Posts filed under ‘Generation “Y”/Generation “Next”’

The “We’ve Always Done It This Way” Mentality

As a search consultant I have the opportunity to speak with dozens of civil engineering professionals across the country on a daily basis.   I speak with key executives in the C-Suite, Project Engineers, and to every level of civil engineering professional in between.   After learning about their skill set and their contribution to their organization and to our nation’s infrastructure I always ask the following question:

“What would be a motivating factor that would prompt you to explore a new opportunity?”

Most of the time I get responses that include phrases like:

“More opportunity”

“Glass ceiling”

“Larger, more challenging projects”

“More responsibility”

“Smaller company”  / “Larger company”

But every so often I will connect with a candidate who is working for a firm where the existing leadership has the ol’ “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it mentality.”


we've always done it this way


Over the past few months I have run into a number of firms who just cannot get out of their own way as a result of their “we’ve always done it this way” point of view.

I recently heard of a firm that was poised for growth and had determined that they had to make some changes by creating a couple of new positions that would really help take them to the next level.  One of these positions was Chief Operating Officer.  The Board of Directors developed a detailed job description that outlined a  plan moving forward and the positive impact that the addition of a COO would make.  At the end of the day they decided to put the role on the back-burner for no other reason than the company ownership, all of whom have been with the company for 35+ years,  felt that what they were doing has worked for the past twenty five years and there was no sense changing things up.  The younger generation of engineers and future leaders of this organization are unsettled by all of  this and will likely be future leaders somewhere else.

Another firm that has a strong tradition of excellence within the Mid-Atlantic region is unwilling to budge on their vacation policy.  Not one single person they say, from the CEO on down, receives more than three weeks of vacation.  It is non-negotiable.  I am all about hard work, trust me, I am typing this on a Saturday.  But to remain competitive in the marketplace you need to be able to do better than three weeks vacation, especially for senior level professionals who have certainly earned four weeks anyway.   This is another example of an existing ownership with an “old school” mentality that is not able to see the forest through the trees, in my opinion.

These are just a few examples; there are plenty of companies out there who lag behind in technology, training, and who preach a culture and a philosophy of innovation but whose actions show otherwise.

On the other hand, I have had some first hand experience working with clients who understand the importance of change,  organizational evolution, and constant re-evaluation.

I recently worked with a client who saw an enormous amount of opportunity in the marketplace, but just could not break free from their 30 employee shell.  The CEO of the company reached out to me and shared with me his vision to become an ENR Top 500 firm, and he was ready to invest in the right people to make that happen.  He was acting as CEO, COO, Director of Business Development and Director of Engineering, and as you can imagine,  could barely see one step ahead of himself.  We successfully conducted a search for him and he now has in place a Director of Engineering and an Executive Vice President who has actively taken on the operations element of the firm and is contributing to business development and strategy.  As a result of investing in these two key hires they are looking to double in size in the next 18 months.

Another client  has been in business for nearly 40 years and is in its second generation of ownership, currently working towards the third generation.  The company ownership is split between five or six shareholders, but they have limited the length of time that shareholders can be shareholders.  This allows for the semi-regular turnover of ownership which leads to the replenishment of fresh and innovative ideas.

Another firm not only encourages its employees to think “outside-the-box,” but they actually allow for those ideas to be implemented.  As traditional and conservative as civil engineers traditionally are, the willingness to try something new may seem a little risky, but their clients REALLY enjoy their willingness to present innovative approaches and concepts to many age old problems.   This type of mentality and philosophy is attractive to many people and as a result helps them bring top talent in the door, and it excites the clients and keeps them coming back for more.


Change can often be scary, but it is necessary.  History shows that those firms who are satisfied with the status quo, and who drown themselves in   “we’ve always done it this way”  mentality will eventually be left in the dust.

May you not be left in the dust!


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

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


April 8, 2014 at 11:59 am 4 comments

Civil Engineering 2.0 – How Do You Measure Up?

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

View Matt’s profile & connect with him on LinkedIn

At the risk of beating a dead horse, I wanted to discuss the topic of the utilization of social networking and Web 2.0 tools when it comes to the civil engineering industry.  We have discussed this topic on a number of occasions not only here within our blog, but on our LinkedIn discussion board…but from what I have seen out there, the conversation is worth continuing.

Chances are, if you are reading this blog it is as a result of learning about it via Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, so I get it that you get it. But the question remains, does your company or your employer or those associations you are a member of get it?

With the modern era of the internet beginning in the early 90’s, it was greeted with excitement and skepticism.  As many organizations jumped on the bandwagon, many sat back and waited…and waited…and waited.  As we sit here now, approaching the year 2011, if you don’t have a website you lack credibility.  Eventually most folks caught on to this concept and it is very rare to find a company that does not have a website.   As web 2.0 technologies mature, how much longer can your company afford to sit on its laurels before it’s too late?

Failure of civil engineering organizations to embrace social networking tools will  not have a crippling  impact on the way they do business, but it will impact them in some way, shape, or form. I’ve taken the liberty to do some exploring on the internet of some great examples of how organizations within and surrounding the civil engineering community are taking advantage of web 2.0 tools.  Let’s take a look:


Washington Department of Transportation:

Texas Department of Transportation:

  • Facebook – with over 2600 followers of TxDot’s Facebook page they are able to advertise open civil engineering and construction jobs, discuss politics, traffic congestion and post videos and photos of events that effect transportation across the state
  • Twitter – each TxDOT District has their own Twitter account as a tool to share information with employees, vendors, residents, and the travelers.
  • YouTube – dozens of videos showing how concrete barriers save lives, what the statewide long range plan looks like, and proposed highway concept plans, just to name a few.
  • Podcasts – weekly podcasts are produced and posted on their site on a wide variety of topics



  • LinkedIn – to help promote the company and advertise civil engineering job openings
  • Facebook – to promote press releases regarding employee promotions, company awards, project wins, etc. They also are able to post videos that specifically relate to their company – like their spot on the CBS Evening News.
  • Twitter – to promote company news
  • YouTube – Ulteig has their own company YouTube Channel


  • Facebook  & Twitter– used as a marketing tool promoting news articles, press releases, promotions, and video featuring Pennoni and Pennoni employees
  • YouTube – Used as an avenue to post all news video relating to Pennoni projects or associates
  • LinkedIn– Used again as an avenue for free PR, but also provides an avenue for other LI members to learn more about the folks within their organization.  They also have their own group where current Pennoni employees can network, collaborate, and share ideas!



  • Facebook – used as an avenue to promote upcoming events, to share photos from events, to promote membership and share informative videos.
  • Twitter – used to share jobs from their job board, to promote upcoming events, and to share interesting and relevant articles
  • YouTube – Interviews with NSPE members and engineers discussing the relevant issues and topics that NSPE members want to know about.
  • LinkedIn – used as a way to further develop their  NSPE brand and as an avenue for discussion of relevant topics among group members.


  • Facebook – Used to promote news items, events, membership drives, etc.
  • Twitter – Same as Facebook, also able to retweet news worthy items from the industry or from other local SAME chapter Twitter accounts.
  • Blog – SAME’s “Bricks & Clicks” blog is yet another communication tool used as a potential discussion outlet for any newsworthy items relating to members
  • LinkedIn – A great recruiting and networking tool that has over 4000 members!

Social networking tools are beyond the infancy stage.  They are fantastic tools that are used for branding, recruiting, collaborating, SEO, advertising, promoting, marketing and communicating,  and failure to recognize and act may leave you a step behind.  If you can, take a team approach to implementing these tools with your organization; involve Marketing, Human Resources, and Technical Professionals…and most importantly, come up with a plan and stick to it.  There are plenty of civil engineering organizations who had the right intentions, but have dropped the ball, tarnishing the validity of their internet presence and their ability to effectively use web 2.0 technology. If you are going to make the committment, do it right!

Don’t miss the boat folks, resistance is futile.

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

October 5, 2010 at 8:50 pm 3 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

Understanding Generation “Next”

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

Okay, if you have not noticed, the analysis of “Generation Y” or “Generation Next” has been getting  a lot of attention in our industry these days.  You see this topic discussed here on our blog and forum, and it has been discussed in countless newsletters and trade journals, including the April e-newsletter published by (If you would like to sign up for our newsletter BTW, click HERE ).  Now that we have the self promotion of our site out of the way, let me get to point 😉 !

I recently read the following comment on ERE:

“Serial job seekers job hop, as if they are job seeker junkies. They get a thrill from it. I think we will find a number of Gen Y Serial Job Seekers who are early in their career but I don’t think those individuals will be job hopping for long. In my experience of examining the Generations and their work values, Gen Y is not motivated by money. It is career pathing, social factors and a sense of job ownership that they seek.”

Barb Irwin & Cara Bobchek of HR Advisors Group in D.C. recently conducted a study which ultimately backs this statement up.  According to their research, the most significant factor in determining their (Gen Y)   decision to accept their current position was future career opportunities.  I believe that the young professionals of today will bounce around some early in their careers until they find the firm that delivers on their promises and will allow them to grow and advance at a faster pace than what we have seen in the past, and that offers a level of flexibility that this industry has not yet encountered.  I think they want to be loyal to a firm, as long as the firm is being loyal to them.  Part of the contributing factor to their frequent job changes early on, compared to earlier generations, is that there are SO many options out there SO readily available through SO many different medias, medias that did not exist in generations past.

Let’s look at another excerpt from the article written by HR Advisors Group:

‘ “…It seems that the younger generation is so used to whining and getting what they want. It almost seems like they feel that the company works for them instead of they work for the company.” ‘

It’s a common theme that we’re hearing more and more in our HR and management consulting practice:  younger workers appear to carry a “sense of entitlement” in their careers. Employers ask us, “How do we manage the younger generation in our firms, especially in light of the different approach that they seem to take to their careers than the older (my) generation?”

The “sense of entitlement” comment struck a chord with one of our readers who felt the need to respond to that tag with the following comment:

“Our generation keeps being blamed for that “entitlement” regarding our careers but I think the problem is that we now need to prepare ourselves more than the other generations.  I got out of college a yr ago with a degree in Business Management, another one in Civil Engineering and I am prominent in AutoCAD, Excel, Word, Powerpoint, Project…..not to mention I am fluent in english and spanish….but when looking for a job companies still offer us salaries as if we didn’t go to school and expect us to work 10+ hour days.  I don’t think “entitlement” is the problem, I think is those companies who don’t know the importance of their human resources what carries the real problem.  Getting an engineering degree is not easy, and therefore we deserve to be paid accordingly”

So what does all of this mean?  Where do we go from here?  How do we take the philosophy that has been successfully learned and depended on for so many years by the existing civil engineering leadership…and change it?  How is your organization responding to this issue?

April 30, 2008 at 5:53 pm Leave a comment

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