered in Newton, MA, PSMJ Resources provides more than 150 titles in book and audio, and publishes three newsletters about A/E/C firm management. PSMJ Resources also produces the industry’s preeminent annual surveys on management salaries, financial performance, fees and pricing, and benchmarks for the design firm CEO. On the web:

I have spent the last few weeks interviewing the PSMJ Circle of Excellence Class of 2009. Circle of Excellence firms ranked in the top 20 percent of firms participating in PSMJ’s Financial Performance Survey that achieve the best overall performance in 13 benchmarks that measure business operations in terms of profitability, growth, cash flow, overhead control, business development, project performance, and employee satisfaction.

Virtually every executive I have spoken with from this exclusive group of design firms has told me that they have used the economic downturn to improve the overall quality of their staff.  Many super-talented people with very impressive resumes – as well as star students coming out of design schools – are available and obtainable for firms that have the muscle to make it happen.

Are you one of these people that’s going to add value to a firm that is prospering in the face of tough economic times?  There are a number of factors that determine the answer. In general, firms that are looking to upgrade staff try to improve their overall position in specific geographic locations, in services offered, and in markets served.  To upgrade at the management level, firms are looking to hire market and/or thought leaders.  In upgrading staff, firms are looking for people with direct apples-to-apples experience with a specific market or service offering or that bring valuable knowledge on the latest technology.

Here are some examples: If you are a project manager and you are a super client champion in a specific geographic area, research firms that may be interested in expanding their services in your area.  Sell yourself as someone who comes to the firm with a ready-made base of new clients.  If you are a K-12 program manager, look for healthy firms that may want to expand into the K-12 market – your addition to the firm gives them the opportunity to hit the ground running.  What if your expertise is in a market that is currently sluggish like residential construction?  Sell your value-add expertise.  Do you have relationships with zoning boards or permitting authorities?  These are tangible benefits that can elevate the profile of a firm overnight.

For non-management design professionals, sell your direct experience with a specific market or service.  If you design health care facilities, get letters of reference from health care professionals with whom you have worked directly.  Having direct experience using Building Information Modeling (BIM) software like Revit is a huge selling point as more firms work on BIM-designed projects.  If you have recently graduated from design school, sell your facility in new software applications and your ability to train up your peers in these applications.

It’s also helpful to have a relationship with a professional recruiter – even if you end up finding an exciting new job on your own, these people have the experience to serve as a sounding board and alert you to opportunities you didn’t know existed.

If you are good and you have the skills and experience that other firms see as an “upgrade”, you will always be impervious to the ups and downs of the economy.

All the best,


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

July 22, 2009 at 4:00 am Leave a comment

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